Finally, GAB recognition for motocross

THE GAME OF MY LIFE - Bill Velasco (The Philippine Star) - September 16, 2013 - 12:00am

BAROTAC NUEVO, Iloilo – For the first time, the Games and Amusements Board has recognized a professional motocross organization in the Philippines. The government’s regulatory body for professional sports is hoping this breakthrough will provide impetus for the uniformity of standards and the unification of the sport in the Philippines. For the past years, GAB has been trying to bring independent race organizers and federations under its wing to maintain high standards and protect riders.

Board member and PBA legend Fritz Gaston and GAB Bacolod representative Vic Jochico traveled to this municipality to observe the organization and safety standards of the Kopiko Astig 3-in-One Supercross Series here and ascertain the high standards of conduct of the event, and announce the recognition. This leg was made even more eventful with the support of Mayor Hernan D. Biron Sr., his wife Dra. Dianne Biron and family, who provided the Brodit track, venue for the races. The good local chief executive and his son, Rep. Hernan Biron Jr., personally attended the opening day Saturday to make sure everything went well.

“As always, we want to make it as safe and fun as possible for everyone,” declared Jonas Adlawan, president of the organizing Man & Machine Racing Promotions. “That is our utmost priority.”

Prior to the event, Man & Machine had already forwarded all its pertinent documents, rules of the sport and organizational chart to the GAB, which held a board meeting specifically to tackle the company’s recognition. Man & Machine has put together a well-run series in a different venue each month, building the tracks for the locals to eventually use when the two-day race is done. The Kopiko Supercross Series is already the largest and so far, only nationwide motorcycling event in the country. After little deliberation, GAB unanimously voted to recognize Man & Machine. Last Thursday, the GAB Board signed and released the recognition papers of Man & Machine.

“I am impressed with the way the event is organized,” said Gaston at the races. “The races are exciting, safety is well taken care of, and the manpower and resources behind Kopiko and Man & Machine are quite substantial. We hope this takes the sport to the next level. This will be your legacy.”

“Everything is done well, the sponsor is very supportive, and the local government is passionate about helping,” added Jochico. “What else will you look for?”

As part of its regular protocol, the GAB sends observers to all professional sporting events in the country to ensure safety, fairness and high standards. They supervise professional sports like basketball, horse racing, boxing and others. The new addition will entail all pro riders to obtain licenses from GAB annually, and all pertinent personnel, down to the venue announcers, to be briefed and licensed by GAB. It sounds like a major expense, but in actuality, the fees are very reasonable. GAB personnel will also be onsite at all races, and will send reports to the head office in Makati.

The past few years have not been kind to motor sports, particularly motocross. The ban on cigarette advertising almost a decade ago deprived the sport of its main backer Camel, and the sport fell into disarray. A few intrepid sponsors tried but had difficulty sustaining races because of the large transport expense involved. In November of last year, Kopiko and Adlawan came to an agreement on what was needed to revive the sport. The leader in instant coffee generously agreed to support the series.

Gaston also noticed the unity of the entire motocross community at the regular riders’ night held on the Saturday of each leg.

“There is a lot of respect for one another,” he observed. “You prove yourself in the races, then you all come together like one big family. Even during the races, I noticed the riders gave way to each other to avoid accidents.”

Man & Machine is now hoping to lead the way in the unification of the community, bringing into its fold other local race organizers, who have graciously avoided having their races coincide with Kopiko legs so as to avoid conflict, so far, the series has set records in both attendance and participation, even breaching the 200-rider mark and over 42,000 spectators for one finals.

There are several organizers of motocross races all over the country, but without GAB supervision. This has resulted in problems in safety and security, and at least one death due to negligence and lack of preparedness. Gaston himself was witness to a congressional inquiry on motocross safety issues. Now, with the recognition of GAB, Man & Machine hopes to elevate the standards of the sport even further, provide income for more riders and teams, and eventually catapult a Filipino to the world motocross and supercross stage. Those dreams are now one step closer to becoming reality.

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