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July 2017 Pit Signals

The July 2017 edition of VARAC Pit Signals by Jeremy Sale has been released!

Click here to download your personal copy.

VARAC Pit Signals

The Special VARAC Vintage Grand Prix edition features this month include:

  • Celebrating 1967, The Summer of Love
  • Excerpts from the Formula Junior Newsletter
  • Highlights from David Clubine
  • McGregor Spirit of Sportsmanship Award
  • Ron Fellows and the Gilles Villeneuve Ferrari
  • The Spirit of Vintage Racing – Phil Lamont
  • Honorary Membership Award – John Dodd
  • Tony Simms Award – Nick Pratt
  • Luce Suit!
  • Legends of Motorsports
  • Toyo Tires F1600 Series Race
  • Photos, Personal Highlights and More!

2017 VARAC Vintage Grand Prix

The VARAC Vintage Grand Prix is honoured to have to so many photographers clicking their shutters at VARAC’s annual event.

Below is a growing list of photography links we have assembled from the 2017 VARAC Vintage Grand Prix.  Please be sure to contact the photographers if use of their photos is desired.

If you have photos you’d like to add to the collection, please contact Ted Michalos

Full coverage of the event was captured by Giancarlo Pawelec

Joann Villeneuve Reunited With Gilles Villeneuve’s Ferrari Formula 1 Car

This fantastic article is written by Michael Taylor and posted on Trackworthy on June 25, 2017.  Original link is HERE.

PHOTOGRAPHS and VIDEOS © Copyright 2017 TrackWorthy Group Ltd.

Joann Villeneuve, wife of the late great Formula 1 legend Gilles Villeneuve and mother of Canada’s only Formula 1 Champion, Jacques Villeneuve, recently took a trip down memory lane. She attended the VARAC (Vintage Automobile Racing Association of Canada) Vintage Grand Prix held at Canadian Tire Motorsport Park.

Amongst the historic racing series that comprised the weekend’s activities was the FIA Masters Historic Formula One series. The Masters USA provides a venue for classic Formula 1 car owners to compete against each other at world class race circuits in Canada, the United States and Mexico. The series is largely comprised of Formula 1 cars from 1966 through 1985. Not only do these cars sound great, but they are also beautiful to behold, as they must run in their correct period livery.

 

Participating in the Masters USA this year were cars from constructors that includes such famous names as Williams, McLaren and Lotus. Of particular note was a very special 1979 Ferrari: a 312T4 with a 3-litre flat 12 cylinder 500 hp engine, a manual 5-speed gearbox, and its former driver Gilles Villeneuve’s name on the side.

TrackWorthy - Joann Villeneuve waving the green flag (5)

Joann Villeneuve waving the green flag to start the race

Joann Villeneuve and Canadian Motorsport Hall of Fame inductee Eppie Wietzes were the Grand Marshals. Joann’s duties included signing enthusiastic fans’ memorabilia at an autograph session, waving the green flag from atop the starter’s stand to start the race, and presenting the trophies at the victory podium. But the highlights of her day were seeing and hearing her late husband’s car out on the track again, and, for the first time in her life, sitting in one of Gilles Villeneuve’s Formula 1 cars.

 

“The emotion of sitting in Gilles’ car, that was really something special,” said Joann Villeneuve. “Every now and then something happens like that, and you do not expect that rush of emotions. And all of a sudden, there they are. I was not expecting that. I also felt that when I was waving the green flag and I was watching (Gilles’) car go by. Just to see and hear the car go by and you say ‘this was my husband’s car, he sat in this car’. And then when I sat in the car and touched the steering wheel that he touched. You think you have put those emotions aside and away, but they are still there. It was a lot of emotions today. It really was nice.”

TrackWorthy - Joann Villeneuve sitting in her husband’s F1 car for the first time (4)

Joann Villeneuve sitting in her husband’s F1 car for the first time

“To see how much the man I loved touched so many people,” said Joann. “Obviously he touched me, he was the man of my life, the love of my life, but to see that he touched so many people, for some reason, Gilles touched them more than other drivers. That’s pretty special.”

