Where speed matters

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By Danny B. Dangcalan

A Walk in the Park

Monday, April 14, 2014


THE abandoned old Bacolod Airport came alive over the weekend as 104 sports cars intensely raced against each other for the 1st Bacolod Speed Festival.

All roads led to the Bacolod Airport, at least for racecar drivers and enthusiasts, from Friday to Sunday, as racers from Manila, Davao, Cebu, Iloilo, and Bacolod ride their competitive Hondas, Subarus, Toyotas, Mitsubishis, and Nissans to the finish line.

More than P200,000 in cash were at stake for the winners in different categories, including Pro, Expert, Sportsman, Hotstreet, Quick 8, and Overall Champion, according to even organizer Jao Varela.

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In partnership with the city government of Bacolod, the Speed Festival was a good boost for the city tourism, says Michael Espino, their public relations officer.

Espino noted that in the Visayas and Mindanao, only Bacolod has an ideal site for drag racing - at least 1.2-kilometer long. The runway of the old airport fits the bill, and with the right curve for spectators, he adds.

The 1st Bacolod Speed Festival was supervised by the Automobil Association of the Philippines which sets the rules and regulations of the race, Espino said.

Thus the 1st Bacolod Speed Festival promotes proper drag racing among enthusiasts, he stressed.

Each participant pays a registration fee of P3,500 that includes race equipment, Espinosa adds. The fee is good for three days of activities: qualifying and dial-in on April 11, race day on April 12, and finals on April 13.

Pre-drag race, a newbie like me assumed it's an all-men game, but watching it last Saturday, I found out that a quarter of the crowd are women, and a quarter more are boys in their teens and twentys.

One excited group in the whole stretch of cars was from the Subaru Club, composed mostly of Subaru enthusiasts from Bacolod and Cebu.

Dr. Philip Anthony Kho says Subaru car owners in Bacolod meet regularly for impromptu gatherings. It's their way of bonding with each other, he says. About 15 Subaru cars from Bacolod joined the race.

The Subaru enthusiasts from Cebu include Julius "JJ" Neri, director of Sun.Star Bacolod and president of Sun.Star Publishing Inc., his brother Atty. Jerome Neri, who writes a motoring column for Sun.Star Cebu, and their cousin, Atty. Jess Garcia, the son of Atty. Alvin Garcia, who is the chairman of Sun.Star Bacolod and former mayor of Cebu City. The Cebu contingent brought in nine Subaru cars.

Jerome Neri, who owns a shop in Cebu that specializes in Subaru cars, was a runner-up to Jed Yulo of Bacolod in the Expert category. Julius Neri's son Pio,17, competed in the Hotstreet category.

The camaraderie between Bacolod and Cebu Subaru enthusiasts is borne out of their good business relationship.

Meanwhile, Espino announced yesterday the winners of the 1st Bacolod Speed Festival: Overall Champion - #27 Jason Castignon of Bacolod (with additional P25,000 cash prize); Pro champion -#31 J BROS of Iloilo (P30,000); Expert champion - #89 Jed Yulo of Bacolod (P25,000); Sportsman champion - #27 Jason Castignon of Bacolod; Hotstreet champion - #42 Andrei Balido of Bacolod (P15,000); and Quick 8 champion - #31 J BROS of Iloilo (P25,000).

To celebrate the success of the 1st Bacolod Speed Festival, the organizers, winners and participants held an after-race party at Dug-out Sports Bar last night.

Published in the Sun.Star Bacolod newspaper on April 14, 2014.

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