Pinoy racing team in 1st Nascar stint
|Filipino racing drivers will compete at Nascar in the US for the first time in April this year. Photo by Monique Lachica, ABS-CBN News|
MANILA, Philippines - Filipino car racing enthusiasts can expect to be more involved in one of the United States' biggest racing events in April.
For the first time, a 6-member Philippine delegation will be sent to take to the world stage of racing at the Nascar RacingEx World Circuit at the Charlotte Motor Speedway in North Carolina.
Leading the group are veteran racers Carlos Anton and Mike Potenciano, who both have competed in numerous local and international car races.
Joining them is 20-year-old Stefano Marcelo and a female team of Pia Boren, Michelle Bumgarner, and Gabby Dela Merced.
The Nascar RacingEx is an entry level racing circuit which uses full-scale 865 sprint cup cars.
While the members of the Philippine Team are no beginners to the sport, they admit that the Nascar race track will be very different from any they have been on.
"We don't have any oval tracks here. The race tracks I've been on, they have both turns. So you really need to have a strong neck and upper body," Bumgarner told ABS-CBN news.
While slightly being at a disadvantage, the team's members hope to make up for it by doubling their efforts and being completely focused during their training in the country.
They say physical and mental preparations are crucial to allow them to adjust very quickly to the changes they will face in the actual competition.
Boren also explains that while they may be quite unfamiliar with the Nascar oval track, their skills will be enough to ensure that they do well in the race.
"You have to have a natural affinity for it. It's just a matter of getting used to the track. When you're out there you have to know everything cause it all happens really quick," she said.
Marcelo, the youngest member of the team, expressed excitement over the "once-in-a-lifetime" opportunity of representing the flag in one of the "pinnacles of racing in America".
Marcelo, who has been racing for 8 years now, said that it is their main goal as a team to show everyone that Filipinos are capable of winning in Nascar. "We want to show people that we can take on other nationalities and be competitive in the racing scene. I think we'll put on a good show," Marcelo said.
He added that while the sport is not as popular as others in the country, he is positive that they will be received well by the public.
The team will head to Las Vegas in April where they are expected to undergo rigorous and extensive training.
They are set to familiarize themselves with the cars that they will be using for the actual race around the dreaded oval track which runs a total distance of 2.4 kilometers with turns banked at 24 degrees.
Although the team admits that it will take a while before the sport is completely embraced by Filipinos, opportunities are already being seized to make the country a well-known breeding ground for speed car racers.
Potenciano explained various companies and groups have offered assistance to allow them to fulfill the Nascar dream.
All they can ask for now is the untiring support of the country come April 27 when they traverse the straightaway and zip their way towards the Philippines' very first victory in one of the world's biggest car racing arenas.