MANILA, Philippines?Philippine racing legend Pocholo Ramirez died at 1:30 a.m. Wednesday after a long battle with cancer.
He was 76.
Ramirez earned driver of the year awards six times. In 2000, he was the Blaze Super Saloon Champion at the age of 68.
Even after being diagnosed with urinary bladder cancer two and a half years ago, he still competed in local races. Up until he was 75, Ramirez would still be seen behind the wheel competing with racers less than half his age.
Ramirez, or "Tito Poch" in the motoring industry, became popular with the younger generation when, in 2005, he appeared in the TV commercial Petron Xtra Mile Challenge fuel economy run, and confidently uttered the famous "Traffic? Bring it on!" copy line.
Widely considered the "Jedi master of driving," Ramirez was admired for his smooth racing techniques.
He was born January 19, 1933 and started racing professionally at the age of 30.
His racing career spanned 45 years, with successful stints in Macau, Singapore, Malaysia, and Indonesia.
Ramirez was honored in the 2008 Car of the Year Awards with a lifetime achievement award late last year. A concert "I Heart Ramirez" was organized by motoring journalists late December 2008 in his honor.
At the popular social networking site Facebook, a follower remarked: "Tito Poch will blaze through the heavens teaching angels how to race."
Ramirez is survived by his wife Ellen Ramirez, five children Kookie, Georges, Louis, Michelle and Miguel, his daughters-in-law and sons-in-law. All four sons carry on the racing legacy of their father.
The Ramirez wake starts at 1 p.m. March 19 to March 20 at the Chapel C of Christ the King Church in Green Meadows, Quezon City. Novena mass will start at 7 p.m. The nine-day novena, starting Saturday, will be held at Valle Verde Country Club every 7 p.m.