Dave served in the U.S. Army for three years as a Medic in Korea, and when he returned to Wisconsin in 1969, he started his racing career. Teaming up with Gene Larson, they built a 1957 Ford two door stock class car powered by a 292 cubic inch engine. The car was numbered #27 because Dave was twenty seven years old when he started his racing career.
Success came quickly in his racing career and three weeks into his rookie season, he won his first feature race. Although he didn’t win again in 1969, he raced another 1957 Ford the following season and again won a single main event.
In 1971 the Late Model class was the place to be if you were a driver looking to go faster and race for more money, and Palmquist moved into the class that year. He purchased a 1969 Ford Torino with a small block 302 cubic inch Ford Boss motor from well known race car owner and scrap metal dealer Leo Kadinger. With Fred Johnson and Floyd Engelking turning the wrenches, they quickly became one of the top Late Model race teams in the local area.
He then teamed up with Cameron’s Rick Kurshinsky to race a 1972 Chevrolet Nova and in that car he won his first feature race in the Late Models at Rice Lake in 1973. He later went on to win the track points title, the season championship and the first Late Model invitational held at Rice Lake in 1974.
In 1976 Dave came out with what eventually became one of the most famous race cars in Rice Lake Speedway history. In an era when the same Late Model race car could run equally as adept on both dirt and asphalt tracks, Palmquist bought a Bemco chassis Camaro from one of Wisconsin’s asphalt racing legends, Nekoosa Wisconsin’s Marv Marzofka.
After racing that car on the dirt all summer, when the Labor Day weekend approached, the pit crew changed the tires to asphalt “slicks” and he raced the car at the Minnesota State Fair’s half mile asphalt track. Qualifying against a field of nearly ninety cars, Palmquist made the main event and finished twelfth against a field of asphalt track specialists in the four hundred lap main event. They then changed the tires again and he went back to dirt track racing.
Dave won twelve Late Model feature events at Rice Lake between the years of 1973 and 1979 with the last win coming in ’79.
After the 1979 season his plan was to get away from racing, but he was lured back to the sport part way through the 1980 racing season by Jerry Curnow, who had put together a top quality ride for the new Modified class that debuted at the track that year. Jerry didn’t have a full time driver for his car though, and Palmquist agreed to start driving the open wheel car, even though he didn’t have any previous experience in open wheel cars.
The results were spectacular right from the beginning and for the first few years of the class at Rice Lake, it was Palmquist and another Hall of Famer, Buddy Mayala who battled it out for the win virtually every race night until the competition started to improve. Dave’s biggest year in the Modified and at the track as a whole was in 1982 when he won thirteen feature races at Rice Lake in the Curnow car, and set a record for wins in that division that wasn’t equaled until twenty nine years later, until Kevin Adams tied the record in 2011. Dave won the points title and the Season Championship that year. He also entered the car in an asphalt race at Rockford IL and won the National Short Track Championship there. Even more amazing, the day after the win in Rockford, they towed all the way back to Rice Lake, changed the tires on the race car and won the invitational at the Rice Lake Speedway too. Added to those wins were Auqafest Trophy wins and Midseason and Season Championship titles too.
All together, Dave won twenty five Modified feature wins at Rice Lake with the last coming in 1986. He was also responsible , along with Curnow , of advancing the Modified class in this area by taking the car to numerous other race tracks and showing off the Modified car to prospective racers.
Overall, Palmquist won a total of thirty nine feature wins at Rice Lake in the relatively short time that he raced. He also made a name for himself in both the Late Model and Modified ranks as both cars were raced all across the Midwest and he won many special events against quality competition. His was a very smooth driving style and one that was rare in that his ability to adapt to both dirt and asphalt tracks equally as well was very unusual. He could probably have been just as an exceptional asphalt track driver as a dirt driver if the circumstances had been different.