MANILA, Philippines - An all-star cast of racers, led by six-time hill-climb champion Carlos Anton and top Formula 3 lady driver Gaby dela Merced, will banner the Philippine team’s campaign in the Nascar Racing Experience (RaceEX) World Circuit in Charlotte, USA.
The team, which includes Stefano Marcelo, a European-trained karting champion, Indy lights-trained Michelle Bumgarner and endurance racer Pia Boren and reserves Mike Potenciano and Formula 3 champion Tyson Sy, had a big send-off at The Fort graced by high-profile sponsors and over 700 fans.
The Filipino drivers will pit their skills and talent against the racers from Team USA, composed of drivers from the Nascar diversity program, which counts championship standouts from the K&N and Whelen series development circuits of Nascar.
The circuit, previously only for sponsors, will be using 865hp full-scale Sprint Cup cars. Singapore will be part of Team Asia, led by the A1 driver Denis Lian and together with Team Europe, will comprise the 15-car lineup.
Team USA is considered the future of Nascar’s international roster. It is led by 2012 Nascar K&N east series rookie of the year Bryan Ortiz, prodigy Daniel Suarez, pole winner Ryan Gifford, former Nascar Nationwide Series veteran Mark Green and Nascar Whelen All-American series top female driver and K&N rookie Mackena Bell.
Marcelo, at 21 the youngest member of Team Phl, has already been endorsed by Paul Monozca of the Spirit program to enter the Nascar Whelen Series next year with the Singapore based Monozca Foundation becoming the first sponsor of a Whelen team from Asia.
The Philippine team will be welcomed by David Crotts of the official Nascar diversity program and Davin Scites, head of the Nascar Whelen All American series late model program of RevRacing.
The Spirit program is also gearing for a Philippine team to the Formula Green Electric Racing Series in Europe, a leading sailing cup and trainees to the Manchester United Soccer School in Singapore and the UK. They have also added scholarships to the program which will see selected Filipino athletes sent to the Raffles - Spirit Sports University in Singapore, co-owned by the Monozca Foundation.
“We are focusing on high-impact and high-viewership global sports to create the inspirational effect for the country – how much does it take to inspire a nation?” said Monozca.
The Spirit program, launched in 2010 and led by Monozca and Jean Henri-Lhuillier, has successfully sent Smart-Gilas and players such as Kevin Alas to play side-by-side NBA and ABA players in the ABA California games in 2010 and junior golfer Ivan Villarosa to the Rolex Invitational in Singapore.
The Spirit program also counts PBA players Jason Castro and Al Vergara who were sent to the Australian pro-league to play for the Singapore team and numerous tennis players to the Davis Cup.