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ADVOCACY MindaNOW: One day as a rookie race driver

DAVAO CITY (MindaNews/08 Nov) — I was at Clark in Pampanga earlier this week to attend a race driving lessons at the Clark International Speedway racing school and race track. I was sorry to see Clark this way. It’s a sorry sight for what was once an international hub and a place everyone wanted to visit.  When the Americans were there, it was like arriving in a US city. Well for some, it  WAS indeed, an American city, minus of course the snow.

This week , it was a bit deserted.  Not too many vehicles plied  the streets. The hotels looked uninhabited. And the casinos’ parking spaces were empty although  still with their fancy lights and glaring neon signs.

Clark was a sad sight. It’s a lost glory.
RACING LESSONS — But there’s excitement and  noise at one side of this town, courtesy of the Clark’s Tuason  Racing School, owned and ran by young car racing enthusiast John Pierre Tuason.

Some  15, mostly  young,  sports car owners and members of the Davao Classic and Sports Cars Club skippered by Veteran Racer  Willie Torres of the University of Mindanao, flew in from Davao, revved and raced training cars for one full day. I was the oldest ( never-mind the details,  please) of the group.  But my knees steadied all throughout the day. Now I know why they say some adrenalin rush is good to turn back the age clock!

Not-too-young  Businessman Sonny Gonzales ignored muscle pains  as his Porsche barreled down the race track not looking back even for a  moment. Willie, who had been racing in the same tracks together with the country’s circuit champion Vincent “Enteng” Floirendo,  drove  his turbo-charged  racer with son Paolo on the passenger seat. It was an unusual father-and- son bonding time and Paolo looked giddy upon alighting from the car  after a few laps. “Na hilo ako, Tito”, ( “I felt nauseated”)  he told me. No more of that kind of a bonding, I guess.  Young businessman Carlo Lorenzana, who tried the car with a few turns,   was effusive describing how Willie’s soaped up “EVOLUTION”  was a speed “monster”!

THE ROOKIE AND THE VETERAN. Former Presidential Adviser for Mindanao Jesus Dureza (left) who also served as Palace Peace Adviser, Press Secretary and government peace panel chair in the negotiations with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front is proving that racing is for the aging, too. Now in his mid-60s, Dureza, who calls himself a rookie, is shown here with veteran racer Guillermo Torres, Jr., president of the University of Mindanao, at the Clark race tracks today, Monday. Torres is also the president of the Davao Classics and Sports Club Club .Dureza is presently publisher of Mindanao Times.

We all flew into Clark on the AIR ASIA plane from Davao and  went through a lecture session, a few tryout runs and exercises with racing cars provided by the school and got the chance to race a few laps at the speedway tracks.
DRIVING TIPS — The day-long race driving training lesson was actually a “return to basics” and instructive for all those who drive vehicles, whether you race or not.

Here are a few tips.

1) The  safest and proper way to hold the steering wheel is with both hands  at points 9 o’clock and 3 o’clock position for easier maneuverability and quick turn and return. One-hand driving or holding the steering wheel with one hand at 12 o’clock position is wrong!
2) Stay as close as possible to the steering wheel. Not with outstretched and stiff  arms. One way to  get the right distance is to reach  the steering wheel  on its top portion with your outstretched hands but allow the palm of the hand to overhang and wrap over it. Then after adjusting the distance of your seat, grab the steering wheel on both sides at the 9 and 3 o’clock positions. This way, you will notice a bending angle of your arms. This allows maneuverability and control.

3) The HEEL of the left  foot ( for the clutch) must touch the floor. So your foot is angled upwards and not flat on the floor.

4) Always brake hard in a straight line. Don’t slam your brakes  when making a turn or curbing. ( In racing, the rule is slam hard on your brakes at the first instance and gradually release them.)

5) Not too fast in making turns or you will “understeer”  (popularly called “overshoot”) your curb.  Hitting hard on the brakes while curbing will “oversteer” and you lose control of the vehicle. You should slowly brake and simultaneously quickly releasing accelerator or gas pedal.

6) While driving fast and approaching curbs, brake before starting to turn ( remember: brake only in a straight line)  to ensure a large arc and accelerate only when you reach the “APEX ” of the curb. (the APEX is the imaginary point towards  the center of the sharp curb). Accelerate only upon reaching the APEX , NOT BEFORE.

7) Turn “LATE” not “EARLY” to allow an arc in making a curb.

8) Don’t be in a hurry to shift gears. Take your time.

9) Get that right foot off the gas pedal while shifting

10) NEVER be in a NEUTRAL gear position.Always be in gear to have full  control of the vehicle.

11) Get that DIRTY LEFT FOOT off the clutch after shifting

12) Always accelerate gradually.

I will write a bit more about my rookie experience next time. Until then.    (Lawyer Jesus G. Dureza was government peace panel chair in the negotiations with the MILF under the Arroyo administration from 2001 to 2003 and was later named Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process (2005 to 2008). He heads Advocacy MindaNOW Foundation, Inc. and was recently named publisher of the Davao City-based Mindanao Times. This piece is from his syndicated column, Advocacy MindaNOW).

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