Monday, December 05, 2016

"Happy Birthday" James Hinchcliffe

December 5, 1986
James "Hince" Hinchcliffe
Born in Oakville, Ontario, Canada.
He is also the self-proclaimed mayor of Hinchtown (a fictional town) on social media and the 2011 IndyCar "Rookie of the Year".

After karting, he started his open-wheel career in 2003, when he finished 3rd in Bridgestone Racing Academy F2000 series. Next year he was top rookie in Formula BMW USA, winning three races. In 2005, he raced in the Star Mazda Series, finishing 3rd overall with three wins. In 2006 he moved to the Champ Car Atlantic Series series with Forsythe Racing. He won one race at Portland and scored two other podiums, but was only able to finish 10th in the overall standings. Hinchcliffe also provided commentary for the Eurosport coverage of Champ Car events during the 2006 and 2007 seasons.

He then joined A1 Team Canada in A1 Grand Prix. He finished 8th in the sprint race and 13th in the feature in his first race at Zandvoort, then had a stunning weekend in Brno. He scored 2nd in the sprint race at the Czech round and led the feature for the majority of the race, but clashed with eventual winner Alex Yoong which dropped him down to 5th. He raced next at the Beijing round, finishing 4th in the sprint race and 10th in the feature (which he could have won but for a team pitstop strategy error), and then returned after two races out at the New Zealand round, where he finished 6th in both races.

'Hinch' once again raced in the Champ Car Atlantic Series in 2007, this time with the Sierra Sierra team. He finished 4th in points without a win. During the season he was also a guest commentator on the international feed for Champ Car World Series races. He returned to Forsythe Racing for the 2008 Atlantic Championship season, again finishing 4th in points but this time capturing a win in the second race of the season at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca.

For the 2009 season, he competed in the Firestone Indy Lights Series for perennial powerhouse team Sam Schmidt Motorsports in their #7 car. Hinchcliffe struggled by #7 car standards, finishing 5th in points without a win or pole position. In 2010 season, he signed on with the less historically-successful Team Moore Racing in their #2 entry. Hinchcliffe captured three wins and five more podium finishes on his way to second in the championship behind French rookie Jean-Karl Vernay who was driving the Schmidt #7 car.

He also served as the driver analyst for the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Radio Network for the 2010 Indianapolis 500 as regular driver analyst Davey Hamilton was competing in the race.

Hinchcliffe signed with Newman/Haas Racing to compete in the 2011 IndyCar Series season.
(photo credit: Paul Henman via photopin cc)
He made his debut at Barber Motorsports Park and failed to finish after making contact with a spinning E. J. Viso. He then picked up his first career top five finish in just his second start in the series on the Streets of Long Beach with a 4th place finish. Hinchcliffe then collected a top ten on the Streets of Sao Paulo in Brazil. He finished 9th. James started 13th in his first Indianapolis 500. Hinchcliffe ran up front for an early portion of the race before crashing on lap 101 and finishing 29th. Following the Indy 500, was the Firestone Twin 275s in Texas. 'Hinch', however, struggled in both races and had finishes of 20th and 19th, respectively. Hinchcliffe then rebounded to collect his 2nd top ten of the season with a 6th at the Milwaukee Mile. Hinchcliffe was strong for the rest of the year, collecting Rookie of the Year Honors, just beating out Panther Racing's J.R. Hildebrand. However, after the 2011 Indycar season it was announced that Newman/Haas racing would not be returning to Indycar making Hinchcliffe a free agent.

(photo credit: Bryce Womeldurf via photopin)
For the 2012 season, Hinchcliffe replaced Danica Patrick as driver of the Andretti Autosport GoDaddy car, renumbered to #27, the same used by Canadian drivers Gilles Villeneuve and Jacques Villeneuve.

At the 2012 Indianapolis 500, Hinchcliffe qualified 2nd overall while wearing a pair of gloves that belonged to the late Greg Moore, whom Hinchcliffe considers the main reason why he got into racing. On race day, Hinchcliffe overtook pole-sitter Ryan Briscoe on the first lap, and ended up leading five of the 200 laps on his way to a creditable 6th-place finish.

