The Manilla Sports Car Club is the top classic car association in the Philippines. The Mercedes Benz SL Register, MG T-Series Register, Miata Club of the Philippines, Porsche Club of the Philippines, TR Register and BMW Z Club all operate under its umbrella. Each year the club holds a series of race meetings at Subic International Raceway culminating, in November, with the Vintage and Sports Car Festival.
Subic International Raceway is at Subic Bay, 150 kilometers north of Manilla in Zambales Province, near Olongapo City. Once the largest U.S. military base in Asia, Subic Bay was returned to the Philippines in 1992 becoming a duty-free zone. The circuit is based on the taxiways of the former airport and has garages and workshops on site along with accommodations located in the former U.S. recreation facility.
Now in its tenth year, the festival includes both hillclimb and circuit racing, attracting not only local drivers, but also drivers from Japan and Hong Kong as well.
The cars run together but are separated into classes mainly on previous performance rather than age or specification. The fastest “S” class contained a VW Beetle powered by a highly tuned Porsche 356 engine and a Toyota Celica 1600 GT, the next fastest “BC” class a Lola T70 replica(!), Datsun 240Z and Porsche 911. The “D” class had an Alfa Romeo Giulietta and Opel GT, the E class a Honda N360, MGB and Porsche 356. Finally, there was a Replica class which included a locally built “Lotus Seven,” “Porsche 550 Spider” also locally built and a Westfield 11 fitted with a Lotus twin cam. The Lola T70 replica ran in the class for genuine cars at the circuit by agreement of the competitors because the other replicas were of much smaller capacity.
The circuit racing was held on the Saturday with the hillclimb on Sunday—the reverse to the usual arrangement. The circuit had been out of commission for a year, so there were a number of problems with both cars and driving in the morning practice sessions as everyone got back in the groove. There had been some minor changes to the layout including the addition of a chicane which wrongfooted some drivers. A lot of deep and meaningful discussion in English, Japanese and Tagalog took place in the pits.
There were two 8-lap races with some drivers sharing a car and doing a race each. Qualifying is based on a single timed lap, so it is all or nothing.
Some competitors were very serious, others drove quite conservatively. While there was plenty of overtaking, nobody was very aggressive. Local-star Carlos Castaneda (honest!) won the morning race and S class in his VW Beetle from John Camus, Toyota Celica and Hideki Sasaki in another Celica. The BC class was headed by Louie Camus, Lola T70 from Mon Sison, Porsche 911. Class D went to Osamu Hasegawa, Alfa Romeo Giulietta from Hiroaki Okamoto, Bellett and class E went to Martin Galan, MGB from Sandy Coronel, Fiat 124 Spider.
by John Murn & Masayoshi Oka