Second Home Venue Ready To Welcome Back Chris Vermeulen

There are no prizes for guessing that the name Vermeulen is originally from the Netherlands, but just how close are Chris’s ties with the country that is about to host his full comeback to racing?

See Chris Vermeulen with his Aussie beach shorts, sandals and sunglasses on and he is every inch the Queenslander, ready to go play in the warm waters that lap the eastern coast of Australia.

But dig one level below the surface and Chris’s Dutch heritage is right there, a fact that has increasing relevance as both he and the whole Kawasaki Racing Team crew begin their preparations to head to Assen for the third round of the Superbike World Championship on April 17.

As Chris explains, his connections to ‘the old country’ may be in the past but it is a living past. “My paternal grandparents came over to Australia, I guess just after the war, in the late 1940s or early ‘50s. They were born in Holland. My granddad was a third generation baker and they were based not so far from Amsterdam, just a little towards the south of the city. They moved out to Australia with four kids, and my dad was born in Australia. Eventually they had nine kids so it was a big family! My dad is a baker in Australia, which means he is the fourth generation, but I said that is kind of where it stops!”

For most European immigrants the movement to somewhere as far-flung as Australia means maintaining links with the old country by long distance communication only, but for the Vermeulens, the link was maintained in a very hands-on way. “My dad went back out to Holland, the whole family did, when he was about 12. They did a year and a half back there. My Dad did some schooling, and stayed with the family. It was sort of a long holiday back in the Netherlands before heading back to Australia.”

Now, at least once a year Chris gets to go back to what many consider to be a university course for any racer who fancies himself as a champion - the Circuit van Drenthe in Assen.

In World Superbike guise Chris has got enviable qualifications at Assen already, as he himself explains. “I did four previous races in WSBK at Assen, got three wins and a fourth, “ said Chris. “That was at the older and longer track, which was my just about my favourite place in the world. It is still like a second home for me at Assen and I get a lot of following there from other Vermeulens. Cousins of my Dad, and other relatives, so it is always good to go there.”

The lineage back to the Netherlands for Chris is so close in fact that under current soccer qualification rules Vermeulen could probably be selected to wear the famous orange strip of The Netherlands national football team… But do not hold your breath waiting, as Chris explains. “If you saw me with a soccer ball I do not think The Netherlands would want me to play! They also play cricket in the Netherlands now and they did quite well in the recent Cricket World Cup, but I am pretty hopeless at that too. Just as well I can ride a motorbike because I cannot do much else, I think.”

Everybody knows that what Chris may lack in skill at ball games he can more than make up for in bike racing. Only injury and a long period of recovery have held up Vermeulen’s most recent racing exploits for KRT, but at Assen he is set for a full weekend of racing, and he could not be racing at a better venue than his second ‘home’ circuit.