Hinchliffe returned to Andretti for 2013, and started the season by winning the season opener in St. Petersburg, Florida, for his first series victory. Later, in Brazil for the Sao Paulo Indy 300, Hinchcliffe won the race, with a last turn overtake under Takuma Sato.

In the 2014 Grand Prix of Indianapolis, Hinchcliffe was hit by debris, and a CT scan revealed he had suffered a concussion, and needed medical clearance before racing again. Hinchcliffe was cleared to return to racing on May 15 and finished the season at Andretti Autosport.

Hinchcliffe moved to Schmidt Peterson Motorsports in 2015 to replace Simon Pagenaud. He won his first race with the team in the second race of the year in New Orleans. Hinchcliffe sustained serious injuries in a crash during practice for the 2015 Indianapolis 500, on May 18. He remained hospitalized during the race and Ryan Briscoe took Hinchcliffe's position for the race. Briscoe and Conor Daly replaced Hinchcliffe in the car for the remainder of the 2015 season.

On May 22, 2016, Hinchcliffe won the pole position for the 100th running of the Indianapolis 500, just a year after his near-fatal crash at the fabled track.

Saturday, December 03, 2016

Rollie MacDonald "A Maritime Racing Legend" - February 4, 1944

February 4, 1944
Roland (Rollie) MacDonald
"A Maritime Racing Legend"
Born in Pictou, Nova Scotia, Rollie’s love for racing cars and speed has kept him in the racing game for over 40 years. A very popular figure in the world of stock car in the Maritimes, he’s raced on tracks in Canada and the United States against some of the racing world’s toughest competitors, breaking both local and national records and winning numerous races and championships.

As a boy growing up in rural Pictou County, his love for fast cars began when he would race old cars around the fields of the family farm. In 1965, he built his first real race car, a ’55 Pontiac, and started his racing career that year at Mountain Raceway, a dirt track near New Glasgow. From there he went on to race at speedways throughout the Maritime provinces, Quebec and the northeastern United States. He was only injured once, but it was a bad one. He was bedridden for a month in 1977, after hitting the wall while trying for 22 straight victories at his local speedway. 

In 1983 he won the three-province MASCAR championship and was a strong runner in that series for many years afterward. A friend and customer of fellow Maritimer Junior Hanley, MacDonald took a Hanley car to Quebec in 1986 and won the QUASCAR title. MacDonald says his most memorable victory came in 1989 when he won the Nissan 200 International at the newly built Scotia Speedworld near Halifax. In 1994, MacDonald purchased a Busch Grand National car from Jimmy Spencer and raced in the Busch North series. Never content with racing in just one series, he continued to race locally and in selected MASCAR events at the same time. 

In 1998, the successful business as well as sportsman made a major change. He became a part-time driver and a full-time ASA car owner for the late Scott Fraser.
Scott Fraser and Rollie MacDonald pose proudly with the winners trophy at Scotia Speedworld in what would be Scott's last win. For more on Scott Fraser see Canadian Auto Racing Blog; Tribute To Scott Fraser 

Rollie was inducted into the Canadian Motorsports Hall Of Fame in 2004 and the Maritime Motorsports Hall of Fame in 2009.

Friday, December 02, 2016

"Happy Birthday" Peter Lockhart

December 2, 1950   
Peter Lockhart
Home: Unionville, Ontario, Canada.
25 year Canadian road racing veteran and the 1987 Player's Challenge Champion.

Car # 11. Corvette Challenge race. 1989 Toronto Molson Indy.

Thursday, December 01, 2016

Remembering Kathryn "Kat" Teasdale

December 25, 1966 - June 2, 2016
Kathryn "Kat" Teasdale
 Home: Toronto, Ontario, Canada.
A former downhill ski racer, Kathryn discovered a love for automobile racing when a knee injury sidelined her. She started racing in 1988 in Formula Ford 2000 before moving into SCCA and the Players GM Motorsports Series in Canada. She was the 1993 CASCAR Rookie-of-the-Year. She was also the first woman to race in a NASCAR BUSCH Grand National North series. Kat has been involved with numerous other racing series such as IMSA Endurance, Trans Am, Formula Atlantic, Indy Lights & NASCAR Nationwide Series.

