Ever since I was introduced by my father, Janferds Balois, into the world of motorsports as early as 14 years old, one of my dreams is to drive a racecar, a Toyota to be exact. As a diehard fan of the anime Initial D and the Toyota AE86 driven by the protagonist Takumi Fujiwara, it was my boyhood quest to be like him too.
It all started when I was 12 years old when my Dad bought me a Toyota Corsa EL31 which really looks like a baby AE86 in a hatch body. Back then, I couldn’t drive it legally on the road, so my dad, who restores automobiles in his small home-based repair shop at home, decided to put me into go-karting as a prelude to motorsports.
I also remember back in January 2016, my dad brought me to Circuit Makati to get me a pair of rubber shoes, since he wants me to go back to summer basketball training camp. Little did I know that he will also let me try to drive a Go-Kart at City Kart Racetrack in Makati as his surprise to me. Equally surprising is the fact that for my first time ever to try go-karting, I registered the 3rd fastest time for the day. As a result, he immediately entered me in the Sodi World Race to France Series event in the following weekend. I was able to finish in 3rd on my first official competition. Soon after, I was also able to aim for a mostly 3rd and then a couple of 1st and 2nd places as a novice karter. My dad then surprised me again by bringing me to a special Toyota Vios Cup presentation at Toyota Alabang where adults and kids like me got to witness and see a real Vios Cup racecar. The event, which was held in February 2016, after turning 14 years old, was a penultimate for me that there might be a possibility that I might race in a Toyota soon.
In that Toyota Alabang Vios Cup presentation event, I got to meet coach JP Tuason who is spoken about the forthcoming Vios Cup. He, of course, presented the Toyota Vios race car and the Tuason Racing School (TRS). On that day too, I had a photo opportunity with then-champion Andres Calma along with an opportunity to seat in his real race car. In that same month, my dad enrolled me to be one of the youngest TRS racing students in Clark International Speedway.
After the initial briefing, the instructors there first required me to show to them if I can really drive, no thanks to what I probably assume is my little-framed body. Fortunately, after a few minutes of off-track test driving the Vios One Make Race (OMR) car, an instructor named Dollan Briones, a great and understanding TRS coach, allowed me to join the rest of the day’s training. After several lectures, and track exercises with the 2016 model Vios TRD-enhanced race car, with routines such as slalom, threshold braking, and actual parade speed laps in full-track, I received my training certificate as the youngest TRS graduate at age 14 in my Circuit Batch.
Then in 2018, I became an assistant video cameraman and photographer to my dad who is a freelance journalist covering the yearly Vios Cup competitions. Around 2018, my dad and I were officially included in the roster of journalists and as motorsports media correspondent for Go Flat Out. With our Editor-In-Chief Isaac Atienza, I was taught the basics of writing and photography, which I got to practice whenever we attended various events in the automotive industry.
Fast forward to 2019, Toyota Motor Philippines rebranded the annual Toyota Vios Cup into the Vios Racing Festival where a new sub-event call Autocross Challenge has been included, allowing media practitioners and Vios car club members to participate. Along with my dad, we represented Go Flat Out in the Vios Autocross Challenge, wherein selected media participants competed in a gymkhana and slalom-like course. Racers who clocked the fastest time (with of course the least demerits) wins the race.
Luckily, during in the 1st leg of the Vios Racing Festival at the SM Mall of Asia concert grounds last April 2019, I was able to secure 1st runner up with a time of 1:15.00–an excellent start for my pursuit of fulfilling a dream. AutoIndustriya.com’s Jose Altoveros emerged as the champion with a time of 1:12.63 in the finals, while veteran driver Eggay Quesada from Autocar finished third, who posted a time of 1:17.34. From there on, every round proved to be a challenge to me, but that won’t stop me from continuing to pursue my dream of competing in the Toyota Vios Racing Festival.
One thing’s for sure, though. The Toyota Vios Racing Festival gave me a lot of lessons. The event made me grateful for the hard work, faith, and teamwork that’s necessary to fulfill one’s dream. Hard work took me into this type of Sport. As a kid and as a son of an automotive restoration shop owner, I was exposed at an early age to the intricacies of automotive repairs and rebuilds. I realized that building a car, especially if it’s for motorsports, is costly and requires a whole lot of logistics.
As Toyota Motor Philippines (TMP) is promoting its “Start Your Impossible” advocacy, the 3 years of waiting to finally race in the Vios Racing Festival has definitely been worth the hard work. Had I lost faith immediately when I failed to compete in 2016 due to deficiency in money and resources, I would have shied right away from motorsports. I could have returned to basketball, but by faithfully supporting and covering several years of the Vios Cup races, and with much encouragement and support from my Editor-in-Chief to participate in the new format of the Vios Racing Festival, I was able to overcome what might be impossible to others. The positive attitude I learned from my superiors in our media outfit as well as the rest of the motoring community not only helped me improve my skills in covering events, but it opened the door for me to finally officially do what I love most which, is being able to race at a young age.
As a member of the motoring media, racing a Vios OMR gave me plenty of insights and knowledge on the car’s capability and what the car can do in the racetrack. As both a young journalist and a full-time auto mechanic in one, competing with the Vios OMR proved to me that the Vios is more than just a car for taxi operations and transportation network vehicle services (TNVS). Contrary to popular belief, the Vios is able to stand the rigorous requirements of a track car, of course with the proper safety gear and modifications.
Additionally, racing against your skills during every round of the Vios Autocross Challenge improved my capability to handle the car well, learning the proper shifting techniques and how to handle tight, difficult corners with finesse, which could very well help me when given the opportunity to race in the Vios Circuit Challenge in the future.
I’m just 17 years old, probably the youngest entry in the Media Class, and I’m not in a hurry to be a Champion soon, but I would always be glad to be invited again and participate in the 2020 Toyota Vios Racing Festival. In closing, I congratulate the organizers of this event, especially TMP and TRS. This event paved the way for grassroots-based participants like me to develop and hone my skills in the sport that I love the most.