Nothing quite prepares you for fatherhood. Defined as the state of having and caring for a child, the term has been interpreted by different people in different ways over the years. Depending on your social background, a father can be a provider, a role model, or an inspiration to his children and family. He can also be the strict, uncompromising disciplinarian who, behind the stiff upper lip, has a heart of gold.
Indeed fathers can be a myriad of things to a myriad of people. But can they still be themselves?
When a man is thrust into having to raise a child, his whole world is transformed. Suddenly, night outs become rare, expenses become more scrutinized, and interests become sidelined. All in the name of raising his children in the best possible manner.
But are these really necessary consequences of fatherhood? As we celebrate Father’s Day today, let us look into the lives of some car enthusiasts who have made a name for themselves with their involvement in cars even before their children were born.
Once a racer, always a racer
For some, loving cars also means loving to drive the socks off them. Don Pastor, brother to the late Enzo who himself had a promising international racing career, says fatherhood has actually made him “1000% more enthusiastic” about racing.
“Having kids who share the same passion as mine makes racing more engaging than it has ever been,” claims Don. “I find myself more at the race track not only for myself like before, but for new enthusiasts, students and returning students, along with teaching my kids and assisting my sons at the race track, managing race teams, and finding ways to better motorsports in the Philippines.” He adds, “My understanding of racing and cars today has expanded way more than what it has ever been when I was single.”
At 35 years of age, Don has matured not only as a race driver, but also as a father as new considerations supersede his passion for racing. “Now I have to have the will to find an economic balance to sustain my racing expenses for myself and my family. To be able to balance my business versus my expenses.”
Despite his growing responsibilities as a father, Don has built enough of a reputation as a professional driver to be able to continue racing while being a doting dad to his boys. “I think racing and cars are the ones consuming my time. I’m actually looking for time to do normal things like errands, vacations, and other businesses. I guess at my level and after what I have achieved, racing finds me,” he opines.
It is Don’s committed attitude towards the sport that has allowed him to remain at this level. A level that can provide for his family’s needs and aspirations. “I just do my best 100% at a time. Each time I get a chance to drive, I never hold back. I never hold back on or off the track and I guess the universe somehow aligns with what you want to happen.”
With the continuing support of his wife Edna, Don has modest dreams for his three boys who are now being immersed into the hectic world of motorsports. “I want them to be able to find their own signature drive or forte in racing and to be respected in the entire racing community,” wishes Don.
As a father with a piece of advice to future dads though, he remains quite a realist nonetheless. “Don’t force your kids into racing. Let it come to them. Just make sure you’ll be able to afford it. It’s no joke! But it’s all worth it when you see tiny versions of you doing what you love.” And for many, perhaps that is the greatest reward fatherhood might just bring.
Quintessential car guy
If there is any common characteristic of car guys is that they just cannot seem to leave a car untouched by mods. Take JJ Cordero, a 45-year old banker. He has been into anything with wheels since he was a kid. JJ started racing remote control cars and bikes until his passion for fixing up cars began as he turned 15.
“I can’t leave any car alone,” shares JJ. “ I will put at least aftermarket wheels on them. I would spend weekends just cleaning or looking for some project to do to the car no matter how small.” Like many car enthusiasts, JJ spent a vast amount of time “perfecting” his cars during his day. And his cars were, and are, just that – immaculate and clean while at the same time fashionably sporty.
So you can imagine then that when his first child was born, he would divert his attention to them. Well, yes and no. “Now, my interest in cars is maybe at 90% from back in the day,” reveals JJ. “I’m still very much into them, but my time and attention is now very much divided during weekends. There are always some daddy duties that have to be done on weekends. But I’m still thinking about cars.”
Now with two teenage boys, JJ continues to keep his passion for four wheels alive. “Family comes first. Priorities really change once you start a family. This includes the cars you buy, your time and even your finances. But you should still sneak in a little something now and then for your car interests.” He adds, I don’t modify my cars as much. As I have gotten older, even my taste in modifications and the way my cars look have “matured”. I do more research and have a “less is more” attitude with choosing how to fix up my cars. Patience is key!”