She was passionate in her work with children's charities. Kathryn had a successful event-planning business. In recent years, Kathryn was well recognized internationally as a breeder of Wirehaired Pointing Griffons (hunting dogs). She was extremely loving and dedicated to her dogs.

Kathryn died unexpectedly on Thursday, June 2, 2016 after a long struggle with physical and mental health issues. - See more at: Kathryn (Kat) Teasdale: 'The most determined person I ever met’ where Wheels Editor Norris McDonald reminisces about Kathryn.

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

"Happy Birthday" Vic Parsons

November 29, 1939
Vic Parsons

Born in Willowdale, Ontario, Canada. 
Since that maiden voyage at the old Pinecrest Speedway, he’s gone on to win more races and championships than he can count. From the CNE and Pinecrest in Toronto, he’s raced and won at Lansdowne Park in Ottawa, Flat Rock, Mich., Fort Wayne, Ind., Nilestown and Flamborough in Ontario.

Parsons competed in nineteen Winston Cup Series events in his career with seven top-tens. Parsons made his debut in 1972, making the show at North Wilkesboro Speedway with a 19th place qualifying effort. Parsons then survived the tough short track and ended up with a top-10 in his first career race-9th.

Parsons stepped it up to eighteen races in 1973, when he finished 30th in the points standings. Driving for car owner, George Seifer, Parsons recorded an unprecedented six top-tens. That included a career best 7th place in the July race at Daytona. The other top-tens were a trio of ninths and a duo of tenths. However, the news was not all good for Parsons. Even with six top-tens, Parsons' team struggled to finish races. In fact, in eighteen starts, Parsons' team only finished seven of them. This would lead to Parsons not being re-hired for the 1974 season and his permanent departure from the NASCAR scene.

Monday, November 28, 2016

"CMHF Drag Racer & Crew Cheif" Dale Armstrong Dies - November 28, 2014

November 28, 2014
Dale Armstrong, drag racer and crew chief, inducted in to the Canadian Motorsport Hall of Fame in 1995, died at his home in Temecula, California at the age of 73.

 After winning 12 National Hot Rod Association (NHRA) and 12 International Hot Rod Association (IHRA) events in the 1970s, including the Pro Comp title in 1975, he became Kenny Bernstein's crew chief. The combination produced four consecutive national championships in Funny Car (1985 to 1988) and another in Top Fuel. Bernstein became the first driver to top the 300 miles per hour mark in an engine tuned by Armstrong. Armstrong has been inducted in numerous halls of fame.
(photo credit: twm1340 via photopin cc)
Dale Armstrong, in the all red jacket, works his magic for Kenny Bernstein

For more see; Tribute to Dale Armstrong.  

Sunday, November 27, 2016

The Gilles Villeneuve Story - The Early Years

January 18, 1950 - May 8, 1982
Gilles Villeneuve
(Photo: Formula1streaming via photopin cc)
Born in Richelieu, Quebec, Canada.
 Villeneuve grew up in Berthierville, Quebec, Canada. He often claimed to have been born in 1952. By the time he got his break in Formula One, he was already 27 years old and took two years off his age to avoid being considered too old to make it at the highest level of motorsports.

He was born to Séville and Georgette Villeneuve
(Photo credit: ©David Hutson)
Seen here with younger brother Jacques, who also had a successful racing career in Formula Atlantic, Can Am and CART.

Since 1967 he started going steady with Joann Barthe, whom he married in 1970.
(Photo credit: alessio mazzocco via photopin cc) 
Gilles and Joann had two children, Jacques, the future world champion in Formula 1, and Mélanie. During his early career Villeneuve took his young family on the road with him in a transformed old yellow bus, the front half living quarters, and rear half a workshop during the racing season, a habit which he continued to some extent during his Formula One career.

