We might never see any motorsports included in the Olympics, but that doesn't mean the athletes behind the vehicles are any less deserving of recognition. The sports, after all, take the same amount of courage, strength, stamina and perseverance as any other.
Thankfully, they haven't been forgotten as every year, the country's motorsports athletes gather in a formal ceremony to award its top achievers in the past year. That occasion is called the Golden Wheel Awards, started in 2003 and was conceived by Johnny Tan, a well known figure in motorsports and proprietor of motorsprots circuits like the Carmona Racetrack, Batangas Racing Circuit and most recently, the Clark Speedway. Since its inception, it has gained recognition as not only as a prestigious awards body for motorsports but also as a much awaited formal event for the competitors in the field. Now on its 8th year and with the theme "Conquering Speedlanes in Fraternal Unity: One Vision, One Direction," the Golden Wheel awards hopes to continue in its endeavour and also emphasize the collaborated effort needed in developing a Filipino World Champion Driver.
Held at the PAGCOR Theater, the event began with a ribbon cutting, cocktails and a Photo Exhibit featuring the highlights and top drivers of the year and years past. In the theatre itself, the Automobile Association of the Philippines Chairman for Motorsports, Jose Armando Eduque, began with a congratulatory message. Following him was an awarding of citations for sponsors and benefactors that helped make the past year's events possible. Trailing that was a message from guest of honor, Ricardo Garcia, Chairman of the Philippine Sports Commission. After which, the chairman was also awarded with a citation by the Golden Wheel Foundation Chariman, Mr. Johnny Tan.
With much of the gratitude expressed, it was time to award the top drivers of the year. Starting it off were the champions of the two-wheeled vehicles. Ivan Santiago received the laurel for Scooters. Jaime Barcial received the award for Underbones. Taking the gold for Superbikes was Maico Greg Buncio while Glenn Aguilar bagged one for Motocross. On four wheels, Stefano Jean Marcelo was the first to receive his trophy for Karting. Alex Perez was chosen for Drifting while Abraham Salagan Collado took the prize for 4x4 Off-road. William Tan was selected for the Grand Touring category and Jonathan Tiu bagged one for Drag Racing. For Asian Karting, Yasuo Senna Iriawan of Indonesia was singled out for the Junior division while Sean Gelael (also of Indonesia) took the honors for the Senior division.
Finally, among these honorees will be selected the Driver of the Year. For dominating his field and breaking the lap records for underbones and 400cc superbikes at the Batangas Racing Circuit, Maico Greg Buncio was chosen as the driver of the year.
Before continuing the ceremony, Johnny Tan took the podium for some words from the organizing committee.
The event continued with the induction into the Philippine Motorsports Hall of Fame of Mr. Yu Beng Tek, a multi-disciplinary racer who has competed in Drag Racing, Circuit Racing and Autocross Racing. He joins the ranks of previous honorees like the late Pocholo Ramirez (2004), Dante Silverio (2008) and Robert Aventajado (2009).
To keep guests and attendees lively, the monotony was broken up with a lively intermission from the Mocha girls who didn't hesitate to call some volunteers from the audience. After the number, the Golden Wheels continued to be handed out to winners of the 2010 seasons of the Philippine Scooters Championships, Philippine Underbone King Championships, Philippine Superbikes Championships, Sel J Sports Philippine Motocross Championship Series and the Inside Racing Grand Prix. Awards were also handed out to those that preferred four wheels and participated in the 2009 seasons of the Yokohama Philippine GT Championships, Magnolia Purewater National Drag Racing Championships, Philippine Drag Racing-Northern Series Championships and the Magnolia Karting Super Series.
The night's awaradees may have come from different modes of transport and even more starkly different disciplines, but their presence certainly proved that whether on road or off of it, on four wheels or two, they're all headed in the same direction, towards building a more competitive and compassionate world class driver.