Philippine motor sports history

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MIKE POTENCIANO

MIKE POTENCIANO

History repeats itself is a popular saying. It is mentioned over and over again in our school days and is even very relevant up to now. It is also very appropriate in motor sports and that is why we have put up the Philippine motor sports History page in Facebook recently.

We are very happy that we have started a good trend with the new generation of car enthusiasts who even commented that they never thought the country had such a rich history in racing and rallying. I am also amazed at some of the stories posted as I never thought there were a lot of enthusiasts back then even before our time in the 80’s.

From racing, rallying, slaloms, karting and drag racing, the pictures and stories are all there for us to appreciate. Here are just some of the more memorable stories that I and most of the people have reacted to in the PMH Facebook page.

Dante Silverio’s Toyota Celica
The iconic first generation, racing Toyota Celica of Dante Silverio always drew likes and great admiration from both young and old. Dante always had that carefree look that emulated F1 World Champion James Hunt of that generation. Even though the shot was just in the paddocks, with Dante sitting on the hood of the car, the beauty of the Celica and the glamor of racing really came out in that black and white picture.

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The no. 49 Celicas of Dante and the no. 88 of Pocholo Ramirez were all prepared in Japan and brought in to do battle with the Ford Escorts, Opel Mantas, Mini Coopers and other cars that brought about the first golden age of racing.

It is great to see that the comments below showed the 2 Celicas in its present state and will be undergoing restoration under the tutelage of 2nd generation and multiple-discipline racing champion, Jojo Silverio.

1970 London to Manila marathon
This event was huge back then and Freddie Masigan posted pictures recently of the Philippine-made car, the VW Sakbayan that competed in it. With an all-Filipino crew in manning the car and servicing it, the Sakbayan proved to be very capable of traversing those non-existent, rough roads and desert conditions to reach Manila.

We have to interview Freddie soon and get the juicy story on what happened during and after the rally as the pictures really are a sight to behold. I, personally, had never seen them before and just heard of it from the veterans. I hope we could do one again and promote the country through this great marathon.

Rally Ford Escort
The Ford Escort Mk. II was the 2nd generation of the popular Mk 1 version that raced against the Celicas in circuit racing. The next generation Escorts were marketed by Arthur Tuason and brought in to do battle in all disciplines including rally.

The Escort looks best when it is sideways and in full lock counter steer by brave and great drivers like Tuason, Boy Eusebio and Kiko De La Rama. The rear wheel drive cars started getting faster and faster with the Group B cars coming into our shores in the late 80’s.

Opel Manta and Ascona
The first generation 2-dr Manta was a beautiful car and won great racing battles due to its superior handling and robust drivetrain. The more traditional two and four-door Ascona shared the same platform as the Manta and was also modified to race.

The simplicity of the modifications made it easy and affordable to go racing. The shops of Yu Ben Tek, Bien Manalo and a lot more gave the new drivers a chance to go up against veteran drivers and beating them. The Autohaus Toranas, which were also GM made like the Opels soon took up the cudgels of racing as they shared the same suspension and drivetrain.

Muscle drag race cars
The drag racers had the US made Musclecars at their disposal with their big v8 engines. The Chevy 55 of Oboy Reyes started a long thread of stories that included Chevy Camaro Z28, Chevy Impala of Doc Baens and the Dodge Plymouth Satellite of Ka Dorling Manalo.

They would be battling highly modified musclecars of Americans from Clark Air Base and highly modified VW Beetles in Lagro. These were great times and the Cam Wreckers Association gave rise to a lot more cars and drivers that built up the sport.

MP Turbo rally/race stories
Our own MP TURBO stories that we highlight in this Turbo Time column are all well received namely the 1986 555 Hong Kong Rally, the 2002 AF2000 Championship and National Karting Series. Since our start in 1983, we were fortunate to be involved in rallying during its rebirth after a long hibernation during the Martial Law and Global Fuel Crisis days, including an unfortunate accident that involved spectators in the late 70’s.

We now are pushing to bring back the Golden Age of Motor sports soon and have outlined how we intend to do it for Karting and Rallying. These are all found in the PMH page and we hope that more people will post their stories for all to see and appreciate.

For if we don’t know what happened before in motor sports, we will not be able to learn from them and make a better next coming. Hope that you join us and let’s spread the word. Godspeed to all!

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