Villeneuve started competitive driving in local drag-racing events, entering his road car, a modified 1967 Ford Mustang. He was soon bored by this and entered the Jim Russell Racing School at Le Circuit Mont Tremblant to gain a racing licence. He then had a very successful season in Quebec regional Formula Ford, running his own two-year-old car and winning seven of the ten races he entered.
(Photo; By John Chapman (Pyrope) (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 or GFDL], via Wikimedia Commons)
Villeneuve's 1973 Magnum MkIII Formula Ford car, with which he won the Quebec Formula Ford championship.

The next year he progressed to Formula Atlantic, competing there for four years, running his own car again for one of those seasons. Money was very tight in Villeneuve's early career. He was a professional racing driver from his late teens, with no other income. In the first few years the bulk of his income actually came from snowmobile racing, where he was extremely successful. He could demand appearance money as well as race money, especially after winning the 1974 World Championship Snowmobile Derby. His second season in Formula Atlantic was part-sponsored by his snowmobile manufacturer, Skiroule. He credited some of his success to his snowmobiling days, "Every winter, you would reckon on three or four big spills, and I'm talking about being thrown on to the ice at 100 miles per hour. Those things used to slide a lot, which taught me a great deal about control. And the visibility was terrible! Unless you were leading, you could see nothing, with all the snow blowing about. Good for the reactions and it stopped me having any worries about racing in the rain". He won his first Atlantic race in 1975 at Gimli Motosport Park in heavy rain.

 In 1976, teamed with Chris Harrison's Ecurie Canada and factory March race engineer Ray Wardell, he dominated the season by winning all but one of the races and taking the US and Canadian titles. He won the Canadian championship again in 1977.

On September 5, 1976, in a non-championship Formula Atlantic race through the streets of Trois Rivieres, Quebec, Gilles Villeneuve driving a March 76B, not only added another win to his belt but he also defeated a brace of F1 drivers led by Alan Jones and defending world champion James Hunt. Both were mightily impressed with Villeneuve's driving and when Hunt got home he raved about Gilles to McLaren bosses Teddy Mayer and Tyler Alexander, and to sponsor Marlboro too. 

Hunt's enthusiasm convinced Mayer and Alexander to give Villeneuve a try and after a fast, spin-filled test he made his F1 debut in the 1977 British GP at Silverstone. A fantastic showing was muffled by a faulty water temperature gauge which forced Villeneuve to make a pitstop. But as fast as he clearly was Teddy Mayer believed Gilles would crash too many cars and the relationship cooled. As the season wore on, Mayer decided to hire Patrick Tambay instead of Villeneuve. 

Meanwhile, back in North America, Gilles's was able to wrap-up the Formula Atlantic  Championship with a win in Quebec City. The next day Gilles and his manager flew to Italy to sign a two-year contract with Ferrari and two weeks later he would make his Ferrari debut in the Canadian GP at Mosport. Villeneuve retired from the race after sliding off the track on another competitor's oil.

Villeneuve later remarked that: "If someone said to me that you can have three wishes, my first would have been to get into racing, my second to be in Formula 1, my third to drive for Ferrari."

Continued;The Gilles Villeneuve Story - Home Hero And Legend Arrives 

Villeneuve A Racing Legend
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The Gilles Villeneuve Story - Home Hero And Legend Arrives

October 8, 1978

Gilles Villeneuve celebrated his first victory in Formula 1 before a home crowd at the Canadian Grand Prix in Montreal on October 8, 1978.

The 1978 season saw a succession of retirements for Villeneuve, often after problems with the new Michelin radial tyres. Early in the season, he started on the front row at the United States Grand Prix West, but crashed out of the lead on lap 39. Despite calls in the Italian press for him to be replaced, Ferrari persisted with him. Towards the end of the season, Villeneuve's results improved. He finished second on the road at the Italian Grand Prix, although he was penalised a minute for jumping the start, and ran second at the United States Grand Prix before his engine failed. Finally at the season-ending Canadian Grand Prix, Villeneuve scored his first Grand Prix win.

