Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Summer to-do’s

It’s summertime, and that means a flurry of activities for motoring enthusiasts, gear heads and car aficionados. Best to get out and face the heat head-on rather than be cooped up inside an air-conditioned room like me, getting an allergic reaction from pollen and staying cool, as I write this column. I’m reflecting on things I’d like to do, wish I had the time and money to do, and had the strength to do.

The recently concluded, and should I add best organized yet, Manila International Auto Show was a blast, but that major motoring event kicks off the summer series of smaller car shows in and around the country, targeting specific market demographics and more specialized audiences at destinations nearer you. I always try to go to these smaller car shows whenever possible because it is an opportunity to see enthusiasts at the grass-roots level, real people who save up time and money to build their sweet rides, rather than the usual check-book tuners who just keep buying and buying the best, most  expensive and most exotic cars and car parts, but usually fail to understand the value of building a proper tuner/track/show car: taking one’s time means getting to know fully the quirks, limitations, strengths and weaknesses of the platform you’re building on. Shame. Money should help you as an enthusiast, but should not be a limitation to fulfilling your dream, or more importantly, acquiring and/or building up your dream cars. Keep driving, keep maintaining, and just as important, keep tuning!

Aside from organized car shows, summer is also the start of racing season for a lot of motorsports series. The GT Races and Circuit Showdown are two of the more popular races with a good mix of old hands and new faces sporting fresh machinery. And with the big names like Coseteng and Marcelo back in the racing business, plus with more people entering, the local motorsports scene is sure to get healthier once again.

Aside from organized motorsports events, car clubs are also jamming more and more activities such as car meets and EB get-togethers, fun-runs and trackdays. I greatly encourage people to go out and support their local car clubs, be part of the activities and get busy. Getting active with your car club is a great way to meet new people, increase your knowledge, find rare parts, get excellent technical know-how and be a better driver.

Of course, car washes, car detailing shops and tuning houses are also busier this summer as more and more people gear up to prep their cars for the following summer activities. And in my experiences, summer is a great time to build and test a car because the heat is a factor that can bring out the very worst in a car. If your built/tuner car can take the sizzling summer heat while being driven hard, i.e., no overheating, elevated coolant, oil, intake air and exhaust gas temps or even transmission temps (for automatic transmission equipped cars), then your car is pretty solid indeed!

And since there’s not much rain (if at all), it’s a perfect time to get your car repainted, detailed or just plain washed and waxed, to show off the shiny gloss finish at the car park with the rest of the guys admiring your car, be it at an impromptu meet, or a regular car club get-together.  There are few things more satisfying than getting a compliment that your car looks pretty tight, slick and neat from your peers.

Of course, summer also means road trips. Have you ever gone on a road trip that entailed more than 12 hours of driving in one day? If you haven’t, you should. We have so many beautiful destinations to go to that can be reached by land. CamSur and the rest of the Bicol Region down south, Sagada, Banawe and Pagudpud up North, and Quezon Province down the southeast. Staring at the Pacific Ocean for the first time in my life was a breathtaking and most satisfying experience. Driving is freedom, freedom to see our country’s beautiful landscape and natural resources. All you need is some seat time with Google on the Internet for some research, a GPS (most Apple/Mac products and Android phones have a GPS application, or you can buy a Garmin or from AVT a proper GPS device) and a reliable, well-maintained car, preferably an SUV or pick-up if you’ll be going down the road less traveled, or at least an MPV like Kia’s Carens, Chevrolet’s Orlando or Toyota’s Innova. Why? Like a good meal, it’s the company that makes any road trip memorable so the more, the merrier!

Don’t just stay and rot at home this summer. Get out and get busy!

Summer to do

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