Cars > Redline

Toyota’s Gazoo Racing Festival gave me my first experience of a track day

Would countless hours spent on ‘Gran Turismo’ matter in reality?

Which GR vehicle would you take to the track? PHOTO BY LEANDRO MANGUBAT

Toyota Motor Philippines held the Gazoo Racing Festival recently at Clark International Speedway. Upon arriving at the venue, I was greeted by various GR vehicles, including one that was still under wraps. Three activities were lined up where participants would be able to get behind the wheel of the OMR Vios and test their skills around the track.

After the briefing by JP Tuason, the mystery car was revealed to be the new GR 86 (to no one's surprise). PHOTO BY LEANDRO MANGUBAT

The first event was the timed slalom where drivers had to go around a series of cones as fast as possible without knocking them over. The next activity was follow-the-leader where drivers would drive around the circuit led by a safety car, while the final driving activity was a quarter-mile drag race along the main straight.

The cars were all lined up for the timed slalom. PHOTO BY LEANDRO MANGUBAT

Having grown up with racing games like Gran Turismo, I had spent countless hours racing digitally, but would any of that count once the rubber hit the road?

With my virtual lap times around the Nurburgring, I’d like to believe that I was a good racer, but I had to swallow my pride and accept the fact that this was my first time on an actual racetrack.

The pace for follow-the-leader was determined by the slowest driver in the pack. PHOTO BY LEANDRO MANGUBAT

Stories of people crashing cemented the fact that safety is paramount, so I shouldn’t be a reckless fool behind the wheel. While I would have honestly preferred a GR Supra or a GR Yaris, the OMR Vios was a good track car for beginners. It was a good platform to practice basic driving techniques without being overwhelming.

At the end of the track day, the results showed that I wasn’t as good as I thought I was, but that was okay. Compared to drivers such as JP Tuason and Marlon Stockinger, I hadn’t poured in the time, effort and resources needed to become a professional driver, and that’s why I have nothing but respect for these people.

After just two hot laps riding shotgun in the Supra, the author was reaching his limit. PHOTO BY LEANDRO MANGUBAT

Even though I wasn’t able to go all out on the track, I had the opportunity of riding shotgun with Marlon for some hot laps in the GR Supra. Any notion of the car being simply a rebadged BMW was thrown out the window the moment the racing driver floored the throttle.

As he was going all out around the corners, I could tell he was enjoying the GR Supra more than I did—I who was just trying to stay glued to my seat. I could imagine how the physics would play out on Gran Turismo with the oversteer, but experiencing all these forces assaulting my body was quite exhausting.

Marlon Stockinger had as much fun as everyone else that day. PHOTO BY LEANDRO MANGUBAT

Overall, Toyota’s GR Festival was a wonderful but humbling experience as it gave me my first taste of a track day. As a child, I always wanted to be a race driver, but never got the opportunity. Which is why I’m glad to have attended this event.

I’m thankful to Toyota for organizing events like this to promote local motorsports, and also to Marlon Stockinger for sharing his experience in international racing.

Leandro Mangubat

Leandro is our staff writer. Although having a background in mechanical engineering, he enjoys photography and writing more.