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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!

Shellbourne Fuels Announces New VARAC Fuel Pricing Program

VARAC Racers will benefit from a new FUEL PRICING PROGRAM according to John Shane, President of Shellbourne Fuels. He says: “Shellbourne Fuels is very proud and pleased to support VARAC and Vintage Racing to the best of our ability. We supply the very best racing fuel blends for vintage performance engines as well as our EXTREME Enhancers and lubricants. Our goal is to ensure that VARAC racers have the best products available to deliver performance and reliability.”



The new pricing program applies to racing fuels and has been worked out with Shellbourne’s Regional Distributor, Bob DeShane of BRITSPEED Special Tuning in order to meet the fuel needs of VARAC racers through a new VARAC Fuel Pricing Schedule that includes lower, more competitive pricing.

DeShane says: “Having been a VARAC racer, I know all about the expenses that come with the sport. Now that I am representing Shellbourne Fuels, I wanted to find a way to lower that cost and make it easier on the racers. I also wanted to be in a position to offer fuel advice. Fuels are such an important element of racing and yet many don’t realize the performance potential of their cars because they use an incorrect fuel. But, performance is what racing is all about. Engine reliability can also be easily compromised by making the wrong choice and that’s when things get expensive.”

Most VARAC racers choose to purchase fuel in twenty-litre containers.  The new Shellbourne Fuel Pricing Program is designed to benefit those customers.  It will involve a “Container Exchange Program” where the racer will be required to have sufficient  Shellbourne branded containers to meet their fuel usage requirements as well as exchange containers. For instance, if a racer requires two 20 litre containers of fuel for a weekend of racing, Britspeed will provide those. In preparation for the next weekend of racing, the racer will exchange the two empty containers for two full containers. Britspeed will label all containers with the driver’s name and fuel blend (eg. D. Smith, 110 Leaded) and this will ensure that the racer always has the right stuff.

This system will enable us to offer fuel at lower prices and it will eliminate the build-up of used containers in the racer’s trailer or garage. To qualify for the lower prices of the new Program customers will need to have sufficient “Approved Shellbourne Fuel Containers”. New customers will be required to make their initial purchases at the regular price. The regular price includes the container. Established customers will very likely have enough containers on hand. We will even buy back clean surplus containers at $10 each.  

For more information, please call Bob DeShane at 705-878-5422 or email britspeed@mowoguniversity.com

Refer to the website for more details.

Shellbourne Fuels and BRITSPEED Announce VARAC Contingency Program

John Shane, President of Shellbourne Fuels and Shellbourne Fuels Regional Distributor, Bob DeShane of BRITSPEED have announced a new Contingency Award Program for VARAC Racers.


The new Contingency Program has received the approval of VARAC and is offered to VARAC Racers who are customers of Shellbourne Racing Fuels. Rather than awarding contingency prizes for place finishes as is customary, Shellbourne Fuels’ new VARAC Contingency Program will ensure that all qualifying drivers will have a chance at being drawn to win.

John Shane said; “This is our way of supporting our valued customers in VARAC racing. We think that it is a fun way to give back because it gives all program participants an equal opportunity at being drawn and it does not rely on a place finish. Together with our new, just announced, VARAC Racing Fuel Pricing Program, we are extending our support for VARAC racers even further.”

Contingency Program Description:

  • The program will offer cash-value rewards in redeemable certificates
  • Shellbourne Fuels and Britspeed will provide Contingency Awards to VARAC Members in good standing who run Shellbourne Racing Fuels and/or Shellbourne EXTREME Fuel Enhancers
  • Registration for the Program is required
  • Registrants will supply car and driver information and agree to placing Shellbourne and Britspeed decals on their Race Car(s) when rules allow and in all cases, on their Race Transporter

How the Shellbourne Fuels/VARAC Racers Contingency Program Works:

  • A draw will be made for each Saturday and for each Sunday of every event on the VARAC Schedule
  • Each draw will produce three redeemable certificates in the amounts of $50, $30 and $20 by the order in which they are drawn
  • Draw recipients may redeem the certificates when purchasing any Shellbourne Product for competition or personal use
  • The certificates may be used in multiples and may be transferred

 

For more information and to register for the Contingency Program, please call Bob DeShane at 705-878-5422 or email britspeed@mowoguniversity.com

Refer to the website for more details.

Joe Lightfoot’s Field of Dreams

This story was written by Paul Williams and was posted on www.GoneDriving.ca (it has been re-posted with permission, the original link is here.)

