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Suzuka International Racing Course. 22 September 2020
January 13, 2016
Published on tags: Community Spotlight Tom Parker


In the return of the Community Spotlight article series, Thomas Hinss talks to Tom Parker, who had a very successful campaign last season in the league. He looks back on his 2015 season, as well as what he thinks the future of the league holds.
Hinssy: Thank you for taking the time for this interview Tom. We will start off with how this all began, what was the things that made you want to get involved with the hobby we all follow of sim racing?

Parker: I first discovered sim-racing back in 2008 when I was playing a browser-based F1 style management game called GPRO. It was there that I met a few of the guys that you will all know such as Chris Williamson, Ben Warren, David Jundt etc.

We started mucking around using the sim F1 Challenge 99-02 for some quick races and then one thing led to another and boom, GPROC was born! My first ever taste of a sim racing league and whilst we were all crap, we loved it. The simplicity and fun factor was amazing back then. Obviously it has evolved into a much more competitive past time of mine but those were some of the best days ever back then!

H: It is quite fascinating think just how much things have changed since those days of sim racing. Looking a bit closer to the present day now, how was your 2015 season at the GPVWC from your perspective?

2015 was obviously my most successful year in the Career Ladder especially. Whilst it wasn't my most successful year championships wise (2013 got me both a WSS and a Masters WCC title), it was my best year in terms of raw pace and consistency, especially towards the tail end of the year whilst we were fighting for the Superleague WCC for CSG.

I also had a few missed opportunities throughout the year and I actually managed to really rein myself in, especially after a pretty torrid mid-season slump where I was getting involved in a fair few first corner incidents. Austria is a prime example of what could have been, being one of the fastest drivers on the track in the changing conditions only for it all to be a null point anyway because I had jumped the start!

Thankfully, I got a morale boosting podium (and my first ever SL podium!) at my home Grand Prix in Silverstone and from there, the consistency and raw pace started to come out. Yeah, the car was good, especially from Spa onward, but working together with Alex Cooper and Lewis Redshaw really helped me improve and I think the speed would have been there in any car. Austin was a fantastic race for the team with the 1-2 and the strategy game I played worked out to perfection for me.

So in short, I enjoyed myself in the CL and I haven't even mentioned the fun I had in WSS with Epic! Another few epic (DAT PUN DOE) races with those guys with Turkey (2nd in Race 2) and Monaco (19th to 4th around Monaco in a Porsche during Race 2!) were highlights of mine there.

H: It certainly was a busy year for you in 2015, a lot of racing in very different styles of car. Of course as you mentioned you did drive in the top tier series here at the GPVWC last season, was that time driving in the top format last season a bit of a eye opening experience for you?

P: It took a while to get used to the car early on and I did start to doubt myself quite a bit during the mid-part of the season as I mentioned before. Was I cut out for a championship charge and did I even have the pace to be worthy of the seat entrusted on me? Thankfully it all changed for the better!

Indeed it did, it seemed you started to really find your groove with the car, as shown by your results during the second half of the season. With last season being the last of rFactor 1's usage as the mainstay sim in the league, what is your fondest memory from those days of the league?

P: Dave Carr-Smith telling me he was proud of me after winning my first race :D

On a serious note, that is a question I struggle to answer. Having been at the league since late 2009, there are a lot of things I could suggest. Winning my first ever title with Midnight in WSS, the last race showdown of both Masters 13 and SL 2015 (both with CSG) or even my first ever race back in the Megane Trophy of late 2009.

But my fondest memory? Probably the 2012 season whilst I drove for Woods (Ollie will be happy to hear that!). My reasoning being it was just pure racing. No fighting for titles, no pressure to perform. Just go out there and have fun, an ideology that I know Woods keep to this day.

Now don't get me wrong, to say that I didn't have fun at Midnight/CSG in the following years is completely false some of my other fond memories came with the team be it in Teamspeak or on Skype discussing races and strategy or testing with the guys but I don't know, Woods kinda felt special as they took me in when I was on the verge of dropping out of Superleague and I like to think I did my best to pay them back on the track.

