With a career that spans a decade, Filipino-Swiss racing driver Marlon Stockinger has been constantly at the top of his game, travelling around the world to raise our flag on international tracks since he was a teenager. But beyond the sport and the pride that comes with crossing the finish line, Marlon’s caliber is found in the way he has built a resilient attitude and acquired high regard for hard work.
Since officially joining the big leagues in Europe at age 18, Marlon has raced nonstop each year and made a name for himself specifically when he won the 2012 GP3 Series in Monaco. These days, however, he’s been laying low and biding his time as he finds his footing to get back to the race once again.
As we begin our interview, we ask Marlon what’s been keeping him busy lately, to which Pia Wurtzbach, our Miss Universe and Marlon’s adoring girlfriend who accompanied him to the shoot, chimes in, “Pia!” Marlon laughs, admitting, “That’s a part of it.” But other than spending quality time with his object of affection, he’s been constantly preparing and sourcing support to get back on the tracks. “Every year since I started, I’ve been able to go racing. For the first time this year, it’s a bit more difficult, but it’s understandable. It’s not just me; it’s every racing driver who goes through this at some point in their career.” He adds, “I’m just going to keep my head up, continue working at it, and I’ll be back on the grid soon.”
Here, the 26-year-old chats about yacht parties, style essentials, and his favorite travel buddy and gets real about the challenges of racing and having a public image.
What has been your proudest moment so far?
My proudest moment was definitely when I won the Monaco Grand Prix. But I’ve had several moments where just representing the country was already a great opportunity for myself. It made me proud just to be able to raise the flag during some of those races. And to have the formula car come here on Filipino soil for the first time with a Filipino driver, that was also a great moment for me.
Can you tell us about the first time you’ve driven a car?
The first time I did it I think I was thirteen. Okay, it’s maybe illegal. (Laughs) But you tend to do that when you’re on race tracks and you’re on everything that has wheels and an engine. I was racing go-karts. I was riding ATVs, scooters, motorcycles, cars – everything you could basically put fuel into. It was a cool experience and I think you need to go through those steps in order to get to a good level as a driver.
You started competing at a young age. What was it like travelling and representing the country at that time?
It was great. I think when I was very young it was more about just enjoying it. It was a good way to travel with family and my friends from the racetrack. I think in the beginning, you always have to remember what you’re doing it for, and the first reason you’re doing it is to just have fun. I think people kind of lose track of that because they get too serious or there’s too much pressure from family or managers and the team. So I think as long as you remember the fun in whatever you choose to do, you’re always going to be successful. That is still the most important thing.
“[Racing] is like a drug in a way. You always end up looking for it once you experience winning.”
What do you enjoy most about racing?
The thing I enjoy the most is definitely the adrenaline rush, the whole procedure, and getting into the flow of everything. It’s being able to just get out there and compete against the best drivers in the world and your only aim is to try and beat them. That’s such an awesome feeling when you do that because you’re the best in that moment at that day. It’s just a really thrilling feeling. It’s like a drug in a way. You always end up looking for it once you experience winning. That’s what racing is to me.
How about the most challenging part?
It’s a challenge to understand that you can’t win every race. There are so many factors that can go against you so you need to be able to persevere over that. As much as people think it’s just an individual sport, it’s very much a team sport. It’s very much the machinery you have under your butt. Understanding that process is basically the hardest thing you need to overcome. You have to realize that sometimes it’s not your fault and you just have to accept that at the end of the day.
Obviously, you travel a lot. What has been your most memorable destination so far?
The most memorable one would have to be Monaco because it’s in the south of France and it becomes one of the crown jewels of motorsport for that one weekend every year. And it’s just amazing to see the extravagance of the people who live there, the people who fly there to watch the races, the people in the yachts, all the fancy cars in the casino square. It was memorable for me because literally after winning the race I could see myself all over the television and all the screens around Monaco. Even in the museum there, they have me alongside [Ayrton] Senna and other racing greats who have won the race and other championships as well. There’s a lot of prestige. I just could go to every single club without needing a VIP ticket because I won the race, you know. (Laughs) For that one night they also treated me like royalty so I’ll definitely never forget it. After the party, I found myself in a yacht somewhere being awoken by the sound of Formula 1. So yeah, that was the most memorable experience for me.
When you’re on vacation, are you the type of traveler who likes to relax or do you tend to be more adventurous?
I like to relax. But if I go and travel just for myself, I’m normally doing it to go and see new places and that means I need to be active. I need to get out there and just dig into the culture. I think that’s part of the experience and it’s the best way to spend your money. A lot of people like to spend on material things but I always suggest that when you’re young, you have to travel for the experience because that’s one way of going further in life, whether it’s learning about a new culture, about other people, and just seeing things. It gives you a really good perspective in that sense.
What’s in your travel bucket list this year?
I’d like to see more of Asia for sure and not just to race but literally to experience the countries I’ve been wanting to see like South Korea – that would be pretty cool. I’d also love to go to an island like Fiji just because I love the beach. And I’ve been here in Manila for some time now, so it would be also good to go back to Europe. I love being there during the summer. We have long endless days, and that’s always nice.
