Screen to Speed: Meet Racer, Talent Manager Yvonne Houffelaar

Yvonne Houffelaar has followed her dream of becoming a race car driver despite being diagnosed with scoliosis at birth, a condition that causes a sideways curvature of the spine. The twenty-nine year old racer and talent manager for Init Sports, grew up in Rotterdam, Netherlands racing go-karts despite years of braces and eventual surgeries.

“The scoliosis is a part of my life. It didn't make it easy, but I'm always up for a challenge. I always try to get the best out of everything.”

After the surgery, Houffelaar found go-kart racing too difficult and walked away from the sport. Years later she found sim racing which virtually simulates competitive auto racing right down to the very last detail. Including real world variables such as fuel usage, tire wear and tear, and handling.

Making use of STEM in racing

Gathering all of this information and processing it quickly is what every major successful pit crew in real life auto racing would do. However, Houffelaar is not only a racer on her team responsible for making these crucial adjustments that are desperately needed to win, she is also a talent manager with Init and for Screen to Speed, the new eSports sim racing tournament.

“STEM, science, technology, engineering and math - all important in sim racing, you need to get the setup right for the car. You need to calculate how many laps I'm gonna do. You need to know how much fuel you need. You also do a little bit more so you're not running out of fuel. I do it every day. And I think a lot of (sim) drivers do the same but also in real life they are doing that every day.”

Inspiring the Next Generation

Houffelaar has been competing behind the wheel for roughly 20 years. During that time she has seen some growth in the gender composition of those in the racing community especially when it comes to sim racing, but she would like to see bigger strides. Screen to Speed aims to bring those people competing virtually directly into motorsports with an ultimate goal to level the playing field for all who want to compete.

“When I was younger, and I was racing, it was all about the men…Now luckily, there’s a lot more women coming in. And I think it will be good too when we get together, more involved. There are a lot of women out there that have a passion for racing. Screen to Speed is very inclusive and about diversity and I think that's important. Because there are a lot of people out there who don't feel welcome in all the sim racing communities and Screen to Speed shows that everyone is welcome.”

Whether it is championing gender equality in the sim racing community or inspiring other persons with disabilities to pursue their dreams Houffelaar continues to be the standard for what it means to truly live by example.

“My passion is racing. Sim racing especially helps to get women involved and people with a disability involved, to help them and show them that you can achieve everything as long as you believe in it.”