The best of the best racing legends was discussed in my column for the past three weeks, featuring Dodjie Laurel, the first ever multidisciplinary champion in both local and international arenas; Pocholo Ramirez; and the equally fast, cunning and nemesis of the Toyota team in all forms of racing, Arthur Tuason.
Like I said from the start, this will surely be a long series and this week, I would like to write about the living legends in the sport. And these are the second-generation racers that the first-generation legends groomed to be there with them.
There are still a lot more individual legends out there, and we will write about them in the soonest time possible. But for now, I hope my new list will be worthy of why they are also my racing heroes.
If you talk about Toyota, you cannot forget to talk about the Silverios. From the patriarch race and rally champion Dante Silverio to his great race/rally and karting champion son Jojo, the Silverios are synonymous with the brand since the 1970s.
The father and son hogged the sports pages because of all the race/rally wins that they gave the marque. It was also a great marketing tool for the family as Dante’s uncle, Ricardo, was the one who brought the Toyota brand into the country, even though Filipinos didn’t trust any Japanese cars then. Ricky Jr. also raced Toyotas in drag races and was successful at it.
The two Silverios, Ricky Jr. and Dante, would end up taking on each other in circuit racing, with Dante winning the Dodjie Laurel Memorial Race in the first Greenhills Grand Prix (GP) in 1971. Dante would again win the second one the next year to become the only Filipino to win the Greenhills GP back-to-back.
Dante topped this by winning the Royal Rally of Champions in 1972 and both racing and rallying top awards in the same year, setting historical feats. He also took Ramirez as his teammate in 1969, and they became the powerhouse duo of Team Toyota.
Meanwhile, Jojo started kart racing when he was a teenager. This developed his great racing skills, which eventually brought rewards not only in circuit racing but in rallying as well. The 1987 Mabuhay Freedom Rally turned out to be very memorable, as Jojo beat his father in the rally to make it a 1-2 finish for the Silverio family!
Jojo would be a living legend in racing when he virtually won every event he raced in — from the circuits in Nissan and Mazda production cars, to modified Toyota Corollas, and finally Formula Toyotas and the Asian Formula 3 Championship. His name will always come up whenever people talk about their racing heroes, and he is a very fitting second generation racer from a very illustrious racing family!
The Ramirez family is not only composed of the great legend Pocholo but also of his sons and grandson. The legendary bearded racer of the country had sons — the late Kookie, Georges, Louis, Miguel — and grandsons — Andre and Stefan — all making sure the Ramirez name is up there in racing. Even the wife of Kookie, Menchie, was very active in racing.
Tito Pocholo’s achievements were discussed in one of my past columns, but there are a lot more championships and records that escaped my deadline and caused me to research further. He won five ARAP Driver of the Year titles, the Baby Luna Memorial Race in Greenhills and the Dodjie Laurel Memorial Race in Luneta in 1970.
In 1971, Tito Pocholo started racing abroad and won in numerous races. After the tragic crash in 1979, he chose to join rallies instead and go abroad where permanent and safe tracks were present. In 1994, his dream came true with our Subic International Raceway coming to fruition. And at 75, he won the premiere Super Saloon Championship!
Kookie and Georges also raced abroad, especially in the US, where they studied and worked. When Georges came back, the Ramirez-Silverio team was again formed with their tie-up for the factory Nissan Team for the National Production Championship in 1994, Super Saloon Honda Civics and, later, Mazdas in 1997. The Ramirezes even raced in the Macau Grand Prix with Georges having a big crash in the same spot where Dodjie lost his life.
Sadly, Kookie lost his battle with cancer along with Tito Pocholo in the late 2000s. Georges and the whole family still kept the racing spirit alive and are very much into organizing motoring events for manufacturers, while Stefan is running in the Formula V1 championship.
There are a lot more second-generation racing families, and we will write about them next week. Godspeed!