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SEPTEMBER 21 in Baguio City, the sun is about to set and Iñigo Anton has just completed his online prelims exam for the 1 st semester. This 18 –year-old college freshman is taking up International Hotel and Business Operations, and hopes to help run the chain of restaurants that the family owns in Baguio City. Iñigo has always been at the top of his class since he was young. He graduated valedictorian in high school and he takes his studies very seriously. After a demanding week of reviewing for the exams and completing school requirements, Inigo’s busy week is just about to start.
At 6PM PM, Iñigo logs in another Zoom session, this time for a one-hour workout with his fitness coach. Daily cardio and strength training has been a way of life for Iñigo. You see, Iñigo is not only an A –student, he also happens to be the youngest professional car racing champion in the Philippines.
My husband, his father, Carlos Anton, is one of the legendary names in Philippine Motorsports.
Carlos’ career has spanned 33 years and he continues to win races in the tracks. He is a multi-titled racer and has won nearly 30 national championships. Just recently, Carlos emerged winner in an Endurance circuit race where he was teamed up with his son Iñigo, and race mentor, Mike Potenciano. Carlos taught Iñigo how to drive cars in the race track when the boy was just 7 years old. It’s really quite mind boggling to think that Iñigo is now celebrating his 10th year anniversary in racing. Yes. The young protégé has been joining and winning in car racing since he was 8 years old.
At 7PM, Iñigo, who by now is drenched in sweat, hits the shower and grabs a quick dinner because he has official practice in preparation for the live E1 Championship at 9PM. The E1 Championship is the Premier Sim Racing Championship in Asia Pacific organized by former F1 driver Alex Yoong of Malaysia. Iñigo got into virtual or sim (short for simulator) racing during the start of the pandemic. With the absence of real racing because of the lockdowns, Iñigo made sim racing his outlet for his need for speed. The real racer was quick to adapt to virtual racing and his talent didn’t go unnoticed. After emerging as champion in several national and regional online competitions where he beat professional sim racers, Iñigo was picked up by Alex Yoong to join his team, Axle Sports, in the 24 Hours of Lemans Virtual. This is the world’s premiere endurance Esports championship where the likes of F1 World champion Max Verstappen and other real life and esports superstars were joining. Iñigo was the lone Filipino in the race and together with Axle Sports, they emerged top 4 in the world, beating Max Verstappen’s Alpine team, including some of the biggest sim racers and elite auto racing teams such as Red Bull Racing, Porsche Motorsport, Ferrari E sports team and Williams E sports- to name a few.
At exactly 9PM, the E1 Championship is being broadcast live on Facebook and streamed on several YouTube channels. Friends, family and supporters of Iñigo are all glued to their gadgets to support the “Fast Filipino”, as he is called by E1 commentators, Daniel Woodroof and Dez Corkhill. The 1 st race goes underway and Iñigo manages a strong 4 th finish, right behind Williams Esport pro driver Jack Keithley. Race 2, which was a 30-minute reverse grid race, saw several collisions and racing incidents but Iñigo was still able to score points and quite happy with 6th place. This time he crosses the finish line right in front of Jack Keithley.
As soon as the E1 live broadcast ends at 11PM, Iñigo has a race debrief with his team then he joins his parents and younger brother, Alonzo, who are now gathered in front of their home altar. Carlos leads the prayer and gives thanks to the Lord for the successful race of Iñigo. He also prays for safety during their travels and for the protection of everyone from the approaching storm that’s bound to hit Luzon on the weekend after giving each other goodnight kisses, Iñigo gives Alonzo a tight hug and reminds his little brother to be a good boy while Kuya (older brother) and daddy are gone. Mommy Karen, gives Iñigo good luck kisses on the cheek and tells her eldest son be safe and to keep on praying. Alonzo rushes to the living room where he would stand by the window to wave goodbye to his dad and kuya. It’s approaching midnight and with a Redbull on hand, Carlos and Iñigo embark on a 6-hour drive to Batangas. It’s another race weekend for the racing duo.
