Drive hard. Drive often.
Autorambla rule # 5.
Autorambla, a classic Porsche enthusiast’s club took on the challenge of hosting the 2nd Gathering of Porsche Classics (GPC). The concept of the Gathering revolved around the principles of SPaT 911 (Sport Purpose and Touring 911) which seeks to overcome the recent trend of storing away classic Porsches due to the phenomenal global spike in values and dollars. More and more classic Porsches were being taken off the street and turned into garage queens or resident bank time deposits waiting to be liquidated at the right returns. But there was a time not too long ago, that the Porsche 911 was accessible and affordable, an everyday man’s race car that could be driven on the street, and with simple mods and a lot of commitment, be capable of becoming the one that could do it all, be used for Sport Performance (track) and Touring (road trips). The Gathering was meant both to subtly encourage and outright demand that classic Porsche owners drive more. It was meant to spark, reignite, or once again explode the love of driving.
The first Gathering was held in Iloilo and ably hosted by the local Porsche club. Classic Porsches from as far as Pampanga and Manila to Cebu all converged in the southern city of Iloilo. It was quite a road trip, especially for Randy Viray who drove almost 18 hours straight from Angeles to Batangas to Caticlan then to Iloilo, with a very special passenger, his 12 year old son Vonn. It was a very enjoyable event that created a clamor for a much bigger and bolder Gathering.
Randy was so inspired that he took on the mantle of becoming the Chairman of the 2nd GPC together with our club, Autorambla as host and main organizer. The second Gathering happened just a few weeks ago last February 21 to 25, at the Clark Freeport Zone.
It was an epic celebration that had a little of everything for everybody, as it ran the gamut from intimate dinners to an epic track day with professional multi-awarded instructors and even a highly-challenging and demanding series of runs all over Central and Northern Luzon. More than 30 classic Porsches ranging from a couple of 1960’s short wheelbase 911s, or better referred to as 901s, to a gaggle of highly modified recreations of RS, RSR, SC-RS, as well as a crowd favorite: a German Army-themed Safari rally car all showed up with their enthusiastic owners and drivers.
It was a chance to meet , mingle and renew acquaintances with several of the most popular and legendary names in the local classic Porsche community from founding members of both the Hong Kong and Philippine Porsche Club in Toto Cruz and Tony Alunan, to another co-founder of the Porsche Club Philippines in Gabby Valdes. The legendary racers who also volunteered as instructors such as champions Jojo Silverio, Mike Potenciano, Enteng Floriendo, Tammy Campos, Lito Ignacio, Mike Bradley, Noy Yao and Porsche factory trained instructor and local legend George Ramirez.
There are so many details and stories to process, but I think it’s only appropriate to allow the Chairman of this year’s Gathering tell us in his own words what he was going through:
Spotlight: GPC - Randy Viray
Being a novice on the racetrack, the idea of being with racecar instructors at CIS was very exciting to me. From race preparations, proper steering wheel handling, doing the donuts, slow in-fast out, proper racing line, late apex, etc. all of these introduced me to the fundamentals of driving my car on the road and on the track.
However, having Mike Potenciano drive the car and watch him do it from the passenger seat was the highlight of the track day for me. He showed me the proper racing lines and how to take the corners smoothly.
He was even surprised at the power and handling of these 45 year old cars. Suffice it to say, the instructors had as much fun as the participants. When the day ended, I gained more knowledge of the capabilities and limits of these classic Porsches. It is knowledge which will help me enjoy the mountain drives even more in the next few days.
Our first drive took us on a historic run to Bataan province. From Clark, we drove towards SBMA, Zambales via the smooth and scenic SCTEX. This road offered a refreshing drive especially to the participants from Cebu, where long stretches of super highways do not exist. More than once, I was tempted to test the limits of my car and my nerves, but being aware of speed traps lurking somewhere reigned over me.
This actually helped us enjoy the sight of the verdant hills and canyons of Porac and Floridablanca, reminiscent of a Southern California drive. The route through SBMA was punctuated by a refueling stop at Petron, Subic, one of GPC’s major sponsors. Soon after, the caravan had to re-group at Anvaya Beach and Nature club for a short break in preparation for a more exciting drive towards Mt. Samat.
Going past Morong town, I negotiated fast sweeps of nicely paved roads. Watching the opposite lane with eagle eyes, I was going for late apex, carving a line I learned from the racetrack. My senses started working overtime. I was pushing the car near its limits.
I took cues from the slightest scream of my narrow street tires, warning me of imminent oversteer. Braking only when necessary, I could feel the adrenaline rush. Short straights provided the much-needed respite for me to breathe, only to find another series of never ending bends!
