For those active in the local motorsports scene in the past three decades, Boy Ochoa was a character whose mere presence at the racetrack elicited a wide array of emotions.
On Friday, Jose V. Ochoa Jr. passed away due to a lingering bout with cancer at the age of 65. Husband to Ruby and father to television actor and car enthusiast Dominic, Boy had been a prominent figure in the local racing scene since the '70s, when he started to compete in local circuit races under Team Zenith.
Racing veteran Georges Ramirez, son of the late great Pocholo Ramirez, recalls having known Boy as a tuner from the early Greenhills Grand Prix era, with a shop along Ortigas Avenue close to Wilson Street. "He was a racer and a car lover from those early circuit days in Greenhills, and with his shop, he knew just about everyone with a gear," Ramirez told TopGear.com.ph. "He was a gregarious person and was friends with just about everyone."
According to Martin Galan, producer of Racing With Legends, Boy Ochoa landed in the public eye with his BRG Lotus twin-cam engine-equipped Mk1 Escort, which he ran in the Greenhills Grand Prix races. "This one is a gem not everyone knows: The first-ever headers made by Nodalo's was because of Boy Ochoa," narrated Galan. "Boy had Mang Vic copy an original set manufactured by Hooker Headers for a Dodge Colt, and the rest is local modding history."
From active circuit racing, Boy also had a profound interest in rallying. According to Galan, Boy was a navigator/co-driver to Nonong Marcos, nephew of President Ferdinand Marcos, in the '80s. "He also participated twice in the Hong Kong-Beijing Rally as he navigated for Rolly 'Kabise' Abadilla in a Peugeot 205," Galan fondly recounted to us.
The lure of motorsports never really left Boy Ochoa's heart as he found himself on the other side of the racing scene as years went by. He became an active figure in the local karting arena, becoming clerk-of-course of the Carmona Racing Circuit and president of the Philippine International Karting Association in the early '90s. This eventually led him to become one of the main figures in the establishment of the Batangas Racing Circuit in 1996.
As one of the race stewards for the races held at BRC, Boy Ochoa was instrumental in keeping order and discipline on the track. His knack for behind-the-scenes work and his firm decision-making earned him respect on and off the circuit. He was also among those who pushed for a more aggressive racing formula, which, despite being unpopular to some camps, continues to this day as the Philippine GT Championship.
In his latter years, Boy Ochoa served as a motorsports consultant of San Miguel Corporation, a position that allowed him to have a say on whom the company should support in order to establish its racing credentials. Multiple "Driver of the Year" awardee and circuit racing champion Jody Coseteng benefited from Ochoa's association with San Miguel. The food and beverage company bankrolled most of his championship-winning seasons.
For those who wish to pay their last respects, Boy Ochoa's cremated remains lie in state at the Capilla de la Virgen in Santuario de San Antonio at Forbes Park in Makati until August 13.
Photo from Jose Dominique Ochoa's Facebook page