I was fortunate to have been invited to participate in the Motorsports Development Program. Organized by the Automobile Association of the Philippines (AAP), the Program’s aim is to find and develop the next Philippine racing talent from a pool of young drivers, those of the ages 16-19 years old.
While this writer is definitely beyond the age bracket envisaged by the AAP, I still wanted to pick up a few tricks in order to become a champion in my racing discipline. You can’t fail to not pick up a few tricks if the program’s chief instructor is Coach Vip Isada, 10-time national rally champion. Assisting him that day were other champion racers like Art Guevara, Bebot Reyes, Ivan Isada, and Milo Rivera, the latter the Philippine’s delegate to the FIA Young Driver Excellence Academy and the man to beat in the National Slalom Series.
The younger participants only had to be licensed drivers and able to bring their own vehicle for the driving drills. They didn’t have to pay one red cent for the privilege. The old people like us had to cough out some dough, but the outlay was a veritable steal, as the event is heavily subsidized thanks to the support of the FIA, the world governing body for motorsport.
This event was an excuse to bring out our Project Elantra. Recently regaining mobility, the car had to be driven at some distance and be tested in conditions approximating a raceday. This would enable us to evaluate whether it was really fit for fighting or not. It wasn’t, but that’s another story.
Held in the Mega Tent Events Venue in Libis, Quezon City, the Program had both a space for lectures as well as a vast concrete lot where we could do the driving exercises. During the lectures, we were taught the proper driving position, where the ability to properly control the car stems from. Even how one holds the steering wheel, and how far must one be from the wheel, was a key factor in how well one drives.
The lectures almost required a reboot of our preexisting notions on driving. But that does not even begin to describe the difficulty of the driving exercises.
There were several driving drills conducted, some of them with the and the first one was a simple acceleration and braking exercise. The trick is to accelerate and brake as quickly and as smoothly as possible within determined points. Braking swiftly and smoothly is probably the most difficult thing to do in a car, I realized.
A notable absence from the driving drills was the use of stopwatches or any timing devices. The point of the exercises was not the time it took to do them but to practice the inputs you must do. In the “slalom” exercise, we were asked to operate the throttle and steering in such a way to learn how to utilize weight transfer, or the shifting of vehicle weight as one maneuvers the car. It was tempting to take the exercise like a race event, but Project Elantra’s front tires were rubbing on the fender wells, and was overheating, so I couldn’t push it even if I wanted to.
The day culminated with a basic autocross course, where students were able to experience what a proper slalom course was like. It started to rain heavily, giving everyone the chance to experience low grip and visibility conditions. Again, they didn’t record any times, but I hope the others had as much fun as I had.
I am looking forward to the next modules, and hope to pick up even more knowledge in racecraft and other skills in relation to motorsports. Interested participants can For more details or interested individuals above 19 years old, please contact the AAP Motorsport Development Program Secretariat, Amanda Isada at 0917-849-0008.
- We learned from Coach Vip’s lecture that the fitment of a Limited-slip Differential to the front axle in a front- or four-wheel-drive car results in the loss of the self-centering action of the steering wheel. Now we understand why our Project Elantra’s steering wheel does not automatically return to center when we let go of it. It does so on the stock Elantra we also have, hence our consternation.
- It’s interesting to note the stack of talent that can be seen among the youngsters. We saw Polo Bautista, Carmudi.com.ph Racing Team’s driver in the Flat Out Racing Series (FORS), members of UP Diliman’s Formula SAE team, and other people from disciplines such as karting and slalom, participating in the program
- People were looking at Project Elantra and asking us if it was a drift car. Or if it was a Nissan Bluebird.