This early 911 was responding very well, so well that it was talking to me, dancing with me. I became one with the car. Finding my rhythm, I reached a state of flow. This went on for almost an hour until we reached the final turn towards Mt. Samat. From there, things got even better. We were greeted by abrupt hills so steep that the road almost looked like walls. I counted 20 turns culminating to 6 very steep hairpin curves to the summit. My tires started screaming but this time I chose to ignore them and just let loose whatever power I had left from this 45 year old car. It was seven kilometers of pure joy.
I thought to myself: Porsche life does not get any better than this.
For most participants, this became one of the unforgettable drives of the tour. “Randy, the power from the more modern Porsche is more than enough,” said Romy Yao, the guru of early 911s in the Philippines. “Just like in boxing, you had to hold your punches going up to this summit and that’s not fun. But the power from the early 911s is just enough that you have to throw your punches while holding down the car’s nerves,” he added.
And that is why these old cars are more fun to drive on these mountain roads. Suddenly, I felt a dichotomy of feelings - the pleasure of driving hard an early 911 and sadness over my hapless passenger at the same time. He was in the right car, on the right road, but on the wrong seat!” (Confession: I was his passenger as my 1971 Porsche 914’s parts failed to arrive in time - Chris.)
With Jules Chanco on my passenger seat this time, the group drove from Clark to Nueva Ecija in the early morning of day 2. For two hours we traversed flatlands of mostly agricultural landscape. This was interspersed with small town traffic, road works, slow tricycles, farm animals, etc. The glaring sun tested the hardiness of the classic Porsche drivers, especially the purists who refuse to install aircons in their cars.
Soon after, we found ourselves entering the mountains of Pantabangan. The initial terrain is very similar to that of Bataan. However, the turns slowly became frequent and steeper as we reached Aurora province. The landscape’s transition slowly unfolded. Coconut trees hinted at an ocean nearby. The surroundings, the climate, and the air became fresher and cooler. Brown and dry terrain gave way to green and lush mountains. Soon after, we reached our final destination: Baler, Aurora.
After a brief stop at Costa Pacifica hotel, a handful of us decided for a final push towards Casiguran town, 2 hours North of Baler. Landslides in this area of the Sierra Madre Mountains are a norm. Despite this awareness, our group still attempted to cover more mountain roads in this direction. Our rewards were scenic views of the Pacific Ocean on top of lush mountains high enough to almost see Benham rise, an undisputed territory on this side of the Philippines. Suddenly, a massive landslide blocked our path. It was time to turn around.
I offered Jules the driver’s seat this time. A seasoned classic car enthusiast and a 944 owner, he seemed very comfortable and confident in my early 911. Almost immediately, he pushed the car hard, even late braking on the first corner. He pushed it again on the way out. He was very impressed. “Several 911’s passed through my hands and none of them handled like this,” he said. “Not a hint of hesitation when you push it, even grips very well on the bends. I want one as my next project!” he quipped with a smile.
On the way back to our hotel, I sat there feeling like a proud dad watching his son perform very well on stage.”
The 2nd Gathering of the Porsche Classics would not have been possible without the generous support of Petron, the official fuel sponsor. Luen Thai, official shirts and caps as well as providing staff and logistics support. Randy Viray’s staff who ably audited and mapped the route as well as planting the critical direction signs. A big delicious thank you also to French trained chef Bianca Lee who sponsored, prepared and cooked the memorable burgers and chili con carne during the welcome night, Mimosa and Quest for sponsored dinners as well as Costa Pacifica for both being the official venues in Clark and in Aurora, Pirelli for the official tire, Conqueror paper for the decals and race numbers, BCDA and Clark Development Corporation for all the logistics and support including lunch and use of the parade grounds. Tammy Campos, Enteng Floriendo and Willie Torres for sponsoring track day, use of the paddock and organizing the instructors. A very big debt of gratitude is also offered to Vince Dizon , Chairman of BCDA as well as Bataan Governor Abet Garcia and Mayor Jopeth Inton of Hermosa, they pulled out all the stops to showcase the beauty of their areas. As well as everyone that supported, contributed and participated, a special thank you to the organizing committee led by Randy Viray and ably assisted by Sophie De Los Santos of Tradeshow International, Autorambla Chairman Frank Sauceda and his staff , Chit Manlapaz and Kimmy Pajaro, Winston Chua, Tammy Campos, Rommy Yao, Manny Dimaculangan, Jason and Sarah Lemberg and Jay Aldeguer.