The Canadian Grand Prix has been part of the Formula One World Championship since 1967. It was first staged at Mosport Park in Bowmanville, Ontario as a sports car event before it alternated between Mosport and Circuit Mont-Tremblant, Quebec after Formula One took over the event. After 1971, safety concerns led to the Grand Prix moving permanently to Mosport. In 1978, after similar safety concerns with Mosport, the Canadian Grand Prix moved to its current home on Île Notre-Dame in Montreal. Before the race, in pre-race interviews Mario Andretti noted that he thought that the circuit has been designed in favour of Gilles Villeneuve, a comment that was picked up by local press. Andretti responded to the comments on race day morning, stating that he is "not critical of the race organizers", but instead "critical of our own FOCA officials who were sent over here to approve the track".
(Photo: Archives de la Ville de Montréal via photopin cc)
Poor weather and rain on Friday morning meant that the first practice session began 20 minutes later than scheduled. When the session did start, the two Ferrari drivers were fastest, Carlos Reutemann fastest with a lap of 2:02.600, ahead of team-mate Villeneuve.
The second practice session held on Friday was in damp weather conditions as the track dried, with Reutemann again fastest, with a lap of 1:57.900. Wet weather greeted the teams again on Saturday morning for a 90 minute practice session, although conditions got better towards the end of that session, allowing Lauda to go fastest with a time of 1:51.700, Keke Rosberg, Andretti and Watson completing the top four.

The entry of 28 cars had to be trimmed to 22 before the race, and those who failed to qualify were, unusually, from six different teams. They were Clay Regazzoni of Shadow, Beppe Gabbiani of Surtees, Arturo Merzario in the car bearing his name, Hector Rebaque in a privately run Lotus, Rolf Stommelen of Arrows and Michael Bleekemolen of ATS.

There were uncharacteristically bad performances from Reutemann, who took third in the championship with Ferrari, but could only qualify 11th, and the Tyrrells of Patrick Depailler and Didier Pironi, both also regular points scorers but down in 13th and 18th. Piquet was 14th on his debut for Brabham.

The top ten was just as interesting as the bottom six, as eight different cars were featured. Jacques Laffite was the lowest ranked of these, putting his Ligier 10th. World champion Andretti was also off the pace for Lotus, qualifying 9th. Hans Joachim Stuck drove very well to put the other Shadow 8th, beating his more decorated team mate Regazzoni by over two and a half seconds. Brabham, one of only two teams to have two cars in the top 10 (the other was Lotus), had Watson and Lauda 4th and 7th. They were split by Alan Jones's Williams, a sign of continuing improvement for the team and their Australian driver, who had finished 2nd the last time out at Watkins Glen, and Emerson Fittipaldi, who dragged the uncompetitive Copersucar up to 6th.
(Photo: Archives de la Ville de Montréal via photopin cc)
Home favourite Villeneuve put the Ferrari 3rd, a good performance from the Canadian who had been outperformed by team mate Reutemann all season. He was beaten to 2nd by Jody Scheckter of Wolf, who had also been improving of late. However, pole was a surprise. Jean-Pierre Jarier, who had fallen out of favour with ATS earlier in the season and been dropped in favour of drivers such as Alberto Colombo, Hans Binder and Harald Ertl, had last been semi-competitive with Shadow back in 1975 and had been drafted in by Lotus to replace Ronnie Peterson after his tragic death at Monza two races previous, took pole by just 0.011 seconds from Scheckter. This was no surprise after the Frenchman had set the fastest race lap in his first appearance for the team at Watkins Glen, but was classified 15th due to running out of fuel when in 3rd place.

The race started with Jarier in the lead, but Jones had a magnificent start, jumping up from 5th to 2nd. This meant that Scheckter dropped to 3rd, Villeneuve to 4th and Watson down to 5th. Andretti had jumped up past Lauda and Stuck and was holding 6th. Fittipaldi was a casualty on the first lap, sliding off the track into the mud and retiring. Stuck joined him at the same spot a lap later. There was more drama in the race on lap 6, particularly for the Brabham team. First, Lauda had a brake failure and was out. Shortly afterwards, Andretti attempted to pass Watson in the other Brabham, and the two made contact, dropping almost right to the back of the field. This allowed Patrick Depailler up to 5th and Reutemann in the other Ferrari into 6th. Three laps later, Watson had an accident of his own, and was out for good. The next retirement was on lap 17, when Bobby Rahal in the second Wolf suffered fuel injection problems and reduced the field to 17 runners.