This Gilles Villeneuve F1 car is owned by the Baker family and is part of a collection in Sun Valley, Idaho. The owner’s son, Californian Danny Baker, drives the car. Danny’s father had the opportunity to buy the Ferrari 15 years ago from the Jacobazzi family who had previously acquired it directly from Ferrari.

“I have the racer mentality so I want it to go quick and I want to compete with it and yet I have to respect it as much as possible,” said Danny Baker. “I got into a tussle (on the track) with a guy and he managed to get into me today. He gave me a little bump and I made sure he knew it was not appreciated. It is really fun to run out here and it is great to see everyone go just crazy for the car.” During every lap of the track Danny could see appreciative spectators taking photographs of the car and waving him on.

TrackWorthy - Danny Baker (3)

Danny Baker (R)

Of the 16 Formula 1 cars participating in the races, Danny finished 3rd in class in the first race and 4th in class in the second race. He was very happy to have been able to complete every lap of every session. It is a surprisingly reliable car but it takes a great deal of time, and money, to keep running properly.

Also on hand was Canadian Motorsport Hall of Fame inductee Ron Fellows, one of the owners of Canadian Tire Motorsport Park. Ron is one of Canada’s most successful race car drivers, winning in series from NASCAR to the 24 Hours of Le Mans and the 24 Hours of Daytona. But Ron never raced in Formula 1. “Surreal, magic and exhilarating,” was how Ron described what it was like to sit in Gilles’ car.

“It wasn’t on my bucket list because I would never think to put it on, but when Danny (Baker) confirmed that he was going to bring the car, that’s all I wanted to do, was sit in it,” Ron went on to say. “A big thank you to Danny baker, he was not planning on coming here after the Montreal race, but I kept on him, for five days, twice a day, phone calls, text messages, and he finally agreed to come. It was absolutely magic to have it here.”

TrackWorthy - Ron Fellows

Ron Fellows

When asked if he could imagine racing one of these cars, Ron shared his admiration of the “…incredible skill and bravery they had to drive those cars. The bodywork gives you a false sense of security, the tub of the car is basically at your hips. They are spectacular cars, it’s an era that I grew up watching, as a kid and a young man I idolized Gilles along with millions of others. To have Joann here and then to actually get to park my butt in it was incredibly special. I will treasure that for as long as I live.”

To reunite Joann with Gilles Villeneuve’s Ferrari Formula 1 car was the icing on the cake of what was a very successful VARAC Vintage Grand Prix weekend at Canadian Tire Motorsport Park (or Mosport as it is fondly referred to).

 

Historic Formula One to Run at the 2017 VARAC Vintage Grand Prix

Toronto, ON (February 10, 2017) – the Masters Historic Racing Series confirmed today that they will be joining the event roster at the VARAC Vintage Grand Prix held at Canadian Tire Motorsport Park from June 15 to 18, 2017.

This series races 1966 thru 1985 Formula One cars – the classics that we all love from the golden era of Formula One.

The cars will pack up up as soon as they finish running the Canadian F1 Grand Prix in the Montreal and bring them to the Canadian Tire Motorsport Park for the VARAC Vintage Grand Prix.  The Formula One cars will run a practice session on Thursday, a practice and then a qualifying session on Friday, and two races on Saturday.

More information on the 2017 VARAC Vintage Grand Prix available here.

About Masters Historic Racing: Established in 2004 with its trademark Formula One Series, Masters is now the leading organiser and promoter of international historic motor racing. Based in the UK and North America with a dedicated team, Masters aims to provide customers with great racing at superb circuits with a wonderful atmosphere.

 

Related Articles

F1 Cars Returning to Old Mosport, featured in Norris McDonald’s Toronto Star Racing Roundup column

Rich Heritage for Canada in Formula 1 Racing, by Norris McDonald

 

Photo by Hugh Hawley