Filipino racing car drivers Gaby dela Merced and Michele Bumgarner will star as coaches in History Asia’s upcoming program, “Celebrity Car Wars.”
In an interview with The Manila Times, dela Merced said that the show focuses on six Asian celebrities – namely KC Montero, Marc Nelson, Allan Wu, Joey Mead King, Andrea Fonseka and PK Piyawat – who learn to become racing car drivers. She said the contestants had to go through challenges that were meant to develop attributes found in racers.
“There is some serious stuff like learning how to drive on a track,” she said. “But there’s also some not-so-serious stuff, such as them trying to accomplish seemingly ordinary driving maneuvers with a twist. Overall, the show is full of fun and crazy challenges for the celebrities.”
Dela Merced said she had a lot of fun mentoring the celebrities with Bumgarner.
“I’ve known Michele for years, so we got along fine,” she said. “Meanwhile, the celebrities were wonderfully chaotic. Watching so many personalities, some of whom are out of this world, drive around in the cars was really entertaining.”
Although Celebrity Car Wars is primarily a car show, featuring everything from humdrum family sedans to exotic super cars, dela Merced said the show also aims to bring viewers closer to the world of racing.
“There’s something about motor sports that allures everyone,” she said. “For many of us, it’s at arm’s length when we watch it on TV, but we don’t really know how it feels. In this show, viewers will see how racing can be like opening a Pandora’s Box because even people who’ve never been on a track before discover that they can drive well.”
Dela Merced said “Celebrity Car Wars” is expected to go on the air sometime August this year.
Veteran female racers
Dela Merced started her racing career in 2000 at the Shell Helix Slalom Challenge before going into touring-car racing. In 2003, she entered formula-car racing when she was one of four racers to be accepted on scholarship to the Formula BMW program, which she raced with Formula Toyota in the Philippines and other touring-car events.
In 2006, she joined Asian Formula 3 for one season, then went to the United States to race primarily in endurance events until she had to stop in 2010 because of a lingering injury. She briefly returned to the international racing scene in 2014 before stopping again a year later to undergo surgery for both her knees. Dela Merced also told The Times in an interview that she intends to make a racing comeback this year, focusing on local races.
Meanwhile, Bumgarner started her career in karting in 1998, taking part in local races. In 2002, she started competing in international kart races like the Asian Karting Open Championship and the Professional World of Karting in Europe.
While maintaining a stellar international karting career, Bumgarner went into formula-car racing in 2004 with Formula Toyota. She also got accepted into the Formula BMW scholarship program in 2005 and took part in Asian Formula 3 in 2006. Like dela Merced, Bumgarner raced in the US, taking part in kart events from 2007 to 2009, then going on hiatus from 2010 to 2012.