Jacques & Joann Villeneuve at this afternoon's Canadian International Auto Show 50 Years of Grand Prix Racing In Canada event.
By: Canadians International Auto Show
February 15 2017
AutoShow Celebrates 50 Years of Grand Prix Racing in Canada
Toronto, Ontario – Racing legend Jacques Villeneuve, the only Canadian driver to ever win the Formula 1 World Championship, today helped the Canadian International AutoShow launch an exhibit celebrating Canada’s rich history of Grand Prix racing over the past 50 years.
Villeneuve, who earned the F1 crown in 1997 when he won the European Grand Prix in Jerez, Spain, was joined mother Joann and sister Melanie at a reception Wednesday to kick off the AutoShow’s “50 Years of Grand Prix in Canada” feature prior to its public opening on Friday, Feb. 17th.
The Villeneuve family was joined on stage by nearly two dozen major players who have shaped Grand Prix racing in Canada over the past five decades, as well as a number of former Canadian racecar drivers.
Surrounded by Grand Prix memorabilia — including two cars that belonged to his famous racing father, Gilles — Villeneuve told the large audience of media and guests that he vividly remembers the day he made history by edging past German superstar Michael Schumacher to win the F1 Championship.
“He didn’t expect it. I can still see he face. I can still see his sweat. He was a driver who didn’t sweat, except for that day,” he said. “It ended up being a fairytale.”
The AutoShow showcase of Grand Prix memorabilia, imagery and iconic cars includes many fascinating and important pieces from the Villeneuve clan’s storied racing history. The centerpiece of this special exhibit is a 1978 Ferrari driven by Jacques’ late father, on loan from Ferrari of Ontario, and the 1997 Williams driven by Jacques when he won the F1 Championship crown. It is the first time the car has been in North America since that 1997 season (it normally resides at the Williams Historic Museum in the UK), and still has on it the tire mark from where Schumacher tried to run him off the track in that final race.
A 1991 Benetton driven by the German star — a seven-time Canadian Grand Prix Champ — is on display, one of two cars on loan from the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Museum for the exhibit.
A newly refurbished 1971 Boss Mustang complete still with Monaco plates – only the second car ever owned by Gilles Villeneuve – is being displayed for the very first time courtesy of Headrush Motors and Gilles’ widow, Joann. This car was one of Gilles’ first personal cars as his motor racing career started to take off, and helped cement his love and association with Ford products before he became a Ferrari icon.
Furthermore, two of Canada’s historic Grand Prix venues – Canadian Tire Motorsport Park and the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve – will be present showcasing some fascinating documentaries from those very first races, and offering Show goers opportunities to win race tickets, including a pair of grandstand tickets to the 2017 Canadian Grand Prix to be given away at each day of the Show.
Other cars featured in 50 Years of Grand Prix in Canada, include:
A 1961 Cooper Climax T55 driven by Bruce McLaren
A 1974 Parnelli driven by Mario Andretti
A 1978 Walter Wolf WR6 driven by Jody Scheckter
A 1987 Lotus 99T/5 driven by Ayrton Senna, and
A 1990 Ferrari 641 driven by Nigel Mansell
“Canada has had one of the best Grand Prix races on the Formula 1 circuit for half a century. We were incredibly pleased that so many people who played important roles in shaping Grand Prix racing in Canada came together to help us celebrate this milestone,” says Jason Campbell, General Manager of the AutoShow.
The Vileneuve clan’s enormous contribution to racing will soon be in the spotlight at a new venue. The Villeneuve Automotive Museum is currently being developed in Montreal and is expected to be operational in approximately one year, said Michel Lamoureux, the museum’s founding CEO.
The Canadian International AutoShow will be held at the Metro Toronto Convention Centre between February 17th and 26th. Please visit autoshow.ca for more information. Follow us on Instagram @cdnintlautoshow, chat with us on Snapchat at autoshowcanada, Like us on Facebook and join the conversation on Twitter @autoshowcanada with the hashtags #AutoShowOhCanada and #CIAS2017.
About the Canadian International AutoShow
With more than 650,000 square feet of exhibits, displays and attractions at the Metro Toronto Convention Centre, the Canadian International AutoShow is not only the largest automotive expo in Canada, it is also the country’s largest consumer show — a leader in lifestyle, technology and all things automotive. Boasting more than 1,000 cars, trucks, SUVs, concept cars, exotics, classics, muscle cars, fully electric and autonomous vehicles, the 2017 AutoShow is helping celebrate Canada’s 150th birthday by showcasing Canadian collectors in each feature of the show. For more information or to buy tickets, please visit www.autoshow.ca.