And with the loving support of his wife, Tin, JJ has managed to continue enjoying his love for cars. “I’m very lucky that my wife has never had any issues with my passion for cars, except maybe when I ask her not to eat in them,” he jests.
As he continues to work hard to secure his children’s health and happiness, JJ has learned how to share his passion with his family. “You don’t have to lose the passion for cars. Just prioritize you time and efforts. Try enjoying your passion with your children. One of the best things for a father is to share a passion for the same interest with the children. That would be the best of both worlds. Not to mention perfect weekends!”
When your passion is your business
The story of Autoline Motorsports’ Alex Ong’s love for cars is not so different from many other car enthusiasts. Except that he made a thriving business out of his passion.
As the owner of an award-winning car accessories and service shop credited with many of the craziest custom car creations in car shows over the years, Ong (shown in main photo) credits his business success to having nurtured his passion for cars at a very young age.
“During my younger teen days, I would personally clean, maintain, upgrade and customize my car to the point that it was okay to work hard and save money as long as I could buy the parts and accessories for my car,” says Alex.
“Way back when I was still single, there was time for planning, customizing and upgrading personal cars,” recalls Alex. “Being single back in the ‘90s, there was time to be at Greenhills Creekside car park on saturday nights. Then in the early morning hours, watch drag races at Lagro, Fairview, White Plains, Ortigas Avenue and even Libis during the early 2000s.”
As a working student with a thrifty father, Alex learned the value of money early on. “By the time I was 17, my motto was ‘nothing is free in this world’,” he professes. “You have to work hard for everything which is why I went into the car parts and accessories and service business.”
As the business continued to thrive through the years however, Alex would eventually realize that things would change once he decided to have a family. “Vehicle and upgrade budget along with time, were the biggest factors affected,” he shares. “Being a responsible father meant spending more time with my kids and family.”
“My wife used to tell her close friends that with me as a husband, jealousy is not about other ladies. Nor is it the typical womanizing husband story. It is about my abnormal passion for cars and the customized vehicles which can only be used by me,” Alex teases.
He fondly recalls, “One time, my wife made me sleep in our shop garage and told me if I didn’t stop my “kabaliwan”, I would not be able to come home. Believe me, I never stopped.”
Even his daughter had something to say about his mad passion for automobiles. “My daughter once asked me why we could not have a normal vehicle – not lowered, not lifted, just a normal one. I failed to answer her question because what is not normal to stock car owners has become normal to me.”
Fortunately for Alex, his passion is his business. And this he credits as his advantage over other shops. “Not all shops have owners passionately working on their customer’s cars,” he claims. The success of his shop lets him be the provider to his family as he also watches his kids succeed in life.
Alex continues to wish that his four children, like him, will dream big, educate themselves, work hard, and keep faith in God. He proclaims, ”Nothing beats hard work and perseverance and without our Lord God’s guidance, there is no meaning to life.”
Perhaps fatherhood has not only transformed how Alex handles his time and resources, but also the way his outlook in life as he advises car enthusiasts who will be future fathers. “Keep the faith and do what makes you happy with due diligence and while spending within your means. And love your family as they are the ones who will be beside you on your last days.”
He adds, “Sometimes just appreciating the car you have and drive makes you a happier and satisfied person. Don’t compare yourself to other people with fancy cars. We all have our own journey in life.”
Three fathers, three stories, three different ways to continue expressing one’s passion for cars. While fatherhood brings with it new responsibilities like time and resource management, it is one’s commitment to his new role that will determine his success in balancing what he once was with what he has to be.
In the end, it is all just part of growing up.
Motoring and motorsports are two of Mikko’s greatest passions. Combining more than twenty years of professional automotive photography and videography experience with years of touring car racing competition, and a deep understanding of the car industry, from both the manufacturers’ and consumers’ points of view, have given him a unique and insightful perspective in the motoring beat.