In today’s age, motorsport has not just become who has the best car down to its parts such as a universal muffler, it has also become a competition filled with colorful characters, namely the drivers themselves. Motorsports are among the most watched events in the world, with races happening across different continents, with some of the best drivers competing.
In the Philippines, motorsport is not quite as popular as it is in the rest of the world. There are still a good number of racing events in the country, though they might not be as celebrated locally as boxing and basketball. Nonetheless, take a close look and you’ll see that Philippine motorsports does have a rich history.
The early history of Filipino Motorsports can be traced back to the high ambitions of talented Filipino drivers. Notable drivers include Arsenio Laurel and Francisco Ventura. Francisco Ventura is known as the father of Filipino motorsport. He was also the founder of the Cam Wreckers, a group of car enthusiasts who aim to participate in competitive races. Ventura was a skilled driver, winning a good number of local and international racing events.
Arsenio Laurel was a member of the famous Laurel family, being the son of former president Jose P. Laurel. He was a skilled kart and drag racer, and was even a licensed helicopter pilot. His greatest racing achievements were at the Macau Grand Prix, which he won using his classic Lotus 22. He continued racing in the Macau Circuit until 1967, when he was involved in a crash against a sea wall that took his life.
These drivers helped jumpstart interest in Filipino motorsports. In fact, the Philippine Grand Prix was held in the country well into the 1970s.
The 1980s and 90s were a tough time for Filipino motorsports, with the exception of a few key moments. One of these moments was the participation of drives like Arthur Tuason, Boy Eusebio, and Kiko de La Rama. They raced against the popular Toyota Celicas in circuit racing, along with a few rally events.
Other notable drivers during the 1990s were Angelo Barretto and Jovy Marcelo. Barretto was known for his excellent touring car performances in Europe. Jovy Marcelo, meanwhile, was one of the most successful young drivers in the country. He won the Atlantic Championship in 1991 and began competing in the famous CART Series. He unfortunately lost his life in a crash during a practice run in 1992.
The 2000s saw the emergence of many young drivers, and the increase in the number of motorsport events across the country. This included two female drivers: Gady De La Merced and Michele Bumgarner. Both women became Asian Formula Three drivers, and achieved success across Asia and beyond.
The touring car scene was also buzzing, with drivers like Paolo Lofamia and Enzo Pastor. Lofamia was a Circuit Showdown champion, which is one of the most popular race events in the country. Pastor, meanwhile, participated in the NASCAR Whelen Euro Series, and the Asian V8 Championship. He showed immense talent and success on the track.
Perhaps the most popular name in Filipino motorsport today is Marlon Stockinger. He was an Asian Karting champion who became a Junior Formula 1 driver for Lotus. He continues to race in both formula and touring events, and is currently dating Miss Universe 2015 Pia Wurtzbach.
Despite the many setbacks, Filipino motorsports is still able to find some shining and growing moments to pave way for the next generation of racers.