What are your travel essentials?
Definitely you need a good suitcase with wheels, four wheels specifically. It just makes life easier. I always have to bring headphones. I just like listening to music when I’m on the road traveling, in the bus, in transit. I also bring a nice toiletry bag because sometimes the hotels don’t provide you with all the amenities you need.
“It’s a challenge to understand that you can’t win every race. There are so many factors that can go against you so you need to be able to persevere over that.”
Who’s the best person to travel with?
Honestly, this year I’ve been doing most of my travels with Pia [Wurtzbach] so I enjoy that a lot with her. Definitely, she’s my best travel companion.
Let’s talk about your personal style, what’s your go-to outfit on a casual day?
Definitely jeans and a plain shirt, black or white, V-neck or round neck. I also love wearing joggers. It’s just comfy especially here in the Philippines because it’s hot and you get sweaty. It’s nice to be in something light like sportswear. It’s a good alternative to jeans.
What are the top five pieces every guy should have?
Definitely a good pair of leather shoes, a pair of jeans that you can almost wear every day, a solid leather jacket. But that’s kind of hard to say here because you might look pretentious wearing a leather jacket in Manila. In Europe and other cooler climates, you can get away with it. Another thing is a pair of sunglasses. You have to protect your eyes but at the same time look good in doing it. It’s also nice to have a little accessory. Whether it’s a watch or a nice necklace – nothing too fancy; just a bit low-key – that always adds to your style.
What do you think makes a man stylish?
I think it’s not necessarily the clothes he wears but how he wears those clothes. We all come from different backgrounds and some people can’t afford certain items, but I feel like more often than not, the most stylish people are the guys who can carry that style with confidence.
Are you the kind of guy who has a a skincare routine?
I just wash my face once a day and put a bit of moisturizer. It’s good to not let your skin become dry; it keeps you a bit younger. Every two weeks I go to a barber shop, and I get totally taken care of. Either I get a cutthroat shave or a proper haircut. I think that’s the most that I’ll do in terms of grooming.
What’s your fitness routine like?
My fitness routine is just really all about eating healthy. I don’t go too crazy with diet. I just like to keep it simple. I like to keep it as natural or organic as possible and have simple carbohydrates whether it’s brown rice and the greens on your plate – because you need the fiber to digest that – and then simple proteins like chicken, fish, something light. It’s nice to feel light all the time. Obviously, I like to indulge but it’s good to have almost like a caveman diet in that sense. I really don’t like processed food. When it comes to exercise I did a triathlon at the beginning of the year and came in the top ten in my age group. That’s also just a good way for me to keep my fitness base up in the offseason or if I’m not racing just to be ready anytime I need to get into a racing car.
What keeps you motivated to stick to your routine?
One is to not have a belly. (Laughs) I think two is just if ever I do get a chance to sit in the car then it’s obviously just to be ready for that moment. There’s been talks with getting sponsors so in any case when it does suddenly happen, I always want to be prepared. Having that in the back of my head, knowing that I’ve done everything I could any way regardless, I think that’s what keeps me motivated. Any chance you get, it’s good to feel good, to look good. It’s just motivation in itself that I’m not going to be one of those guys who suddenly just get fat when they retire because they have no reason to stay fit anymore. I’m going to keep in shape because I just feel good by doing it.
So being in the public eye, how do you deal with negativity or people talking about your personal life?
I think every person should know that whatever you do in life, there’s always someone who’s not going to be happy about who you are, what you do, or this or that. But as long as you appreciate the fan love and that you understand that you can’t please everyone, you’re good. There’s a lot less pressure. Also, if you put your phone down, there’s also a whole world out there that’s happening constantly in front of you. We’re so overexposed in terms of the information we get from our phones that sometimes we think that’s the world we live through or live by. But I think once you put that phone down and realize that there’s life right in front of you, then you don’t hear so much of that noise or you don’t feel the hate like that.
“It’s okay if you’re not the most talented person out there. But if you work hard, there’s no way of beating that.”
What principle has helped you grow throughout your career?
Just being level-headed. I don’t think it’s necessarily a principle. I think it’s just how I am with everything I go through – the ups and downs in racing, in life. Everyone goes through ups and downs in their life so you just have to be strong. We’re human; we have to feel certain things. If you feel like you’re having a bad day, it’s up to you to decide whether that bad day is going to end or whether tomorrow’s going be better. Unless you do something about it, nothing’s going to change. Knowing that you have that power within you and how strong the mind can be, I think that’s what’s kept me level-headed so far and that’s what pushed me throughout my career so far.
What do you think makes a person successful?
A successful person is someone who consistently works at whatever craft it is, whether it’s a student in school, a CEO in a company, or a world champion in racing. It’s really someone who is just always continually working on themselves. It’s okay if you’re not the most talented person out there. But if you work hard, there’s no way of beating that. It always pays off in the end.