No relationship is perfect.

There will always be ups and downs and all kinds of trials and tribulations. The most important thing is that you work on it.

That is also the story of my so-called racing career.

Toyota Vios Autocross: Reigniting a lost passion image

Not too long ago, I rejoined the motoring world as the new creative director of this website. It was all so familiar: I do have more than a decade of experience as an advertising photographer and as a former motoring journalist for a local automotive website and newspaper in my hometown Davao. And joining AI rekindled the love affair I have for cars. I started photographing cars again, shooting videos, and creating social media content for Autoindustriya.com, but this time with more experience. More gurang, more gulang so to speak.

Now to the so-called “racing career”. A few months back I was invited to join the TGR Vios Cup 2022 Autocross challenge in the Promotional Media class. I was pitted against a younger pack that had more experience in racing and autocross in particular. As far as I can remember, the last time I stepped on the hallowed grounds of the Clark International Speedway was in the pre-pandemic days. I just started drag racing again in 2015 and that pretty much sums up the current state of my motorsport racing career.

Toyota Vios Autocross: Reigniting a lost passion image

Fast forward to 2022, I'm representing Autoindustriya with my teammate Jamil Lacuna who races in the Sporting Media class. I once again find myself suiting up and putting on a helmet. The first leg saw a very dismal result. I placed last in my division and had too many errors that needed to be addressed. The rust is real.

Another month passed and I found myself suiting up again, this time for the Toyota GR Festival. This was the time that I was figuratively and literally doing a big shakedown. We did another autocross challenge, a quarter-mile challenge and a 5-Lap Follow the Leader around the circuit. Jamil who rode shotgun with me most of the practice races guided and coached me. I felt more confident and did the shakedown. Tanggal kalawang.

Toyota Vios Autocross: Reigniting a lost passion image

This weekend saw the 2nd Leg of the TGR Vios Cup 2022. The typical early morning drive to Clark on a Friday was again all too familiar.

The cool breeze kept me composed. Stepping inside the track and seeing the cars made me feel better. It was like seeing your better half after a long argument. You both slept on it, woke up in the morning, make a cup of coffee and ask: Hey, can we talk?

Toyota Vios Autocross: Reigniting a lost passion image

The Vios Cup OMR cars seemed so familiar that there were no more barriers. It's both of you accepting each other. An elusive nod and a fresh smile says it all. I hopped in, got strapped in the Vios Cup Car, and instantaneously upon resting my hands on the steering wheel. That tingling sensation was there. I feel natural with the car and drove way better than the past two times we tried. All was okay, all was good.

As we progressed on to the next practice session in the afternoon, the feeling of happiness, calmness, and being in tune were all there. It was all falling into place. I saw my times get faster as my runs became cleaner. The last practice session on Saturday morning was even better. I had the opportunity to ride shotgun with my teammate Jamil and vice versa, we were able to compare notes and he was able to fine-tune my driving.

Toyota Vios Autocross: Reigniting a lost passion image

Race proper came, I was just focused on doing a clean run to qualify, I told myself just to be better than the last leg and do a clean run. I managed to bag 4th place in the qualifiers and enter the top 4. The final pairings came and I was up against a younger competitor and the 2nd placer in our division during the first leg. The first run I saw him finish faster than me as we approached the stop boxes.

Toyota Vios Autocross: Reigniting a lost passion image

As we switched tracks, I just told myself to give it my all and enjoy this ride. He had problems in the 360 part of the track and I took the opportunity to go faster. As I approached my last chicane before the final straightaway I could see him still on the last chicane. As soon as I stepped on the brakes, I just let it all out. The adrenaline rush was there. I asked for my time and went back to the pits.

After the last pairing in our division, it boiled down to the best times of the day. I was able to snag 2nd place this time, but not too far off from the win. I was happy, but I wasn't content. I'm hungry to do even better, and that's why I love this sport.

Toyota Vios Autocross: Reigniting a lost passion image

But the thing that I really love about racing is the camaraderie. Whether it's on a serious racing series or even one just for fun, you meet people of the same interests and connect with them. You just have a great time sharing ideas, joking around, and even comparing race notes to help each other excel. That's what Gazoo Racing is all about: fun, friendship, and fast times. 

Toyota Vios Autocross: Reigniting a lost passion image

It's good to rekindle my love affair with racing. The relationship still needs work, and I want that win. Now it's time to push even harder. Vamos!