Travel talk with Mark Winterbottom


With the 2016 V8 Supercars season underway, the jet-setting reigning champion reveals how he zones out (on the plane, not the track).

What’s the secret to a stress-free journey?

I like to put on noise-cancelling headphones and zone out. I find flying relaxing because it’s the one time you can’t be contacted and the inflight entertainment is so good. You switch off, watch a movie and people serve you drinks and food. It’s pretty comfortable.

How far out from a trip do you pack?

I’m a late packer. If it’s a Monday-morning flight then I start packing on Sunday night when the kids go to bed. When you do it often enough, you know your routine.

What is your routine?

I look at the weather and pack accordingly. When you travel for racing, you’re not spoilt for choice; it’s team shirts, team pants, team shoes, team jumpers – the same stuff week in, week out.

Do you have the same approach when you go on holidays – are you still a late packer?

Yeah but it’s harder because you have to work out what you’re buying, avoid overpacking, keep to your weight limits and all that sort of stuff. It’s always a last-minute thing. When we went to Bali, I started pulling out clothes the day before. It’s probably a male thing.

Do you roll or fold?

I’m a folder.

What do you never leave home without?

Noise-cancelling headphones and the iPad.

Do you get to the airport late or early?

Fairly late. We don’t live far from Melbourne Airport so on a good run it takes 11 minutes and on a not-too-bad run it takes 15. With the Frequent Flyer set-up, you can just walk in and check in and the whole process is really quick.

Have you ever missed a plane?

No. I’ve been racing for the past 13 years and never missed one – touch wood!

What’s your routine at the airport?

Check in, go to the lounge, have a coffee then get straight on the plane. There’s not much downtime. Because I’m away a lot, I spend as much time as possible at home and the least amount of time at the airport.

What do you wear on the plane?

Casual stuff like shorts and a T-shirt. That’s me – pretty comfy.

How do you pass the time on a long flight?

When I flew with Qantas to Brazil, I went Business so it was pretty much eat, watch movies and sleep. If you stay awake you’ll keep eating. Better to wake up fresh and be ready to roll at the other end.

Did you wear the pyjamas?

I put them on before we took off. I’m really excited to get into them; it’s a bit disturbing.

What’s your routine on a longer flight?

My wife and I have two kids so it involves keeping the iPad up to date and making sure they’re on top of their entertainment. If they’re happy, we’re happy.

Any arguments about the window seat?

It doesn’t bother me and we make the kids share. They’re more interested in the iPad and the movies, to be honest, than looking out the window.

Do you request a particular seat?

An aisle, as close to the front as possible. I travel light so first on, first off.

Are you a chatty seat buddy?

No. I sit there with my headphones on and chill out. I’m not antisocial but I’m not a big chatter, either.

What’s the last inflight movie you watched?

I like watching TV sitcoms. On my last flight I watched Two and a Half Men. On the way to Brazil I watched Southpaw, which was a full-on movie. It was sad, actually; it’s an emotional movie.

What’s the last book you read on a plane?

I’ve never been a reader. I read the inflight magazine to get an idea of where to holiday but, other than that, I get straight onto the movies. 

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