Villeneuve won six Formula One races

It was on this day in 1978 that auto racing legend Gilles Villeneuve claimed his First Formula One race at the Montréal Grand Prix, in Montréal, Québec.

Born January 18, 1950, in Richelieu, Québec, Villeneuve grew up in Berthierville; and was killed in a 250 kph crash at Zolder, Belgium, while practicing for the Belgian Grand Prix on May 8 1982.

Villeneuve was six times Formula One Grand Prix champion. He began racing in snowmobiles, and in 1974 won the world championship. He entered his first auto race in 1973 and by 1976 dominated the Formula Atlantic series, winning nine out of 10 races. In 1977, he signed with McLaren to drive Formula One, later switching to Ferrari. In 1978, Villeneuve won the Canadian Grand Prix in Montréal, a first by a Canadian driver.

In 1979 he won at Kyalami, Long Beach (first pole position), and Watkins Glen and finished second in the Canadian Grand Prix. Villeneuve ws runner-up to teammate Jody Scheckter as the F1 leader.

Villeneuve won six of the 67 races he drove for Ferrari, scoring two pole positions and eight fastest laps. His son, Jacques Villeneuve, is also a race driver.

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.”

gilles-villeneuveIn June 1997, Canada issued a postage stamp in honor of its favorite racing son.



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