Jarier had opened up a lead of 20 seconds at this point, as Jones in second was holding up the faster cars of Scheckter and Villeneuve behind him. However, on lap 18 Scheckter found a way past, and Villeneuve followed him through a lap later. At the same time, Depailler was dropping down the order with technical issues, allowing Reutemann into 5th and Derek Daly in the Ensign up to 6th. Daly was passed by Riccardo Patrese not long afterwards. A good few laps ensued for Ferrari, as the very fast Villeneuve fought his way past Scheckter, who everyone knew was to be his team mate at Ferrari in 1979, for 2nd on lap 25. On lap 27, current team mate Reutemann battled past the slow Jones into fourth. Jones also slipped behind Patrese two laps later. Daly moved back up to 6th on lap 33 when Jones dropped back even further with his own technical problems, but the Irishman was under severe pressure from Didier Pironi in the other Tyrrell. Lap 38 saw another retirement, that of René Arnoux in the Surtees with oil pressure difficulties.

The recovering Depailler fought his way past first team mate Pironi and then Derek Daly to take back 6th place on laps 47 and 48, just when trouble was beginning for fellow Frenchman Jean-Pierre Jarier, leading the race for Lotus, which first became apparent when Jacques Laffite was able to unlap himself in the Ligier. Three laps later, Jarier was out with no oil pressure. This was tragic for the Frenchman, who was looking certain to take his first victory, but fantastic for the Canadian fans, whose hero Villeneuve now looked set to take his. This allowed Daly back into the points in 6th. 1976 World Champion James Hunt crashed out two laps later, an unhappy end to his last race for McLaren, with whom he had had so much success, as it was known that the following year he would move to Wolf to replace Scheckter. He was followed out of the race by Laffite's Ligier a lap later, who had transmission problems.

From then on, the order did not change, and Villeneuve came home to take his first Grand Prix victory in front of his own fans.
Villeneuve was killed in 1982 on his final qualifying lap for the Belgian Grand Prix. A few weeks after his death, the race course in Montreal was renamed Circuit Gilles Villeneuve after him. And so far Gilles Villeneuve, is the only Canadian winner of the Formula One Canadian Grand Prix.

The Gilles Villeneuve Story - The Tragedy

May 8, 1982
Gilles Villeneuve
(Photo credit: jamia54 via photopin cc)
The first few races of the 1982 season were promising. Villeneuve led in Brazil in the new 126C2, before spinning into retirement, and finished third at the United States Grand Prix West although he was later disqualified for a technical infringement. The Ferraris were handed an unexpected advantage at the San Marino Grand Prix as an escalation of the FISA-FOCA war saw the FOCA teams boycott the race, effectively leaving Renault as Ferrari's only serious opposition. With Renault driver Prost retiring from fourth place on lap 7 followed by his teammate Arnoux on the 44th lap Ferrari seemed to have the win guaranteed. 

In order to conserve fuel and ensure the cars finished the Ferrari team ordered both drivers to slow down. Villeneuve believed that the order also meant that the drivers were to maintain position but teammate Didier Pironi passed Villeneuve. A few laps later Villeneuve re-passed Pironi and slowed down again, believing that Pironi was simply trying to entertain the Italian crowd. On the last lap Pironi passed and aggressively chopped across the front of Gilles in Villeneuve corner and took the win. Villeneuve was irate as he believed that Pironi had disobeyed the order to hold position. Meanwhile Pironi claimed that he had done nothing wrong as the team had only ordered the cars to slow down, not maintain position. Villeneuve stated after the race "I think it is well known that if I want someone to stay behind me and I am faster, then he stays behind me." Feeling betrayed and angry Villeneuve vowed never to speak to Pironi again.

