The Automobile Association Philippines (AAP) recently capped off its 75th anniversary with an auto show and a feting of those who have distinguished themselves in Philippine motor sports in 2005. Held at the Philippine International Convention Center (PICC) Forum and the PICC-CCP (Cultural Center of the Philippines) complex, the AAP 75th anniversary celebration showed that AAP is not just a 24-hour towing organization but an institution and a tradition as old (or nearly as old) as the first automobiles in the country.

Gathering of champions

The 2005 AAP Motoring Awards, held at the PICC Forum One building, was a spectacular guide to the origins, thrusts and development of the AAP as a caretaker of Philippine motor sports and local motoring in general. The 2005 AAP Motoring Awards also saw the awarding of those who distinguished themselves in the exhibition races held as part of the AAP 75th Anniversary celebration.

The 2005 AAP Motoring Awards proper gave notice to those who distinguished themselves the previous year in the different AAP-sanctioned racing disciplines drag racing, 4x4 racing, karting, rallycross, slalom racing and touring car racing. The drag racing Driver of the Year (DOTY) went to Blanche Racing's Leo Joel Cordero, while 4x4 DOTY honors went to Dante Dungca of the Luzon 4x4 Federation. The touring car DOTY award was bestowed upon consistent PNTCC (Philippine National Touring Car Championship) top notcher Jody Coseteng, while rallycross DOTY honors went to Team DMF's Alex Perez. Karter of the Year honors went to M&M Racing's Michele Bumgarner, while the slalom DOTY was given to Darryl Flores.

Much like the Academy Awards for Motion Pictures, the 2005 AAP Motoring Awards also bestowed lifetime achievement awards to people who have contributed immensely to the growth of Philippine motor sports. Known as the AAP Hall of Fame Awards, this prestigious distinction was given to Jose Pocholo Ramirez, and posthumously to Arsenio "Dodjie" Laurel (two-time winner of the Macau Grand Prix in 1962-1963) and Conrado "Dodo" Ayuyao (AAP president from 1982-1999). In a tear-filled speech after his AAP Hall of Fame bestowment, Ramirez commented that finally he was in the company of both Laurel and Ayuyao.

A display of all things AAP

The exhibition at the PICC Forum Two and Three building was a blend of local automobile antiques and the latest automobile technology. Among the nexi of nostalgia at the AAP auto show were Douglas MacArthur's 1937 black Chevrolet Cabriolet (delivered straight from Corregidor), a cream white and red 1932 Lincoln KB owned by C. C. de Castro, two Ford Escort RS 2000s (Ford's first works venture into local motor sports) owned by rally great Boy Ochoa, a Nissan 240RS owned by rally personality Robert Aventajado and a 1928 Ford Model T. Not to be outdone were the different car companies and auto suppliers and Petron at the AAP exhibition, with Ford Group Philippines toting its EJ20 (ethanol-powered) Ford Focus Ghia sedan and Petron bringing an impressive display installation of Petron XTend Autogas in a white EP Civic (complete with authentic replica gas station).