Just this past Sunday (07/26/2015), Manila’s motoring community had suffered yet another loss – Team A’s Iori Suzuki, known as either “Batman” or “Horse-san” had suddenly passed away in a tragic road accident in Naic, Cavite during this year’s Tanayburgring drive. I have no exact details, and as a friend of mine had put it over lunch yesterday, even the onlookers have different accounts of what exactly happened.
All had agreed though that he was attempting to pass (overtake) a very slow moving truck when it happened. Again, I have no exact details as to what had happened, and at this time, it would be best not to speculate and instead wait for the results of current, ongoing investigations into the matter.
To those who’ve known him, Iori was a total all-around nice guy. A good friend of mine pointed out that he was one of the guys in the car community who has no natural enemies. It was certainly true, he had no air of pomp going around him and he was readily available to talk whenever someone tapped him on the shoulder.
While I hadn’t shared as close a connection to him as his mates in ACE and other groups have, we spoke at length whenever we could, sharing stories over smokes down at the main Sushi Machine shop. He’d also shown me the works being done to his car, which at the time we’d met was a bad-ass ducktail, reminiscent of his Osaka roots and worked on personally by the shop’s owner himself. One other time, they were working on plexiglass replacements for his headlight lenses since they’d done a projector headlight conversion. He’d even asked me once why I’d never been on the Tanay runs, and I shrugged because it always seemed that during those times I’d be either doing something (most runs occur during my sister’s birthday weekend) or Aska would not be in tiptop shape for such a drive.
Apart from his red Toyota MR2 (SW20), he’s also the owner of the Toyota Corona (XT130) wagon made popular on the Youtube series “The Corona Adventures”.
While he (easily lot of us within our little community) is a proponent of spirited driving when applicable, he was a bigger proponent of road safety and courtesy. He is one of the organizers of the massively popular “EpicTanay Matsuri”, an annual driving event (that I somehow fail to miss yearly as well) that goes around the Sierra Madre mountains, a route that had been dubbed in recent years as the Tanayburgring, an obvious home to the famed Nurburgring.
To those who’re uninformed (or just plainly stupid) the drive is not a street race. It never was, and never will be as the drive is organized to bring out the enjoyment in driving along the route, not to get to the destination ahead of the others. It was meant to be a tribute to the rally stages of old in the Philippines, sort of a test of endurance for man and machine.
The sad news hit me early morning Sunday, with posts saying that he’s racing in paradise. It struck me odd because I knew that they were just starting the drive earlier that morning. After checking a few friends’ posts, I came to a chilling conclusion that it was indeed true somehow. I didn’t want to believe it, I wanted to believe that it was a joke, a very sick one, that all of my car guy friends were pulling off. Then I pm’d someone who I thought had more info, and sure enough, he told me of the tragedy that had just occurred. I wondered for my other friends’ safety, but after a few minutes, everyone else had posted, assuring me of their safe return and that the drive was canceled, an event that never got canceled even during adverse weather conditions.
I wanted to rush over but Aska was out for grocery getter duties. I sat in my chair for close to an hour, wondering at what could’ve gone wrong as Iori was an excellent driver, on and off the track. While we were not entirely that close personally, this one struck home with me because these are the car people I hang out with the most. I do hope that the investigation turns up much needed facts, as it seems that the truck that clipped him had somehow fled the scene, along with the motorcycle that was headed for a collision with his car. Again, I hope that no one makes uncalled for comments, especially if you do not know the guy, nor met him personally.
One commenter from Top Gear’s Facebook page even had the gall to question the late man’s knowledge of road manners and safety, as shown in this photo below. I could not help but reply to him in an attempt to call him out on his own lack of understanding of the man himself, and the circumstances surrounding the tragedy.
I no longer have a belief in deities nor an afterlife. But if I would, I’d want to imagine Iori with his MR2, the car he built himself and never wanted to part with, driving along the roads in the sky.
Until we meet again, Horse-san.
**edit : due to Aska being in the shop for repairs, I was unable to even pay a visit during the wake. He was buried this past weekend (08/01/2015) and his passenger is slowly on her way to recovery. If you would like to support in some way, please check Sushi Machine’s page on Facebook for more details.