September 22, 7:30 AM- Iñigo wakes up with the sound of his phone alarm. He sets up his laptop and portable Wi-Fi in the hotel they are staying in. He gets ready to join his 8 AM online class while Carlos prepares all the racing gear and packs their cooler with sandwiches and cold drinks. At 9:30, they head to Batangas Racing Circuit for a whole day of race practice.
At the tracks, two different cars are being prepped for Inigo’s practice- one is a Honda Ek and the other is a Radical SR1. Iñigo is currently leading in the championship standing in the two fastest car racing series in the country, which are the Philippine Grand Touring Car Championships (PGTC) and Philippine Radical Challenge. The 2two-race series are both happening in the weekend which makes it extra challenging for the young racer. After doing several laps in the Honda Civic touring car, Iñigo jumps into the open cockpit Radical SR 1, but, adaptability has always been one of the strengths of Iñigo as racer. It is apparent that he takes after his dad who has won championships in almost all disciplines of auto racing- slalom, karting, gymkhana, circuit, hill climb, endurance and rally.
Car racing has always been perceived as an elitist sport. One must be able to “afford to race” even before skill and talent is considered. Luckily for Iñigo, his father’s long term sponsors have witnessed his journey as a racer and did not think twice in giving him the same support they give his father. Iñigo and Carlos have been fully sponsored by the Mark Young Racing Team, Yokohama Philippines and Parts Pro for the past 15 years and they emerged victorious as a team in all of the race series they have ever competed in. Inigo’s undeniable talent and huge following in social media also got the attention of some big companies. Iñigo landed a fully sponsored ride for the past 2 years from Oben Group’s Executive Vice President Cosco Oben in the TGR Vios Cup Series. In addition, CEO of Motul Inifiniteserv Int’l, Charlie Ong, has also given Iñigo a fully sponsored race season in the Radical Cars Challenge 2022. Carlos knows that sponsorship opportunities in car racing is few and far between that is why he always wants to repay the generosity of their sponsors by preparing Iñigo to be at his best during the races. Just like any competition, the Antons know that PREPARATION AND PRACTICE IS KEY TO SUCCESS. For the next 2 days, Inigo’s team of skillful mechanics and brilliant race engineers are busy prepping and adjusting their race cars to the conditions of the track. With stop watch on hand, Carlos stands by the pit wall, making sure that he gets the time his son posts in every sector of the track. There are still a lot of adjustments to be done on and off the track which means non-stop testing and practice for Iñigo in between attending online classes with his university.
September 25 at 7 AM, Iñigo and the other racers have arrived in the Batangas Racing Circuit. Dark clouds loom over the race track and everyone is well aware that Typhoon Noru is fast approaching and is expected to make landfall in a few hours. The track is now open for qualifying for the PGTC race cars. Iñigo does practice in his touring car and at 7:50 AM, he switches to the Radical SR1 car, with top speed of over 200KPH. This was going to be the same scenario during the actual races- Iñigo will have to go back and forth from the Honda EK to the radical SR1 a number of times. When asked how he felt about the added challenge he had to go through, he says with a smile, “I’m just really happy to be racing. This is my dream.” The bad weather conditions made it quite nerve-wracking for all the racers. With `10 years of experience under his belt and having a “rain master” as a coach, Iñigo is able to take control of his racer cars in the very wet conditions and pushes them to safe limits. With hard work, preparation and a lot of guidance from his father, Iñigo continues his winning streak in the PGTC races and clinches the overall championship title with one more leg to go. He also manages to secure two 1 st place trophies and 1 runner-up trophy in the Radical Challenge.
Right after the awarding ceremonies at 5PM, with the Typhoon Noru gaining strength, Carlos and Iñigo hurriedly pack their gear so they can home to Baguio where little Alonzo and Mommy Karen are praying intently for a safe journey for their champions. After quite a lengthy and treacherous drive up to Baguio through the storm, the 2 racing champs make it back home before midnight, still beaming with gratitude for another successful and safe race weekend. After a goodnight’s rest, both Carlos and Iñigo are again ready to bravely face another grueling but exciting week in A RACE CHAMPION’S LIFE.