My name is Toni Tsuyoshi Arakaki. Some may know me simply as “Half Breeds,” a half-Filipino, half-Japanese drifter based in Okinawa, Japan. I learned how to drift around 10 years ago under the guidance of ex-D1 driver, Michiya Koboribata. At first, I just drifted for fun and competed in a handful local tournaments here in Japan. But like most of the drifters back then, I also had a dream to make it big into the drift scene, and this is my story of how I chased after my dream.
Words and video by Jade Lu | Photos by Christopher Kho
A lot of people have dreams of becoming race car drivers, some being more serious than others. But what some people don't realize is, just like keeping machines running in top shape, on-track performance also relies on the driver's physical fitness. After all, race car drivers are athletes no different from tennis players or runners; they need to be in excellent physical shape to perform well. So when we heard Irish Formula 3 driver Gary Thompson of KCMG was in town, we took the opportunity to ask him some questions about physical fitness and how it correlates to racing and driving.
Over 100 cars lined-up on the strip last March 17, 2012 at the Clark International Speedway (CIS) to take on Emperor Motorsports and Speedlab's 0 - 400 Challenge. And with the cue to the drag's staging lights stretching as long as the drag race itself, all the competitors really had to get everything right to be the fastest on the quarter mile. While on the other side of the track, Car Porn Racing was also burning up some rubber as their cars went sideways at Drift Fest.
We had a quick chat with rising Irish race car driver Gary Thompson last June while he was on a break from his Formula 3 season. Now that the championship's over and he's back in the Philippines for a short stay, we caught up with Gary once more to find out how his season shaped up and what's in store next for the future Formula 1 star.
All-Japan Formula 3 season round up
The 2011 Japanese Formula 3 season was composed of 16 rounds spread over seven race weekends. But due to the devastating 8.9 magnitude earthquake that hit in March, the race calendar had to be delayed. Add to that the cancellation of the Rounds 12 and 13 in Suzuka due to a Typhoon. “We had a good year. All year we've been very quick. Maybe lacking a small bit of qualifying pace in comparison to race pace and that made the race difficult. In F3 it is hard to overtake. We've had an uphill struggle all year. We've managed to win some races, a lot of podiums, overall it's a good year,” commented Gary.
Even before he was old enough to get a driver's license, Gary Thompson was already busy racking up the victories on the race track. The young Irishman practically grew up in the circuits around the world - racing in go karts, Formula BMW, and more recently in the Japanese Formula 3 series. With a natural talent for speed and a dedicated team behind him, Gary surely has his sights fixed on Formula One to join the ranks of fellow countrymen Ralph Firman Jr. and Eddie Irvine.
My heart sank when Car Awards Group Inc. (CAGI) corporate secretary Atty. Robby Consunji told me that Jose “Pocholo” Ramirez, otherwise known as Tito Poch to his friends and family, had succumbed to cancer. It was the end of his four-year battle with the disease. Everybody loved him. He was a good person; a humble and true gentleman. I used to bump into him during motoring events and I would tap him on his shoulder. He would smile at me and tap my arms in return. You could feel his sincerity even in small gestures like that.
Tito Poch grew up in Manila during World War II. He learned how to drive using borrowed jeeps from American soldiers who passed by their house along Taft Avenue. After working as an hotelier at the Waldorf Astoria in New York, he went back to Manila in the '60s. Tito Poch told Arsenio “Dodjie” Laurel (a two-time Macau Grand Prix winner) that he wanted to try go-karts. Dodjie gladly lent him one. His passion for racing began there and the hobby soon turned into a living. He won in races such as slaloms, rallies, and circuit races. The man was a natural.