BACK ON TRACK
What is failure but the most extreme and exquisite form of experience? and What is the racetrack but an entry point to the school of life? meet race car driver marlon stockinger.
Fame comes with the territory, but that matters very little to race car driver Marlon Stockinger.
It was an important day for GP3, a single-seater motor racing series. For the first time since GP3’s inception in 2010, it was holding a race at the Circuit de Monaco, arguably the most famous track in Formula One—a dream experience for young drivers who aimed to make it to F1 like then 21-year-old Marlon Stockinger.
FOR THE pHILIppINES
A few laps into the 2012 race with 13 mean machines blasting at 300kph and already the smell of burning rubber and exhaust fumes filled the air. The race looked like it was off to a good start till a car clipped the tail of another, sending it into the air before flipping and landing upside down. The incident slowed everyone down. It would have set back Marlon Stockinger, who was in the lead, but he had his eyes on the prize. Defending his position, he took on the pressure from Portugal’s Antonio Felix da Costa who desperately yet dynamically trailed behind throughout the race. Marlon wouldn’t let him get ahead. He had to keep the top position, he told himself, and so he did. Some drivers began losing control, and a few more laps and several more collisions into the second half of the race, the track’s side fence got damaged and the race had to end at 14 laps instead of 18. Marlon Stockinger had won.
This 2012 GP3 Series round in Monaco was Marlon’s debut first place win in the GP3, and more importantly, he says, it was also the Philippines’ first. “Marlon Stockinger did everything right. Not just did everything right, but he put up with so much pressure from Antonio Felix da Costa,” said the race’s TV announcer as Marlon’s car slowed down in the winner’s lane. “For Stockinger, it’s another fabulous result. It’s his second visit to the podium. The first time was the very first race of the season and that was for second position. Today, though, it’s for a win, and a richly deserved one.”
“Woohoo!” Marlon shouted in careless abandon as got out of his car. He raised his fists in the air and yelled another time, obviously unable to contain his joy. He saw his father, Tom Stockinger, whom he embraced and lifted up in excitement. “Great to see his emotions here with a win at Monaco, and it was not an easy win. Not easy at all soaking up all the pressure from pole position, not making a mistake from pole, leading the way. He drove absolutely beautifully,” continued the announcer.
Marlon saw the TV camera pan to his face and took the chance to send his love and air kisses. “For the Philippines!” he shouted with pride and joy. Later on, he took to the podium and raised his trophy. The Philippine national anthem was played as the Philippine flag was raised and Marlon Stockinger, the only Filipino race car driver to have made it this far into Formula racing, was in tears. “A win anywhere is special,” said the announcer, “but in Monaco it is extra special.”
up TO SpEED
Marlon has won numerous races, “too many to count with my hands,” he says nonchalantly, but this win in GP3 was indeed extra special. It was a proud moment for the Philippines in Formula racing, with Marlon earning the country’s first honors in that category. Other notable wins for Marlon include being the 2006 Asian Karting champion, the 2007 Philippine Rotax Max champion, and the 2008 Formula BMW Pacific Scholarship winner, apart from other accomplishments in Formula Renault, Formula Renault 3.5 Series, and the Blancpain GT Series, which he raced in last year. “It brings me so much joy to carry the country’s flag, to have it on my car,” he says. “It doesn’t even need to have my name on it, just the flag.”
He is more Filipino than anyone can imagine. Behind his fair skin, brown eyes, and chiseled face is a boy born and raised in Manila by a Swiss father and Filipino mother; who played tumbang preso and piko with his two younger siblings; who spent afternoons on the streets of La Huerta, Parañaque, with his cousins and grandmother; and who enjoys Filipino food.
Unlike his classmates, however, Marlon didn’t head to basketball clinics on weekends or football training after school. He spent his time either with Calcarrie’s, an international modeling agency, or on the racetrack in Carmona, Cavite, with his father, who introduced him to kart racing at age nine. He dreamt of becoming one of those racetrack daredevils he and his father watched on TV. Seduced by speed and moved by the adrenaline rush, Marlon found a sense of purpose on the track. “In my first race, I got a trophy,” he recalls. “I think it came naturally. The talent was there and I knew I had to put in the hard work and dedication.”
The road to Formula One is never easy. Marlon continues to drive in the GP3 series. Drivers usually move up racing classes not only through practice, talent, hard work, and winning, but through sponsorships and outside support. It is a very expensive sport, and so Marlon feels very lucky to have parents who have been supporting him and finding sponsorships to help him carry on with his profession. “I’ll forever be indebted to my parents in this regard because they have been super supportive and they have always believed in my abilities,” he says. “I want to return the favor in a way and win more races and championships for