Date of Birth: 1st November 1984
Born: Ascot, Berkshire, England
Lives: Wokingham, Berkshire
Status: Single, One Son (Jack)
Job Title: Professional Race Car Driver
Interests: Family, Music, Golf, Tennis, Football (Arsenal Supporter) Gym
12 Questions To Tom Kimber-Smith – From Pre-Teen Joy-Rider To Le Mans Racer
What was the defining moment that made you realise you wanted to be involved in motor racing?
My interest in motorsport started when I was very young. I can remember going to watch my dad race his Toyota Corolla in what is now called Touring Cars. The weekends that I couldn’t go I was always glued to the TV. I remember the intro to Grandstand on the BBC included a crash of my dad’s. I would watch it every weekend hoping that he would crash again.
What was the crucial first step that got you involved in the sport?
The first step that got me involved in racing was the weekend that I went with my dad to Mondello. He was competing in the Citroën 2CV 24hrs race. I was only 6 but knew how to drive. The race was very boring so I went off on a little adventure. First, I managed to somehow buy a go kart (without engine) and then managed to get hold of the keys to the hire car! After an hour of driving round the outside of Mondello race circuit I was finally caught. I thought that this was the best fun I had ever had and wanted to do it every weekend.
What was your first race as a spectator?
I can’t remember my first race as a spectator, but it was probably watching my dad.
What was the first race that you feel you were actually involved in the sport?
Not sure really as I have always felt involved. I might not always have had a particular role, but I’ve been lucky enough to have been a part of some great teams that make you feel at home.
Growing up, who was your childhood hero and why?
My childhood hero was always my dad. He managed to race at a competitive level, run a business, and have time for the family.
What race car throughout history do you consider your favourite?
I have a couple of cars that are my favourite. Firstly, the Toyota Corolla GTE, which is the first memory of my dad racing; then a Ford Sierra Sapphire Cosworth.
Ultimately I would love to have a go in the Silk Cut Jaguar XJR9.
Which era of racing do you look back at as the one you wish you could have been a part of, or which era are you most proud to have been a part of?
The era that I would like to have been involved in would be the early to mid 90s British Touring Car Championship. It seemed very hard, close-fought racing, which I would have loved. I enjoyed watching, so it would have been amazing to be in.
My favourite era that I have been part of is the 2003 British Formula Ford Championship. This was great close racing, which could end up being like touring cars for single seaters. The championship was very competitive and I felt very at home with Team JLR (Richard Dean, Paul Haigh).
What is your dream driver pairing (any era)?
Schumacher and Senna would be an amazing driver pairing, and one that I would love to have seen. I have been lucky enough to drive with some brilliant people and, if I could, I would love to drive with them again. Danny Watts was a very good team mate in 2007, I learnt a lot from him with his enthusiasm, even though things where hard with the Panoz.
Bill Auberlen was a very quick driver. He would drag out a time that was nowhere to be found in the car. He would always amaze me. Joey Hand was another quick guy. He would partner Bill in most series and even though he was not as experienced, he would still be right there. You can see how good he is now after winning the Daytona 24hrs and Sebring 12hrs. It was more than likely down to him.
Tomas Enge is the ultimate guy. Not only is he super quick, I would have him engineer my car whenever. His technical ability amazed me and I found out that I had a lot to learn very quickly! He is very professional, but with a great sense of humour.
What was your most memorable race?
The 2006 Le Mans 24 Hours. The whole build up to the event was crazy. I was very lucky to even be part of the race, as at the test days we had blown two engines up. I actually did my ten compulsory laps on a blown engine. If it was not for Richard Dean and Lawrence Tomlinson, who thought to get me in the car, I would not have done the race. The race was quite smooth compared to the test day; all I can remember is double-stinting with Deany through the night. Every time I would get in the car I would ask where we were – P10, P6, P4…. it was surreal. Then to stand on the top step at Le Mans was a great feeling!
What was the race that you wished you’d never bothered to get out of bed for?
2007 LMS Spa. The Panoz had been a handful all year and Spa seemed to aggravate the car even more. I can remember sitting down with Danny Watts, talking about how we can find more time. Looking at his Qualifying footage, you could see that he was trying so hard. On the video, it looked like we should have been on pole by about five seconds; but in reality we were five seconds off pole. The Panoz round Spa was not a tame racing car.
What is the craziest/scariest thing you’ve ever seen at a race event?
Not seen anything too crazy or scary yet.
What is your favourite race to attend (work) and why?
I’ve got two really, Sebring 12hrs and the Le Mans 24hrs. Both have unbelievable support.I would go to either one as a driver or spectator as the atmosphere is amazing.