Singing and racing

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The Vios Cup is one of the many legacies of Michinobu Sugata as president of Toyota Motor Philippines Corporation.

The Vios Cup is one of the many legacies of Michinobu Sugata as president of Toyota Motor Philippines Corporation.

WHENEVER Michinobu Sugata sings during occasions for the motoring press, it is very clear he knows his craft and started at an early age. And whenever he participates in the Vios Cup races, it is obvious he has been behind the wheel of a sports car many times.

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“It’s simple. I was singing in a band in my high school and college days. So my love for singing really started at an early age,” he said.

Sugata said he was hooked on the songs of the Beatles when he first heard “She Loves You” in 1972 in a television commercial. He was 11 years old then.

“I immediately loved the track and even asked my parents to buy the record that had that song. Only to find out that they recently got disbanded,” he added.

It was through listening to the songs of the Beatles that Sugata also learned the English language.

“On top of the listening and singing, I began to learn English from them as well and coincidentally, felt a stronger growth of the Japanese economy,” he said.

While many Beatles fans idolize Paul McCartney or John Lennon, known to be the cornerstones of the legendary group, Sugata’s favorite is George Harrison.

“For one, in my opinion, he was the most handsome Beatle. Secondly, he wrote much of the sophisticated melodies which I enjoyed the most and lastly – he always seemed the humble type even if I never personally met him. Even after the Beatles got disbanded, he still made several hits still showing his humility above all,” he added.

Motor sports hero
When it comes to motor sports, Sugata’s idol is Keiichi Tsuchiya who is known as the “Drift King” in Japan and countries where drifting has become popular. In the 1995 24 Hours of Le Mans, he scored a class win and placed eighth overall in the field.

“I distinctly remember he was part of the winning team at the Le Mans 24-hour endurance race. So in my opinion, he was more of a racer than a drifter, something that he is really known for given that he is called the ‘Drift King.’ I was thrilled to have him join several of our Vios Cup legs as a special guest,” Sugata said.

Sugata himself raced in the staging of the Vios Cup in 2014 and this year, although he prefers to let the other racecar drivers enjoy the limelight. The Vios Cup will remain one of the Sugata’s legacies in the Philippines.

“As part of the automotive industry, motor sports is one of the most exciting ventures wherein a team works well together,” he said.

“I really wanted to make it happen in the Philippines in the form of a grassroots racing festival where anyone can join,” Sugata added.

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