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The Civic Type R awakened the Honda fanboy in me on my first proper track day

The author should take his stomach into consideration next time

Early bird catches the VTEC. PHOTO BY JUSTIN YOUNG

Ever since I started following the local motorsport scene in my teenage years, I’ve always wanted to visit the racing circuits from out of town. Subic International Raceway is obviously out of the picture, but the remaining locations are still legendary places in their own right.

I’ve always wanted to chase that itch for speed in closed courses, and I finally got that wish when Honda Cars Philippines invited us to a circuit experience with the new Civic Type R at Clark International Speedway.

Is this real life? Is this just fantasy? PHOTOS BY JUSTIN YOUNG AND FROM ASSETTO CORSA

Apart from the multiple virtual laps done on Assetto Corsa, my first time visiting CIS had not been too long ago during the final round of the 2022 Philippine Autocross Championship Series, as a spectator with a camera. It had been surreal seeing my 2012 Honda Jazz 1.5 V parked in front of the track entrance.

After the event, I had managed to take a cruise around Turns 10 to 14, clipping apexes and taking photos like how I’d do with my controller.

Not long after, I did not expect to experience this so soon.

It’s like being at a toy store. PHOTOS BY JUSTIN YOUNG

Fast-forward to March 2023, Honda invited Civic Type R owners of the new and last generations, and select motoring journalists for the “Ultimate Track Experience” at CIS. Never in my life would have I thought that I’d be chauffeured to a racetrack—comfortably in the new HR-V RS Turbo—and breathe the same air as like-minded VTEC enthusiasts.

Way different compared to SM North EDSA. PHOTOS BY JUSTIN YOUNG

The atmosphere was electric, seeing brand-new FL5 cars and their owners getting the feel of their brand-new rides, under the instruction of race car driver Georges Ramirez, while the FK8 drivers followed along. On the other side, the rest of the media tried out the go-kart challenge to try and beat the time set by HCPI president Masahiko Nakamura around the smaller track.

I quickly hopped onto the kart and set a few laps. Unfortunately, due to the printer not working properly and the time flying quickly, I never got to know my best time.

POV: You're trying to keep your digestion in check. PHOTOS BY JUSTIN YOUNG

The day wasn’t over when I got a chance to ride alongside my VISOR colleague Simonn Ang in the new FL5. Admittedly, I felt nothing but giddy anticipation of my first-ever lap around CIS in real life. Then, the go signal was raised, and my body was ready…until I realized that I was also a photographer, too.

While Simonn clipped apexes and braked hard for three laps, I was looking through a 7.5cm screen of my camera framing the shots right and attempting to record a cinematic lap. In the end, my stomach did not take the g-forces too kindly, and walking to the lunch area was a bit of a challenge.

Alongside the stock FK8s were heavily modified examples. PHOTOS BY JUSTIN YOUNG

After my digestive system calmed down, I carried on shooting the rest of the day, soaking in the paddock, and finding the right vantage points for trackside photography.

Looking through my preview photos still feels unbelievable, even after nine years of doing this hobby and coming from shooting virtually on Gran Turismo. “Pinch me, I must be dreaming,” my mind kept saying.

Racing driver and content creator Chenee Hazel brought in the grandfather of Type Rs. PHOTOS BY JUSTIN YOUNG

Once the final group picture was taken, it was a free-for-all on the track. The Ramirez family members were accepting ride-along hot laps until the track closed for the day, and despite the earlier stomach disruption, I volunteered to go again without a camera this time.

Despite receiving yet another upset tummy afterward, I still couldn’t believe I was being driven around by the son of the late Pocholo Ramirez. Georges was very kind enough to offer advice on having the guts to drive fast and clean around the track: JUST KEEP PRACTICING.

Golden hour is the best hour. PHOTOS BY JUSTIN YOUNG

Also, take anti-nausea medicine before riding with a racing driver. Otherwise, the 100+km ride home would be very unpleasant, especially when you don’t want to risk ruining the interior of a company car.

Justin Young

Justin loves cars of all forms. Molded by motoring TV shows and Internet car culture, he sees the world from a different perspective that not many get to see every day.