Anthony Baisa is a 36-year old father of four, an entrepreneur, and most recently, a karting race champion who learned the sport just a week before winning a national competition.
It was initially a fun sports idea for his kids. “I had no interest at all before. I thought it was not for me. My wife Jowylyn Baisa got interested in karting for our kids, so we went to Carmona, Cavite last June to try the fun karts there…” said the businessman now also racer, who also revealed that he actually didn’t know there’s already a race track in Palawan.
Anthony’s first competition was last July in the said Cavite town, in the national-level Philippine ROK Karting Series, where he raced for the first time and just a week after he started official training. Despite being the only newbie among 35 other kart racers, he pulled an unexpected win and went home with two trophies.
“I don’t have any cart. I don’t have any experience, I just joined the national race, with zero expectation of winning,” he recalled.
Almost exactly a month after, last August 13, he was racing again, this time in Palawan for the Petron X30 Senior Challenge where he again defied expectations for a new racer and went to bag the gold.
Now the Palaweño businessman turned racer, who manages several shops in Puerto Princesa, has set his eyes on bigger goals: to build a strong karting community in Palawan and to conquer the international racing arena.
Learning to Race
Learning to kart race wasn’t a breeze, of course. For Anthony, at least, it included spending a night in a paddock in the race facility itself, with tires for pillows, lying next to a chassis.
He recalled the first day of official training when he went back to Carmona to learn the sports so he can teach his son Brice Vincent Baisa (8 years old) & eldest daughter Tammy Victoria Baisa (12 years old).
“I wanted to go home already,” he mused, recalling how he wanted to quit after the first few laps. “After the first day of practice, my ribs were really painful. I couldn’t open my hands, they were stuck as if holding the steering wheel. But I had to look after myself. Carmona Cavite is very far, so I tried to get taxis but there was nothing available. There were no hotel or accommodations available either. My wife told me she can book me online at the nearest hotel but I told her I was already so tired, so I was forced to stay in one of the paddocks where I rented the go kart. I slept on the floor just using the tires as my pillows. Beside me was a chassis.”
The physical labors eventually proved fruitful when he went to join and win the national competition, which he entered upon a friend’s suggestion. “In winning nothing hurts anymore. When I stood up in the podium, it was the first time a Palaweño stood there,” he beamed.
Anthony also went to learn why speed is not only name of the game in kart racing. The new champion, who can drive a single lap in the Carmona race circuit in 46 seconds, says the sport is more than just driving fast. “When I was younger and single, I used to drive very fast. My wife used to tell me I belong to car racing. Of course, in professional karting, it is not about driving fast. It is about technical driving. About discipline. Hindi naman ‘yan straight na kalsada eh.”
Palawan’s karting community
Anthony didn’t forget why he wanted to learn kart racing in the first place, of course, and quickly went to pushing for such goal. When he came back to Palawan after winning in Cavite, he has a new mission: he’s going to teach karting to Palaweño kids.
The first thing he learned, however, is that there was no one coaching potential kart racers in Palawan, this despite the province having one of the only four standard race tracks in the country (the other three are found in Carmona (Cavite), Clark (Pampanga), and Batangas.
“Here in Palawan, there is no one coaching. There are karting enthusiasts here. But no one is coaching. There are local racers here. But majority do it just for fun and hobby.
In Carmona, there are kids doing the karting and so I felt confident that my kid can also do it. I saw kids as young as 7 years old, but when they are on the race track, they can compete with a 40-year old racer. So I started coaching my kid and other kids here in Palawan. That made me feel this is a good sport for my kid. Sometimes their parents would ask, is it safe and I tell them, there’s my kid out there. I will not risk my kid if this is not safe. So they felt relieved.”
Anthony’s desire to introduce kart racing to more Palaweño kids has lead him to get in touch with well-seasoned karting experts, whose advice he now used in coaching young racers. “I am getting great advice from the experts in karting here in the Philippines like Michael Jordan and his son Mikey Jordan of Jordan Racing Team and Indy Villalon of AUTS racing team,” he said.
Among his biggest goals is to form race tracks association in the province to convene professionals and enthusiasts. “Compared to other sports in racing, you cannot bring karting out of the race tracks, so we’re more disciplined. We are hoping to be able to form race tracks association here so we could discuss. Be more responsible.”
The young entrepreneur’s calendar is now filled with plans to join other karting competitions.
“We are planning to hold a National and probably an Asian race here in Palawan next year. We are looking forward to winning it because we came from here. We need to train karters here in Palawan. I am hoping to be one of the best karter produced by Palawan, because I came here,” he happily shared.
“This coming October 12 & 13, will be the next round of Petron X30 Karting Competition. I am targeting to have 6 to 10 drivers for my team. All competitive drivers. We are preparing for the international race next year. We would like to be the one, being Palawenos, winning the race.”
“We want to have support, the materials available here in Palawan. We have the home court advantage so we aim to be the champion. He who wants badly to be the champion will be the champion,” Anthony shared.