On May 8, 1982, during the final qualifying session for the Belgian Grand Prix at Zolder, Pironi had set a time 0.1s faster than Villeneuve for sixth place. Villeneuve return to the track on his final set of qualifying tyres, some say he was attempting to improve his time on his final lap, while others suggest he was specifically aiming to beat Pironi. 

With eight minutes of the session left, Villeneuve came over the rise after the first chicane and caught Jochen Mass travelling much more slowly through Butte, the left-handed bend before the Terlamenbocht double right-hand section. Mass saw Villeneuve approaching at high speed and moved to the right to let him through on the racing line. At the same instant Villeneuve also moved right to pass the slower car. The Ferrari hit the back of Mass' car and was launched into the air at a speed estimated at 200–225 km/h (120–140 mph). It was airborne for more than 100 m before nosediving into the ground and disintegrating as it somersaulted along the edge of the track. Villeneuve, still strapped to his seat, but without his helmet, was thrown a further 50 m from the wreckage into the catch fencing on the outside edge of the Terlamenbocht corner.

Several drivers stopped and rushed to the scene. John Watson and Derek Warwick pulled Villeneuve, his face blue, from the catch fence. The first doctor arrived within 35 seconds to find that Villeneuve was not breathing, although his pulse continued; he was intubated and ventilated before being transferred to the circuit medical centre and then by helicopter to University St Raphael Hospital where a fatal fracture of the neck was diagnosed. Villeneuve was kept alive on life support while his wife travelled to the hospital and the doctors consulted with specialists worldwide. At 9:12 that evening, racing lost a legend.

Continued; The Gilles Villeneuve Story - The Legacy

Villeneuve A Racing Legend
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The Gilles Villeneuve Story - The Legacy

January 18, 1950 - May 8, 1982
Gilles Villeneuve
(photo credit: IDR via photopin cc) 
At the funeral in Berthierville former teammate Jody Scheckter delivered a simple eulogy: "I will miss Gilles for two reasons. First, he was the fastest driver in the history of motor racing. Second, he was the most genuine man I have ever known. But he has not gone. The memory of what he has done, what he achieved, will always be there."
Villeneuve is still remembered at Grand Prix races, especially those in Italy. At the Autodromo Enzo e Dino Ferrari, the venue of the San Marino Grand Prix, a corner was named after him and a Canadian flag is painted on the third slot on the starting grid, from which he started his last race. There is also a bronze bust of him at the entrance to the Ferrari test track at Fiorano. At Zolder the corner where Villeneuve died has been turned into a chicane and named after him.

Among all the pilots who gave their lives for the glory of the Scuderia, Gilles is the only one who had the honour of a memorial.

The racetrack on Île Notre-Dame, Montreal, host to the Formula One Canadian Grand Prix and NASCAR Nationwide Series, was named Circuit Gilles Villeneuve in his honour at the Canadian Grand Prix of 1982.
(photo credit: Christopher Neugebauervia)
 "Salut Gilles" sign at the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve start-finish line

In Berthierville a museum was opened in 1992 and a lifelike statue stands in a nearby park which was also named in his honour.

In June 1997 Canada also issued a postage stamp in his honour.

 There is still a huge demand for Villeneuve memorabilia at the race-track shops and several books have been written about him. The number 27, the number of his Ferrari in 1981 and 1982, is still closely associated with him by fans. Jean Alesi, whose aggression and speed in the wet were compared to Villeneuve's, also used the number at Ferrari. Villeneuve's son, Jacques, drove the #27 during his IndyCar and Indianapolis 500 winning season with Barry Green and has also used the number for occasional drives in NASCAR and the Speedcar Series. Canadian driver and 2011 IndyCar Rookie of the Year James Hinchcliffe adopted the number 27 for the 2012 season.

A film based on the biography by Gerald Donaldson was announced in 2005, intended for release in 2007, but as of 2014 has not emerged.

Villeneuve was inducted into the Canadian Motorsport Hall of Fame at their inaugural induction ceremony at the Four Seasons Hotel, Toronto, Ontario on August 19, 1993.

For more driver tribute and stories visit our home page

Formula 1 - A Tribute to Gilles Villeneuve - YouTube