Mendoza: Sugata out of Vios Cup for Thailand race

MICHONUBU “The Rocker” Sugata had always wanted to become a car racer.

But fate was unkind to him, and he failed to achieve his Formula One dream.

He found consolation with his acquisition of 86, Toyota’s iconic sports car.

Every time he had the time, he would race his 86 around the Fuji International Speedway built by the foot of Mt. Fuji, the usual venue of the famed F1.

Modesty aside, I’d been there at Fuji IS several times. And, each time, I tried my best to imagine sniffing the smell of screeching, burning rubber.

I’ve always adored car racing since I watched a movie on F1 when I was in college, starring Yves Trintignan(?), a French heartthrob at that time. That movie remains a classic today. I wonder if Yves is still alive.

Sugata’s 86 was his prized possession for years.

“I saved for it as it was my dream car ever since I was in school,” said Sugata, who went to Toyota straight from the university.

But as fate would have it, Sugata would soon find himself selling his 86.

“I needed a car for a growing family,” said Sugata, married and who has a daughter (concert pianist) and a son (classic guitarist). “But today, I still think about my 86. Maybe, I’d buy one soon.”

But when he left the country last year as president of Toyota Motor Philippines, there was no 86 in his garage.

What he left behind is the Vios Cup, which he started in 2014, and will roar off anew at Clark today. As usual, admission is free.

“No F1 for me but with my Vios Cup, I am more than fulfilled,” he said when he launched what is now considered as the No. 1 circuit race in the country.
The fourth edition will have its usual fare of superstars from both the silver screen and an array of grizzled racing veterans.

Unfortunately, Sugata will not race today like he did last year. That will leave Satoru Suzuki, Sugata’s successor as TMP president, without a rival for podium honors.

Besides being busy with his new posting as president of Toyota Motor Thailand, Sugata, in an e-mail to Toyota’s Lynnette Limcuando yesterday, said: “Please tell Al I am also preparing for my first race in Bangkok to be held in June.”

So there. A racer will always be a racer, no matter where he is.
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