The story of Joe Lightfoot’s British car adventure goes back many years. It begins in the early 1960s with a teenaged Joe motoring around in the family’s diminutive Austin A30 sedan. This was a time when British cars like Austin, Morris, Vauxhall and Hillman were a common sight on Canadian roads, and while Joe also liked Studebakers, Packards and Flathead Fords, he retained a soft spot for British imports.

As an adult Joe got busy building Lightfoot Antenna, his company that installed tower-mounted television antennas to rural customers mostly in Ontario’s Prince Edward County where he still lives. But he was always a car guy, and that meant he was a regular reader of the now-defunct Old Car Trader, published monthly by Auto Trader. Twelve times a year in the Old Car Trader you’d find all kinds of classic cars listed by province from Nova Scotia to British Columbia, so for $2.95 readers could embark on a monthly cross-country collector-car tour as they turned each issue’s nearly 300 pages.

Joe was doing just that when he happened upon an Austin A30 for sale in St. John, New Brunswick, and that is how the adventure started.

Ahhh, the old family car. Nostalgia struck and Joe was powerless to ignore the A30’s charms. Sure, he wanted to see it, but this is very much pre-Internet, right? Back then, even the idea that a person in Ontario would, sight unseen, buy a car located in New Brunswick was pretty unusual. You’d have to be really motivated, which Joe found he really was.

“Drive it away!” read the encouraging advertisement. But prudently Joe set out with a buddy and a trailer attached to a 1983 Ford pickup. Driving 16 hours straight through he was greeted by an A30 without a carburetor or spark plugs, so he couldn’t start it. But he was there now and the car was indeed in awesome shape, according to Joe. So he bought it anyway.

After getting the A30 to Ontario Joe realized that parts for it were not exactly plentiful anymore, and that he’d surely need some. The antenna business got him all over eastern Ontario and now that he was looking, he soon found a couple of A40s which he bought, and then came the flash of inspiration, the life-changing decision. He’d acquire an example of each Austin model exported to Canada. That would mean mostly family cars; models like the A30, A35, A40 Devon and Somerset, A40 Convertible, Cambridge, Westminster, Gipsy, Mini, Marina, Commer commercial, 1100 and 1800, and maybe a few variations like the Healey Sprite and America.

So now Joe was a man on a mission, and some years later he’d pretty much achieved his goal, at one point owning 12 Austins, all drivers and licensed for the road.

However, he also had a growing collection of unlicensed vehicles representing not only Austin, but also most of the other British marques. What happened was that while hunting for Austins, these other British cars presented themselves (or were presented to him) and Joe started picking them up as well. Eventually, he got proactive and placed advertisements in local publications. Penned by Joe, they read: “Wanted: old British cars in neglected or respected condition.” Unlike most people obsessed with cars (be careful what you wish for…), Joe actually had a place to put them on his acreage in “the county.”

His collection, therefore, continued to expand, becoming not only a historical record of British cars owned by the local population, but also of the British car industry in what was arguably its heyday. In the process, Joe Lightfoot became “Austin” Joe, known and liked by many, understood by a select few.

But this was Joe, not Jay, and most of the cars were very much of the neglected variety, which Joe dutifully “saved” by hauling them back to join the others on his property. He’d typically pick them up for maybe $125.00, which in case you were wondering, explains why no Austin Healeys were represented in his collection (big Healeys always had serious value, and weren’t neglected for long).

Still, what for Joe was a surely an enjoyable, if somewhat consuming pastime, for others was a bit mystifying. The collection was fascinating to explore, for sure, but also kind of sad, as the vehicles were stored outdoors and predictably succumbed to exposure as the years passed. Their deteriorating condition would add a note of poignancy to any visit.

After becoming the owner of a 1960 Morris Minor in the early 1990s, I first met Joe at one of the annual VARAC vintage race weekends then held at the track in Shannonville. He was also a regular at the annual Boot ‘n Bonnet British car show in Kingston every August. You’d often see him in his A30 (the Austin equivalent to the Minor), which was the very car he bought in New Brunswick. I remember asking what his plans were for the collection, which would grow to about 80 vehicles. He mused on the possibility of an Austin museum, which I, for one, would have been keen to visit. Joe may not have been serious about that, or maybe he was.

Certainly the vehicles were a fabulous source of parts, especially if you owned a popular MGB, Midget or even a Triumph TR3. But as I say, the majority of the vehicles were less interesting to enthusiasts. They were family cars like the Hillman Super Minx, for instance, or the Vauxhall Viva or Austin Cambridge. All but forgotten, really, and now literally out to pasture.

