One of Philippine racing’s golden boys
As the grandson of Philippine racing legend Pocholo Ramirez and the son of racing veterans Kookie and Menchie, Stefan Ramirez de Arellano has practically lived his entire life on the racing circuit. He was lullabied by the sound of speeding cars and learned an engine’s intricacies while the rest of us were trying to grasp long division.
Having his first go at a race at the tender age of 12 (before any of us even got to sit at the front passenger seat), Stef’s love affair with racing is as long standing as it is passionate. And despite the years that have passed and losing both his Opa and dad, racing has been a comforting constant.
Stef wasn’t a speed junkie growing up—that isn’t how this relationship started. He was more interested in the mechanical side of things; he was curious about engines, how they worked and what made them powerful. It was a happy coincidence that a race car embodied this all and that he had a natural knack for the sport.
But it isn’t just a love for racing and his family name that has kept Stef at the forefront of the local motor sports industry; it’s talent. In a BMW 3, Stef—along with drivers SJ Park, Enrique Hormillo, Jeff Borja, George Apacible and Miguel Dizon, as well as their excellent team of mechanics—won the country’s first ever 12-hour endurance race at the Clark International Speedway, finishing a total of 243 laps earlier this month.
That wasn’t Stef’s first step onto the podium, of course, but he’s not the type to brag.
Contrary to popular belief, Stef explained that racing isn’t a physical game—it’s mental, it’s all about concentration, focusing on the drive and blocking everything else out. And if you can’t imagine yourself focusing on just one thing for three hours at a time (despite the very real possibility of a crash if you don’t), then you might be able to grasp just how right Stef is.
And while this may be the most difficult part of racing, it’s his favorite part, too. There’s a high he gets from dealing with other drivers and figuring out how he can best them. There’s joy in looking at his rearview mirror and strategizing how to stay ahead; there’s a thrill from stepping on the gas until the last possible moment before a turn. But the absolute best part? Sharing the track with his family and being able to take part of that history and having a hand in bringing it forward.
The Philippine racing industry is far from perfect and far from the level of competitiveness that the rest of the world gets excited about. But Stef honestly believes that we’re getting there. “I wish more people loved it so that the sport can gain more support, but I believe we’ll get there,” he said. “It’s already happening.”
Now I don’t know a lot about cars and how they run or what makes them fast, but I do know Stef. And if the years I’ve known him have proven anything to me, it’s that he knows what he’s talking about. So if he says the gears are running, then the gears are running and we’re all in for a good time.
Stef’s currently taking part in the V1 racing series spearheaded by Tuason Racing School. Aiming to give local drivers the experience and support they need to compete in the international racing circuit, V1 is all about showing some love. So why don’t you? The next leg kicks off on August 10th.
Art Alexandra Lara