Having driven for Woods myself in 2014 and 2015 I can certainly understand why memories of driving for the team are among your fondest at the GPVWC, enjoying your sim racing is still one of the main aims of the team. Looking to the future now with the new mainstay sim of rFactor 2 being used within the league, are you excited for what the future holds for the league with this newer sim now in use?

P: Yes incredibly so. There were points through the duration of last year that I was worried about the direction the league was heading in but now I think the steps are in place to make the crucial change of direction needed for the league to grow. 2016 will be an incredibly key year for the league what with the new sim coming into play. It will expand the community hugely and the influx of drivers who have been testing on the server and been announcing their arrival on the forums is astounding. Some of the names I have seen are people I would never have dreamt of racing against but here they are, at our little league, coming for the titles and hopefully, having loads of fun whilst at it!

H: I would definitely have to ego that statement, hopefully a very entertaining year is ahead for the league and its followers. The Disciplinary Committee has also been overhauled this season, what are your thoughts on these new changes to the DC for 2016, especially considering that penalties in general have been stiffened for on track incidents and track limit breaches?

The changes needed to happen. Simple as really. The DC got a lot of stick last year. Some of it deserved, some of it definitely not deserved, but this new hard stance has definitely given us a good look at how a DC should act.

I am glad the track limits rule has been put into place and is being policed so well in the Masters. That was probably the change that needed to happen most if I am honest.

The key thing for the DC now, and I am sure Mike will be doing his best to make sure this happens, is that the decisions are consistent and that the DC are transparent with what they have decided and why they decided that from round to round, race to race, series to series. Obviously there will be some minor differences in the tin top and open wheel leagues but the major rules such as cutting, major contact, even crossing white lines are kept consistent and we know what the rules are concerning them.

No wishy washy stuff, just this is the rule. If you break it, we will penalise you. Simple as. Round 1 of Masters was a perfect example of how it should be done. People moaned but then, what do you expect with every new thing once we are used to something different? I myself got caught up in the new cutting rule in qualifying but I accept it, I (will try to atleast!) not do it again and move on. The DC is onto something amazing with this. I just hope they keep up the work they have shown they can do throughout the year.

It definitely has been a refreshed approach to the way in which the rules are applied and enforced here at the league, hopefully the racing will be as close and exciting as ever. With these changes to the DC and new sim, do you see the style of racing changing?

Oh yeah. There will be a HUGE change in the style of racing and it will be interesting to see who manages it best. I know some people are really struggling with the tyres in terms of you lock up or wear them out, there will be no grip and yeah, good bye pace. No more going flat out for 68 laps and the tyres just surviving. You need to be careful and tactical and that is the sort of racing I especially relish. Bring it on is all I say!

H: It certainly will be a very interesting few months ahead, as all the drivers adjust to the enhanced levels of realism with tyres, engine wear and the broader way in which the cars behave. Now for the three questions we always ask for these interviews, starting with when did you start sim racing?

P: I started simracing on March 29th 2008 when I joined my first ever online server in F1 Challenge and properly competitively back in 2009/Start of 2010. It's been a long 8 years!

H: That certainly was a long time ago on the sim racing spectrum! What is your sim racing setup?

I have a single HP monitor which has served me well for a few years now! I have a GTX 960 Gaming 2G gfx with 8gb of RAM which shall be upgraded soon to more RAM to hopefully stop some little stutters.

I use a G27 wheel with the standard pedals and shifter. Nothing flashy and if I am honest, no need to upgrade until something breaks or will dramatically improve my racing style or speed.

Well as long as it does the job then that's all that matters in the end. Lastly, what other hobbies do you have outside of sim racing?

P: One is something I shouldn't mention of a family aimed website!

All jokes aside, I like to read and when I can, I go karting though it's not very often and nothing competitive. I love playing Rainbow Six: Siege at the moment so if you want to add me and have a play sometimes on the PS4, my PSN is DatNeck63 so add me up!

Well I expect a flurry of add requests to you now in search of those Rainbow Six shenanigans! Thank you again for taking the time for an interview, we wish you the best of luck for the 2016 season.

That ramps up the return of the Community Spotlight article series, be sure to join us again next time as we continue to have a in depth look at the members who make up the GPVWC community.

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