May 08, 2007

Twenty five years ago today: arguably Canada's greatest ever racing driver, Gilles Villeneuve, was killed during qualifying for the Belgian Grand Prix at Zolder. In the final moments of qualifying, he came up behind Jochen Mass. Mass moved offline of the way. Sadly Villeneuve moved in the same direction, the cars touched, launching Villeneuve's Ferrari into a ferocious accident. Villeneuve died later that day from his injuries. Salut, Gilles.

posted by Drood to auto racing at 02:45 PM - 8 comments

I was 9, and I remember very vividly where I was when Christian Tortora came on air to announce Gilles had suffered a very serious accident. Salut, Gilles!

posted by qbert72 at 03:49 PM on May 08, 2007

Some of the finest racing ever there. Those were the days... I posted this story because I'm in Canada, and utterly disgusted that there is NOT ONE THING on TV about Gilles to commemorate the anniversary. I mean the other networks, desperate to be NBC etc... Not surprised, but I figured CBC would show something, but nope...

posted by Drood at 04:28 PM on May 08, 2007

It has been all over the radio and newspapers in Montreal, but he's considered a local hero here, so it's not surprising. The most amazing thing about Gilles is that although his numbers - no world championships, only 7 career wins, etc. - are not great, I have read and heard many many driver laud him as one of the greatest of all time. And going back and seeing the footage of him - driving a full ground-effects car and locking the brakes and drifting around the corners like some kind of dirt-track driver (or snowmobiler!) is just amazing.

posted by mikelbyl at 05:14 PM on May 08, 2007

He was amazing, and as one of the articles on the page I linked too says, the numbers don't tell the full story. Montreal actually treats his legacy with respect. That does not surprise me in the slightest. I've always got the impression that Montreal is proud of their native son (and his son). Maybe Jacques can stand atop the Le Mans podium in a few weeks time. That would be awesome.

posted by Drood at 07:28 PM on May 08, 2007

Le Journal de Montréal was able to get Jacques to say he "owes everything" to his father during the recent media rush. Jacques had always refused to discuss his father with the media. Also, Joann was on SRC's (French CBC) big Sunday night talk show last week. Here is an online special from La Presse, the other big French daily. The first slideshow (with French narration) even has a picture of Gilles in snowmobile competition. So yes, Montréal acknowledges the legacy.

posted by qbert72 at 08:42 PM on May 08, 2007

And the rest of Canada doesn't give a damn.:(

posted by Drood at 05:04 PM on May 09, 2007

And the rest of Canada doesn't give a damn.:( That's not true, I give a damn, and I live in Southwestern Ontario. I think all auto racing fans who are old enough to remember Gilles remember and respect what he did for racing in this country.

posted by tommybiden at 10:27 PM on May 09, 2007

And the rest of Canada doesn't give a damn.:( I'm not so sure that because we don't have a day-off work, speeches and a movie of the week means we don't give a damn. Sure we do, but it happened 25 years ago. Pretty unfair to suggest that the rest of Canada should care like you do.

posted by WeedyMcSmokey at 08:26 AM on May 10, 2007

You're not logged in. Please log in or register.