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The Fast and the Furious

By Gesel Pereyra-Mangilit as written for The Daily Tribune (www.tribune.net.ph).

If part of your summer agenda is to roast in the sun in the company of gorgeous women while watching the best drivers in the country defy gravity and speed, then head off to Batangas Racing Circuit and catch the first leg of the Asian Formula 3 Racing Series this Sunday, April 25.

Racing enthusiasts of all shapes and sizes were at the Plaza Strip of the Power Plant Mall at Rockwell to witness the AF3 Coronation Night when 15 beautiful women vied for the honor of being this year's Miss Asian Formula 3.Winner Eizza Rancesca Santos Lim got a P100,000 modeling contract and a host of other prizes while the other 14 finalists were to become grid girls for AF3's three races within the Philippines.

AF3 Beauty Contestants

Before the pageant, we sat down for a brief chat with Asian Formula 3 Corporation Chairman Jose Eduardo Pena, who is dad to 16 year old Dado Pena, one of the racers under the Promotions Class. According to Mr. Pena, this year's seven potential racing winners out to dominate the 2.8 km Batangas Racing Circuit are 2001 Overall Champion Jojo Silverio, 2002 Champion Mark Goddard, 2003 second placer Richard Joson, current Formula Ireland Champion John O'Hara, Christian Jones, who won the final two races of 2003, Tyson Sy, who shone in the first round at the Bahrain Grand Prix, and Enzo Pastor. The top five Promotions Class runners are heavy favorite Kenko Miura, Dado Pena, who's another Bahrain GP top driver, Roland Hermoso, touring car driver Carlos Anton and young gun Don Pastor. Lean and lanky Jose Luis Marave or simply Pepon Marave is currently AF3 Champion, winning six out of 12 races in 2003.

AF3 BeautySo how much does it cost to run one of these, I asked, admiring a blood red car on display during the event. "You need around seven to eight million a year to be able to run competitively." That's precisely why we have our local partners or what we call BTW's or Behind The Wheel to sponsor our races. We run races across Asia and we average 10-11 events within the year. Tonight's coronation and launch is just one of those events to promote Asian F3 but the highlight of the event is the April 25 race which will be broadcast live in Channel at 10:30 a.m to 12 noon. The second leg of the Asian F3 will be on May 30 in Subic and the last will be in December. In between May and December, we race in China and across Asia," explains Pena.

An F3 car looks like an F1 car but only smaller. "The chassis, the supporting frame of the car, is from Dallara of Italy. It's actually just below Formula 1 which is a lot faster, running at an amazing 900 horsepower. An F3 car runs at 250 hp. The engines we use come from Toyota, Opel, Renault and Mercedes Benz," says Pena.

And how does one become a race car driver? Where exactly does one start? A lot of our race car drivers honed their skills in karting, most of them starting as early as 6 to 7 years old. Currently the darling of the karting arena is 15 year old Michelle Bumgarner, whose dream is to to be the third female race driver in Formula One, every race car driver's ultimate dream. The road though to F1 is a long and narrow path. There have been many Japanese and a single Malaysian F1 driver in the past, but sadly not one Filipino. Motorsport racing is still a rich man's sport and yes, it does take a lot of money to run a race but considering our roster of talented ad very skilled drivers, there is hope yet that someday one Filipino will get a chance to run alongside Schumacher or Barichello.

"Though motorsport racing seems fun and enjoyable, dedication, self discipline and confidence are key factors," adds Pena.

Photo credit: http://www2.asianf3.net/gallery/Miss_AF3_Coronation

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