This election exercise was physically, mentally, and emotionally exhausting regardless of which side of the political fence you stood on. Now that the dust has settled, we all deserve a break from the toxicity of it all.
Hobbies are the best diversions. They make you happy, feed your soul, and keep you young. For myself and many others belonging to Generation X, motorsports is our hobby of choice. Inside every grown man (and many a woman) is a young tyke with a need for speed. Whether a taipan, top executive, or entrepreneur, many fantasize about racing at top speed in a bona fide sports car.
Motorsports have had a long history in the Philippines spanning more than 50 years. Its heyday was in the 1970s and early ’80s when rallies dominated the scene. Old timers will remember Dante Silverio, Pocholo Ramirez, Arthur Tuazon, and Freddie Masigan as the vanguards of the sport. For a brief moment, the Philippines even hosted several grand prix races in Greenhills, Luneta, and Cebu where racers from Asia and Europe participated. In the 1980s, several Filipino rally drivers competed regionally, including MP Turbo’s Mike Potenciano.
Car rallies took a back seat in the 1990s as circuit racing emerged. With the support of Toyota Racing Development (TRD), the Corolla Cup racing series became the entry point for fledgling racecar drivers. Champions of the Corolla Cup got to compete in the higher league Toyota Formula 3. We remember Tyson Sy, Gabby Dela Merced, and Enzo Pastor as being the fastest drivers of their generation.
The 2000s saw the rise of JP Tuazon’s Ford Focus Cup, Ford Fiesta Cup and, later, the Toyota Vios Cup. JP is the son of the motorsports legend, Arthur Tuazon. As many as 60 cars participated in these circuit races which were held in the Clark international speedway, Subic, and the Batangas Racing Circuit. Young guns like Dominique Ochoa, Red Diwa, and Sam YG reigned supreme.
After the Vios Cup, motorsports lay low for a few years, except for a few rally crosses and drifting races at the Driftwood Adventure Park and R-33 race track.
Following the pandemic-induced hiatus, three young Filipino motorheads are again fanning the flames for motorsports in the Philippines. The trio, collectively known as the Radical Group PH (@radicalcarsph on Instagram), is composed of Enrique Hormillo, Antonio Brias, and Mark Stöckinger.
Hormillo has been racing go-carts since he was 14 and is both the driving coach and business manager of the group. Brias is the technical director, having graduated from the Royal College of London with a degree in Auto Engineering. He was once the chief engineer of Ferrari Philippines. Stöckinger is a famed Filipino driver who raced for the Lotus F1 Team, the Status Grand Prix, and Formula Renault. Stöckinger leads the drivers academy of the Radical Group.
In 2019, Radical Group PH obtained the rights to distribute Radical cars in the Philippines and organize races according to Fédération Internationale de l’Automobile (FIA) standards.
For those unaware, Radical is based in the United Kingdom and is the world’s largest manufacturer of track sportscars. Radical cars offer the best of both worlds — they are faster than supercars but priced at a fraction of a Porsche. With more than 2,000 cars sold worldwide, Radical has also become a specialist in organizing races. There are Radical Cup races in the UK, Scandinavia, Canada, the US, South Korea, Australia, and the Middle East.
Radical has nine sportscar models in its lineup, two of which are available in the Philippines, the SR1 and SR3. Both are open top models.
The SR1 is the first step in the Radical ladder. They are ideal for enthusiasts looking to take their circuit driving to the next level. The SR1 has a 182-horsepower engine that takes you from one to 100 kph in 3.5 seconds. It has a top speed of 222 kph. It is as fast as an Aston Martin Vantage, but nimbler.
Hormillo says that the SR1 is ideal for those training to become competitive drivers. It is forgiving of mistakes but rewards you if you get the technique right. The SR1 is equipped with on-board telemetry and videos that allow you to replay and analyze your drive.
The SR3 is a more sophisticated sports car. Not only is it slightly bigger, it also has more torque. Its engine has a power output of 226 horsepower that takes you from 0 to 100 kph in 3.1 seconds. Its top speed is 237 kph.
This SR3 is equipped with all-new electrical architecture that allows the driver access to more data and feedback than the SR1. It also features a multi-function steering wheel with a built-in LCD display to bring real-time information to the driver. The steering wheel is akin to those used in high-level Le Mans cars.
The SR3 is for the gentleman driver who insists on the best when playing on the track. It is half the price of a comparable supercar.
Radical Cars Philippines carries all the spare parts and maintenance facilities to keep the car in top condition. They even offer garage services, right on the race track, for a small fee.
For those who wish to try out track racing without the responsibility of purchasing their own car, Radical Cars has a program called Arrive & Drive. For a minimum fee, one gets a dedicated car for one race season that includes the maintenance crew, car fluids and brakes, and three sets of tires. One season is comprised of three weekends where Fridays are dedicated to testing and practice laps, Saturdays are for qualifying heats, and Sundays are for sprint and endurance races. Additional practice days can be arranged. The winner of the Philippine Radical Cup gets to compete in the UK as the Philippine representative in the global grand prix.
All those who purchase a Radical sports car or subscribe to the Arrive & Drive program will be trained by Marlon Stöckinger who heads the Radical Training Academy.
The men behind Radical Philippines are committed to the vision of reviving motorsports in the Philippines. At first, they admit, motorsports will be confined to “gentlemen drivers,” mostly from the business community. The cost of entry could be prohibitive, after all. But as circuit racing becomes more popular, the trio hopes to attract more sponsors to make it more affordable for the next generation of Filipino drivers. With support from the government and private sponsors, Philippines motorsports can be completive again as it was in the ’70s.
For the next few weeks, I will be at the racetrack in Clark to clear my head and shake off the election stress. By the end of it, I will emerge refreshed, ready to fight another day.
Andrew J. Masigan is an economist