HSO Interview #4 : Timo Vermeersch

A popular feature on the HSO forum is Timo's blog Intersection Diaries with its extensive race reports and the J.P. Voigt chronicles, giving us an inside view of the career of a racer who "can't drive and has a lousy way with women". But who is the creative mind behind all these stories?

Timo has been racing with HSO since 2009. This weekend's procar race at the Norisring will mark his 50th race start. He has never claimed an overall win in our league but has finished on the podium once in the 1970 USAC series in 2010, repeated that performance five years later in the 1971 Trans-Am championship and again in the 2017 season driving a Porsche 956 in the Silverstone 6 Hours, also winning the Group C class. 2019 sees him in a fulltime drive in the 1980 Procar series.

Can you tell us a little bit more about yourself ?

Hometown : Brussels.
Occupation : Real estate consulting and development.
Family : Married, 2 teen daughters.
Hobbies : Sim racing, reading, writing, living.

Tell us more about Timo the simracer...

The first sim you ever raced on : Papyrus’ Indy 500.

Your first online race : A race with the F1rst software for F1 Challenge 99-02. Those were races where the field was split up into heats of 4 drivers each. The race was on Phoenix Oval. So a heat of 4 cars on an oval… the cars being a Mini Cooper Mod… And still someone managed to cut me while I was lapping him Smile.

The leagues you have raced in : VMS The League of GT Men, GBGPL, Vlaamse Racing League, BES (Benelux Endurance Series), HSO (apart from HSO, most others are defunct now.)

The best race in your life : BES 6h of Spa with an adapted GTR2-conversion mod on rFactor. My first ever endurance race with driver swaps. Also have very fond memories of the 1976 Euro GT championship (HSO 2009) and the 1971 Trans-Am championship (HSO 2015). I regret now that I did not run more races in those championships.

Championships and honours you have won : I won the GBGPL 1967 Season 7 Division 2-series. Full results HERE.
Besides that not much really: one victory in the WEC 1982 series (HSO 2017) at Silverstone but that was, in truth, mainly Raul’s doing. However, the main thing for me is to have a good time while racing online. The results do not matter that much.

Your worst simracing moment : Honestly, I have no real bad sim-race memories. Sure, I had races where I wrecked, quit or disconnected and immediately after felt like: never again. But those feelings always receded quiet rapidly and looking back, I have no real bad memories.

Any simracer you admire or consider a model : I really admire people like Peter Raemen (aka Petrol who did the physics of the Touring Car Legends-mod), Richard Wilks and David Sabre. Even if not the fastest drivers, they have a solid pace and combine it with a knowledge of racing and understanding of software that allows them to provide us with top notch mods. They kind of link real live racing with the sims.

Which sims or mods are your all-time favourites : F1 1965-mod for GPL.

Which mod(s) would you like to see being made in the future: 1971 24h of Spa on rFactor2. Just look at that FIELD.
Most of these cars already exist for GTL but the physics often feel questionable.

Are you an avid fan of motor racing, or just a casual follower ?

When did you discover motor racing : Somewhere around 1976, I stayed a night over at my grandparents and was allowed to stay up to watch a movie. The movie was Le Mans. For the next months, when in bed at night, I replayed that last scene (the guy spurting away from the stricken Ferrari) in my head at least twice. From the movie, I had not grasped that in real life accidents can end in tragedy. I learned that the hard way some years later, on May 8th, 1982, when I was in the car with my father and the radio announced that Gilles Villeneuve had passed away in Leuven, almost next door.

First race you attended : somewhere late ‘80’s, a touring car thing at Zolder.

Your favourite drivers, makes or teams : J. Clark, G. Villeneuve, A. Senna. As a kid, everything Ferrari was magic. But that faded. No real team favorites since then.

Do you still follow motor racing on a regular basis : No.

Are you a fan of racing history in general : Yes.

If yes, which era(s) do you prefer : Almost everything from 1965-ish to 1995-ish.

Tell us more about your HSO experience.

How did you discover HSO : Honestly, I can’t remember.

Your best HSO memories : I only have fond HSO memories. Best souvenir is probably the WEC 82-race at the Nordschleife.

What do you like the most at HSO : the fact that seasons are simulated as correctly as possible and the general atmosphere of everyone trying to add his large or smaller piece to the puzzle.

What could be improved at HSO : Nada.

Which championship would you like to see organized at HSO in the future : I like to be surprised Smile.

How about your 2018 and 2019 seasons at HSO ?

Did your 2018 season live up to your expectations: Both Can-Am and F1 1971 were a blast. And had a really good time doing the reports on top of it.

Highlights of the previous season: Mosport in the 1971 F1’s, heading for a points finish until I blew it all by myself.

Which cars are you driving in which series this year : Zoll Auto BMW M1 in the Procar series. And if I receive a 73 Formula 3-car, also that.

Your hopes and dreams for this of the year : Getting a point or two would be nice.

Your favourite opponent(s) on track : Mick Chapman and Mark Craggs. In equal cars, they both are about my pace and they are clean racers, which often results in good scrapes.

The (Alain) Prost Questionnaire : based on the famous questionnaire(s) by French author Marcel Proust

Your chief characteristic as a simracer : Very slow in and slow out as well.

Your biggest flaw as a simracer : Very slow in and slow out as well.

Your favourite qualities in a simracer : I like sim-racers who drive in such a way that it looks like the car could be driven the same way in real life. Examples of such drivers at HSO are Jaques and Coxon. Some other fast drivers look so over the top that you can just not shake the idea that, in real life, their cars would break down in a matter of laps.

Your ultimate simracing dream : Win a Pulitzer for a collection of sim-race reports?

Your worst simracing nightmare : The day I get simracing nightmares, I quit Laughing.

If you could be a real driver who would you like to be : A balanced mixture of Clark and Villeneuve.

The circuit on which you could live : Toban, aka Pujerra.

Your favourite colour or livery for a car : The Rothmans Porsche 956’s.

Your favourite racing car ever : Porsche 956/962.

Your favourite motoring author or journalist : Nigel Roebuck.

Your favourite fictional racing movie or book : Grand Prix.

What do you hate above all in racing : Rain delays.

What do you hate above all in simracing : Nothing really.

The greatest racing feat you remember : Watkins Glen 1979, free practice on Friday under torrential rains: Villeneuve was 11 seconds faster than anyone else... 11 SECONDS.

Your current state of mind : Tired… It’s Friday afternoon and I had a Belgian lunch Laughing.

Your racing motto : Non mollare mai!