The title of this column was a point of argument for quite a while when I first began using it. There was an opinion argued that we are not amateurs, we are authorities and very well-versed in what we do. I stuck to my guns about the title. Ten years on as I sit as Managing Director of a group that wasn’t expected to survive three issues I stand by the same column title. We are not here because we know everything, we are here because we want to learn more. We can never learn more if we think we know everything.
I have been with many people over the years in the motor racing industry, and I am in awe of people who can put titles like Professional Racecar Driver when they have to fill in a blank beside the words JOB DESCRIPTION. Yet the people in this industry I most admire, all of whom are at the top of their field, are those who approach each day with wonder, with graciousness, with gratitude, with appreciation. One of the most storied racecar drivers of all time once said that he could never call himself a racecar driver while he was still driving. That could only be decided on when you could look back and see all that you have done, and whether you were worthy of a title that so many truly deserving others have earned. Besides which, he said, it isn’t really a title you should be giving yourself. Admittedly, this isn’t going to go over well if you try to explain it to an immigration official asking what you do for a living, but I think you get the idea.
The first time we heard mention of this whole magazine idea from Ken Quintal was, appropriately enough, at the racetrack. I was running in the Miata Cup race series (of the Miata Club of the Philippines) as was Miguel Bichara, both of us being supported by Mon Villacorta of Car Shack and the Car Shack-Bridgestone Racing Team, his trusty and highly dedicated team of mechanics and his friend and associate Kevin Limjoco. Miguel was Ken’s high school classmate, and Ken had called him a few days before saying something like “Hey, I’ve been asked about doing this car magazine thing by some other guys. You’re still into cars, right?” Miguel was at the time heavily into cars and out of bikes following the motorcycle crash of his brother and one of our best friends, Raffy, a few years prior. Miguel told Ken to come over that weekend to Subic International Raceway to see what was happening. The rest until now is the first part of our history.
We were, and by my definition still are, amateurs. We may know a fairly large amount, and have experienced a whole lot, but we are still always trying to grow, to learn and to experience ever more. Being the unknown in the equation was always held against us, and stories now come out from people who wish they hadn’t listened when the “experienced” hands told them we shouldn’t be touched. But here we are, and that trip has been riddled with all the good, bad and seriously scary that almost always accompanies a full life.
Many years ago, way before C!, I stood outside the covered fences of the historic Monza race circuit just outside Milan. I was visiting the young lady who would later agree to be my wife, and who at the time agreed to go with me to watch the Italian Grand Prix. She translated for me as an Italian grandmother listened while her grandson who had climbed a tree was giving us lap by lap commentary as the race progressed. I had of course been in the stands for F1 races before, but this race I chose to just walk around the whole time, and what an experience it was. Nowadays I have access to the pits, paddocks and just about anywhere I want but I still always go out and walk around in the middle of the fans and the “villages.” The experience is always uplifting and exciting, and I still end up buying race gear and memorabilia like I did before.
James Deakin and I went together to the Italian Grand Prix at Monza. Before I went by train and walked miles. This time he and I picked up a car, our access and parking passes and drove sedately through where everyone else was walking, indeed where I had walked before. We drove into the restricted parking area which looked vaguely familiar, and we parked beside Bernie’s Benz. I looked around and saw a fence through which, years ago, I had tried to wedge open a flap in order to see inside, to see the drivers and all the excitement. Basically I was parking where before I had tried very hard to look into. It was both heartening and humbling.
Incidentally, I spent a fair amount of time that race weekend in the paddocks going to the fences and trying to open up little flaps in strategic places where kids could look in and get just the right angle to see where all the drivers would walk.
Thanks for getting us here. Thanks for being a great bunch to hang out with the first ten years of our humble little journey. May we return the favour for the next ten and more.