From just helping out in his father’s garage at fourteen to buying his first AE86, Cyrus Martinez is now a proud holder of a D1 Grand Prix US license. He is the first Filipino driver to achieve this feat and is also the first Filipino driver to actively compete in professional drifting. He visited Manila recently and we at Tuned got to have an exclusive interview with him courtesy of local Megan Racing distributor HART International.
How long have you been into cars?
I’ve been into cars ever since my dad got me working with him when we first moved to the states. I was fourteen then, basically changing tires and helping him out with whatever I could do. It was just a home-based garage for people who wanted to save money. I basically did it to earn some extra cash for myself.
What inspired you to go into drifting?
In 2003, after attending my first drifting event in Irwindale. The winner was Katsuhiro Ueo, who was driving a Toyota AE86. I was into drag racing at that time, but I saw drifting as a different form or art of drifting. It was exciting for the crowd and for the drivers at the same time. That practically got me into drifting. I bought myself a Toyota Corolla AE86 the next day and started watching videos and riding along with friends who were already into drifting at that time.
How long have you been with Megan Racing?
I’ve been with the company for three years, handling marketing, research and development, and product support. Driving was just for the last year and a half, which started when my boss saw a future for me in drifting, he decided to sponsor me.
What’s your impression of the Philippine aftermarket industry?
The local industry has a lot of marketing involved like Motul and Autoplus. At first, when I visited Banawe, it looked so disorganized and I actually thought the Philippines was really far behind. But when I got to visit high profile shops like Autoplus, who are really passionate with their cars. They also have a lot of nice parts from major brands there as well. Which brings me to conclude that the market shows a lot of promise for growth especially with the influences from the Japanese and American markets. Filipinos will always love cars, they love fixing up cars. There’s always new cars coming out and more cars to fix up.
What can you say about the Philippine drift scene?
I’m actually very impressed. I first got to see the videos of Lateral Drift online about two years ago, and I wasn’t expecting much. I was very surprised to see that its gotten far from what it was. The drifts were a lot better, and the cars also improved by influences from drifting in Japan and the States. I also saw that the Filipino drifters are actually stepping up their driving. The drivers want to learn, they want to get to the point of achievement. I’m actually impressed with the skills of the Lateral Drift drivers, especially with the level of competition they have. I’d like to thank Mr. David Feliciano for letting me drive in their series even just with a demo run.
What can you say about the cars here?
There are actually very expensive cars here. I actually had a chance to drive the Motul-Autoplus S13 in Round 2 of the Lateral Drift Championship. I was surprised when I first drove the car, it was very responsive. A lot of horsepower for such a small track, it was really easy to drive. The cars are starting to get put well together.
What about driving in the Manila?
I’ve driven, and its really crazy. Its really hard almost like you’re to crash every time, especially those crazy motorcycle riders who drive like there’s no tomorrow. The taxi drivers here are very good too, they can weave through the tight streets of Manila so easy.
What’s your best achievement so far?
That would be getting my 2009 D1 Grand Prix US license held in Anaheim. Because when I first started, I was actually watching these guys, now I’m actually a part of the action.
What are your future plans?
I’d want to be one of the top drivers for D1. I’m also aiming to get my license for Formula D in 2010. Its really hard to get in because you’re going against some of the best drivers as well. Some of the participants are actually demo drivers and stunt drivers. Not that D1 is easy, because the Japanese drivers are really good also. They started drifting after all. Its not going to be easy but you know the Pinoy way of thinking. Kung kaya nila, kaya ko din yan! (If they can do it, I can also do it!)
Any last words?
Well I’d like to thank Motul and Autoplus for letting me drive their car and for giving me a chance to show the drifting that I had to offer from the States. I’d also like to thank my mom and dad, “I’m here in the Philippines!” And last but not the least to my girlfriend, who regards herself as my number one fan.