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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.