My First Track Day II : Clark Is Not A Superhero And The Legend Gasolina El Cheapo

The plan on Saturday night was to sleep early, and rise early. The head of the MLPH delegation to the track day, Kap Patrick, told us that the rally point would be in Shell Balintawak, just before entering NLEX. So it was all clear to me, I have to sleep to make the most of my track day. But suddenly, wild laptop appeared! And what was supposed to be a quick browse through my FB and the MLPH boards took three hours because I spent three seconds logging in and the next two hours, fifty nine minutes and fifty seven seconds browsing 9gag and checking out newer Rage Comic strips.

Sleep early they said, it will be fun they said.

I woke up at around 0445 – to the sound of rain. I looked on the board announcements – the track day will go on rain or shine. Perfect, some legit excuse to slide my ass around. I made some hot water and milk, checked the tools in the trunk, checked the car to make sure everything is tight and walked around it. My old man got up – he’s gonna co-pilot on this coz I figured two guys pushing a stalled car will be faster than one guy can. For some odd reason, it took us like the next forty minutes to get ourselves readied and out the gate.

With Balintawak like a good fifteen or so kilometers away, we made like heck and drove out. Amazingly, we got there a little before 6am and there were just a few people there – Hendrix (one of the MLPH MSC guys and now driving an AE92), Roro (the guy who navigated me through my first autocross event) and this other dude who had a Civic. Great, legit MLPH. One of my other friends, John, arrived some minutes later followed by Patrick and Paeng, who I didn’t know was coming. Then while waiting for our last guy to come in, Percy, we took some bites. A red GSR blasted by a few minute later – he apparently overshot us. We took off a little before 0700 – and let me remind you that the original plan was to be in Clark by 0730 because registration starts at 0800. Great stuff, we have like, at that point barely an hour to get ourselves to the opposite end of NLEX. Off we went anyways.

While on the highway, I realized many things about my box. A fifth gear is really meant for highway driving. I mean, I love the acceleration of the KM110 tranny,  and the fact that none of my friends can find the reverse gear on my car. However at sustained highway speeds, the engine sounds so, stressed out – which wouldn’t be the case if I had an overdriven 5th gear. Also, the other guys were gunning at 160 kph all the way, while c’est moi was steadying it out at between 100 and 120 kph. So yes, perhaps a 5 speed may seem to be a good upgrade.

About less than an hour later, we arrived at Clark. I looked at the clock on my dash – 0800. Great, we can just somehow make it to the registration and driver’s briefing.  Upon entering Clark, we were told to gas up coz this will be the last legit gas station that we will pass between the gate and the track.

Off we went to gas up when I looked at the prices Petron……Blaze……50.30…..XCS…..48..hey!! Blaze was at least four pesos cheaper here! Holy! Before I knew it, I gassed up like 20 liters.

Sweet Jesus, Blaze.

After the gas up, off we went to the track itself. Apparently, the track is a good fifteen minute drive from the gas station. Upon entering the track, we were recognized as the MLPH peeps, and admitted into the pits. Lined alongisde the track was a whole collection of cars – Civic of many marques – FDs, EGs, EFs, SiRs…KP82s Starlets, AE92 Corollas, T191 Coronas, Corolla LEs, Cefiros… It was like a regular carshow except these guys mean business with their Blacktops, KE20s, 4AGs and the like. I wanted to just play chicken and sit the day out – the people must’ve thought they were daydreaming when they saw a boxy Lancer drive up the pits.

After getting settled in our little turf for the day, we proceeded to register ourselves, the cars and sign on a piece of paper freeing the hosts from liability should we encounter any mishaps while on track. The driver’s briefing was given by Anton Carlos, MP Turbo’s protege or so I heard. Anyway, I picked up a lot of nifty advice from the man – how to attack the corners, how to not get thrown around without a racing bucket seat and that the little box they put up before the straightaway was  meant to save us from planting ourselves in the retaining wall. After the briefing, pics with the organizers and the banner coz apparently they abide by the ‘pics or didn’t happen’ rule.

Then we proceeded to take out the unneeded stuff in our cars – one of them had a boom box and that was taken out. For my part, I removed the spare tire, tools and pillows. We lined up for stickers, and a zip tie on the wrist to confirm who’s driving and who’s not. Helmets on, we proceeded to the ‘gate’.

My first session in a real race track. I was told by the marshal that we need to make at least four laps before coming into the pit. Ok then, let’s go already. When the go signal was given, I released the clutch and off I went. Man, the feeling of speed was incredible. I know, my car barely makes 160 but who gives a fuck – most everyday drivers do not corner at 100 kph. Before I knew it, the first four laps were  done and I was to do a fifth ‘cool down’ lap. After the action it was back to the pit to check the vid  that I recorded – thanks to my sister’s iPod.

My second session in a real race track. The same marshal told me the same thing he told me thirty minutes ago. But since I had gotten quite acquainted with the track lay out, I was more confident to speed things up a bit. Starting off the line with some wheel spin, I upped my pace a little more and became more confident with the corners. Some of the corners, the car was powersliding or something, but let’s say losing traction. Oh this is what it is all about – no longer am I doing things in Gran Turismo or Initial D. No sir, I was running at speed on a legit track! But of course overconfidence got the best of me and I ended up spinning out on one of the corners. Before it happened, I knew the car was sliding and losing grip in the rear. But I didn’t counter steer because I thought it was too early and I’ll end up in the grass. And I wanted to savor the feeling of going sideways in excess of 60 kph. But as it was, I’ll end up in the grass anyway as the rear spun out too much and I was unable to recover when my brain took control back from my uh heart. I suddenly remembered an article I read from Hot Rod Magazine : “In case of a spin out, counter steer gradually and both feet in.”  It means you have to step on the clutch so the engine and drive train won’t get mushed when the car spins the opposite way, and brakes to slow the car down. So there I was, on the grass, spun out – half dazed and half wanting to do it again. I looked behind, no one’s behind me, and back on the track I went. The vid is on my FB if you wanna see.

I probably turned in four five lap sessions before the day was over. Come 4pm, we had to pack up and leave because some of the guys still have to be with family. Aww too bad, I was waiting for the rain to come in so I can run with my fogs on – rally style!!! But then, home beckons and off we went. Again I was left behind on the NLEX.

It was an awesome day for driving, and one that I won’t quite forget for a long time to come.

[originally posted on]


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