In the Tracks of Victory and Legacy

by Vin Yumul

In life there is always this question, how would you like to be remembered? We contemplate on the victory of Kyle Paz at the recently concluded Asian Road Racing Championship held in Buriram, Thailand. A bitter sweet win at that, as the country celebrates the first Filipino racer to ever win the coveted racing title UB150 Champion, we mourn on the passing of Amber Torres, and a catastrophic loss as Amber is one of the top seeded racers in the country. This story is clearly from opposite sides of the spectrum. For years on end the racing community in the Philippines including manufacturers has rallied and campaigned for a podium finish exerting all it takes including, finances from loyal sponsors and the best training from top coaches local and international.

Fate would dictate the glory of two riders on the destined date of the ARRC, December 1, in the serene kingdom of Thailand, a perfect setting for what would be history in the making. Rider #123, Mckinley Kyle Paz of UMA Racing Yamaha Philippines, would emerge as the overall champion in the ARRC UB150 class. Like a soaring eagle Kyle would ascend the podium that so many has aspired for, yet behind the victory every step going up the podium was like a dagger stabbing the heart of Kyle and this also goes for countless supporters of the Yamaha team as looming on the background Amber Torres has suffered a disastrous mishap at Turn 7 on Lap 3 of the Underbone 150cc Race 2. The young rider was immediately attended to by staff of the Chang International Circuit and was brought to the nearest medical center.

As word spread of Kyle’s win, the peril of loss was impending. After all the pleasantries of awarding at the circuit podium 5 days later the inevitable would shock Kyle and the entire nation as on December 5 Amber would succumb to his injuries and the realities of extreme sport. Two riders threading the rides of their lives separated by two different destinies, one of victory and one of legacy…

Kyle would rise and join the roster of champions of the race he so aspired for and Amber enters an eternity of greatness.

During the wake of Amber I prepared myself emotionally to ask some very personal questions as both Kyle and Amber are close to me. I asked Mr. Torres how he would like his son to be remembered and this was his reply.

“Gusto kong maalala ang anak ko sa kanyang pagiging mabait sa loob ng racetrack habang kumakarera, masiyahin, who competes fairly…” he pauses and composes himself recalling the prolific life of Amber. Looking back on your sons teeming career cut short by the realities of pursuing an extreme sport, would you have chosen or wished another sport for your son? “Wala kaming pinag sisihan, kahit ano, mas nanghihinayang kami dahil ang dami pa nyang pangarap, hindi lang sa motorsports, pero gusto pa sana nya maging piloto, if not maging aeronautic engineer, at maging mas maayos pa buhay ng pamilya nya” “Walang may gusto sa nangyare, huwag hayaan na pigilan yung pag grow ng mga batang rider dahil sa takot na may mangyareng di maganda, ang motorsports ay dangerous talagang di mo masabi kahit mag ingat” Finally he caps off the interview as if he was addressing his own son: “Enjoy lang ang mga batang rider, wag kayo masyadong serious dahil nakakadagdag ng pressure at di kayo mag eenjoy sa inyong ginagawa”

Kyle was also at the wake straight from the airport but I managed to squeeze in some questions to him despite the obvious grief in his eyes, but Mr. Paz’ reactions to my one question would leave a mark in my heart. The question goes: How does your son process victory despite the loss of a close friend as a result of the race: “Look at him as he savors victory, habang ninanamnam niya ang kanyang pag ka panalo, He is having the time of his life and part of that is mourning a fallen comrade”

From that point on I understood, that no matter the dangers of the sport its surrendering to it that is the ultimate reward. Bask in the glory of Victory for Kyle as we celebrate the legacy of Amber, only true riders would understand. Congratulations to Kyle and to Amber forever thread the race in the skies…