'Iñigo is already making waves in the local slalom scene with his EF Civic'
Anybody who has followed Philippine motorsports over the last two decades knows that Carlos Anton is a force to be reckoned with. The lowdown: He’s a multi-awarded racer in various racing disciplines, ranging from slalom to touring cars. I know him as my teammate in 2004, as participants in the first-ever Marlboro Red Racing School in Italy, and I can attest to the skills and the speed that the man has.
So, when Paulo sent me on assignment to meet up with Carlos and his 12-year-old son Iñigo, I knew it was a good opportunity to check up on my old friend and see what the Antons were up to. As it turns out, we’re headed to the new Tarlac Circuit Hill to document Iñigo’s first attempt at setting a new lap record. Iñigo started logging in track hours in an EG Honda Civic at the age of eight. He jumped to karting when he was 10, and spent the next two years honing his skills. This effort earned him the Cadet Karter of the Year Award for 2016. He’s now back to driving cars, and I’m excited to see just how much alike father and son are.
Tarlac Circuit Hill is a new 1.5km racetrack that’s part of the Tarlac Recreational Park in the town of San Jose. It’s primarily designed for karts and motorcycles, but it’s also known for hosting time-trial events for larger automobiles. On this bright, sunny day we have the track to ourselves. It’s pretty safe, but that doesn’t stop Carlos from making sure his son and the team have taken all the necessary precautions for a safe drive.
I ask Carlos how the idea of Iñigo setting a new lap record at Tarlac Circuit Hill came about. As it stands, Carlos is the lap record holder for both the Batangas Racing Circuit and the Clark International Speedway. He says that after hearing about the newly constructed Tarlac racetrack, “I felt that with the current skill set of Iñigo, he could be good enough to take that record with the proper preparation and training.” The current record stands at 1min 15.7sec, and is held by an unnamed driver. It was posted about a year ago during one of the track days at the venue.
After final checks and a quick prayer, Iñigo is off to prepare for his hot lap with a few warmup rounds. I set myself up inside the track to get photos up close, and from where I stand, I can see how progressively faster he’s getting. And the timers don’t lie, either. On his prep laps, he’s already doing 1min 14sec laps, which quickly go down to mid- and low 13’s. After signaling to his Dad that he’s going to gun it, Iñigo sets the new Tarlac Circuit Hill lap record on his sixth lap. Data from the MyChron4 Race GPS puts his record-breaking effort at 1min 12.33sec, a good 3sec off the standing record.
The Antons call it a day, and it’s clear that there’s pride and satisfaction in the faces of both father and son. Iñigo now has a friendly invite to any driver out there who’s willing and able, to try and do a better lap time at Tarlac Circuit Hill. Two years ago, we featured Iñigo when he was still running the Touge Battle and Flat Out Race Series with his B18-equipped EG Honda Civic. For this lap-record attempt, he’s driving a different steed. Mark Young Racing has prepared a Mohspeed-tuned, B20-equipped EF Honda Civic cranking out 197hp, with a Type R transmission and LSD, riding on BC coilovers and Advan tires. It’s not the prettiest race car out there, but in the hands of Iñigo, the ugly little VTEC duckling magically turned into a speed swan of fury. It’s quite evident that the two years he spent racing in karts has helped him mature as a racer and truly elevated his skills.
But what’s great is that I never get the feeling that any of this has gone into his head. Talking to him, you’ll quickly realize he’s just like any other 12-year-old—heavily into gadgets, looking up stand-up comedy videos on YouTube, and playing with his game console. It needs to be said, though, that his game console is a race simulator complete with Logitech goodies and running Gran Turismo and Project Cars. Wait until he turns 18, GT Academy, because Iñigo has his eyes set on Formula 1, and major-league circuit racing is definitely on the roadmap.
As for the lessons he has learned along the way, he mentions that karting has taught him to “never give up till the last lap, but also accept defeat.” Dad Carlos has taught him, too, that “it’s okay to lose, and never forget to pray before, during and after a race.” The kid knows his blessings and has his head on straight. He is able to stay grounded despite being faster than guys twice his age. He knows that there are both good days and bad days in racing, but at the end of any of those, he’s just thankful and happy for what he has and for the amazing support he gets from his family.
As of this writing, Iñigo is already making waves in the local slalom scene with his EF Civic, having won three out of the four rounds of the current Phoenix Petroleum National Slalom Series. He’s grown so comfortable with the speed, the skills, and his own machine that he’s actually poised to outperform his Dad in the near future. This was evident in the third round of the series, when he was just a second off Carlos’s own time. All he needs to do now is to stay his course, become better with age, and never forget the lessons he’s learning along the way. Racing aficionados can show support and enjoy the show, because with kids like Iñigo at the wheel, we can rest assured that the future of Philippine motorsports is in good hands.
Note: The story first appeared in Top Gear PH's July 2017 issue.