“Every car has a story,” says Joe as we tour what’s left of the collection (now about 60 cars). He introduces each vehicle almost like an old friend. “See the dents in that TR7? The woman who owned it took a sledge hammer to it out of frustration,” he recalls. “It wouldn’t run and she’d had enough.”

“And that Morris J2 window van was actually the school bus in Shannonville for years. Those two A40s are the first cars I brought here, along with the Ford Prefect next to them, that was the third.”

Joe can’t understand why there isn’t more interest in acquiring some of the parts. Pointing to a rusted Triumph TR7 coupe, he lifts the hood to reveal a Toyota 2R engine mated to a five-speed transmission. “For $200 you’d think someone would want that,” he says scratching his head. “A rear-drive five-speed, too. Pretty useful!”

Joe’s got several Austin Marinas that he sees as a great source of desirable parts. “They’ve got MGB engines, a Spitfire gearbox and a TR7 rear end,” he says of the last Austin model exported to Canada.

He identifies the remains of a Vauxhall Viva GT, its 2.0L engine capable of 120 mph, according to Joe, and then takes me to an old GM van that contains nearly all the body panels of a Riley 1.5, along with that model’s distinctive two-tone seats. On the way we pass what appears to be an interloper in the form of an Opel Rekord.

“It’s the same as a Vauxhall,” explains Joe without missing a beat.

When we get to the van, Joe slides the door open to reveal the cherished Riley parts. Says Joe, “A buddy of mine, Norm Mort, asked me what car I’d want if I could have any car, and I said a Riley 1.5. Terrific little cars.”

“I guess I’d better keep these,” he says sliding the door closed decisively.

Eventually Joe stopped rescuing old cars and hasn’t added a vehicle to his yard in ten years at the time of this writing. Some have been dragged away for parts and some contributed to a “parts corral” in a small barn on the property as the attempt was made to box and catalogue thousands of them over the years. Unfortunately, it’s now a challenge for Joe to identify many of the parts.

“I had so much stuff I lost control,” explains Joe. “I no longer knew what I had.”

Personally, I was thrilled to find a pair of headrests in excellent condition for the 1969 Ford Cortina GT that I own. Mine were missing and a replacement pair was not to be found. Turns out Joe has a blue 1970 two-door Cortina with its engine long gone, but the unique headrests – true “unobtanium” – were there for maybe the only person in the world who wanted them. That pleases Joe. He’d love it if more of the rare and useful parts in his yard could be salvaged. On the way back to his house, we pass a Mk 3 Cortina, only available for two years in Canada before being replaced by the “sexy European” Ford Capri. Nice lines on that car…

Nearby is the expressive grille from the Prefect, now separated from its body and looking like it needs a helping hand. Behind a tree you can make out the shape of a Plymouth Arrow (formerly Sunbeam Alpine) and over there’s a Triumph Herald, its Michelotti lines unmistakable. A Vauxhall Viva Estate is nudged in between an MGB and a Marina, and what looks to be a Sunbeam Rapier and an HA Viva are losing a battle with an aggressive shrub. An Austin Gipsy — Austin’s attempt to compete with Land Rover — languishes permanently off-road. An Austin 1800, the so-called land-crab, slowly decomposes while a Farina-bodied Cambridge flashes what’s left of its paint in an apparent attempt to get your attention.

Well it’s bittersweet, I tell you.

Protected from the elements is one car Joe really wants to get on the road. His history with this particular 1956 Austin A35 Pick-up goes back decades. Only 475 were built and Joe knows he has way too much in this car that still needs extensive work. It’s a quirky little vehicle, but needy.

You often hear about cantankerous codgers with a yard full of cars, a suspicious attitude and a Rottweiler guarding the property, but Joe’s none of that. He’s affable, still car crazy and easy to talk with. He’s just kind of overcome by what he’s wrought.

Nonetheless, at 73, Joe is selling modern vehicles through Joe Lightfoot Motors and has become an enthusiastic vintage racecar driver (you’ll find him behind the wheel of an MGB at local events). Meanwhile, and it’s clearly difficult for him, he and his wife are now vacating their property and realistically there is no buyer for an 18-acre Prince Edward County lot that includes a nice house with a fine garage, a 19th Century log cabin, a barn and vast collection of rusting old British cars. The property, sure, but the cars, no way. You certainly won’t see pictures of them in the current real estate listing, and soon you won’t see them on the property at all.

“$175 a ton,” says Joe philosophically. “It’ll be quick. They’ll come with their machines and scoop them up.”

The real estate sign is already at roadside. Amusingly, for those in the know, the online listing describes the property as having “ample parking for cars.” Across the road is one of the many wineries now prospering in Prince Edward County, but there’s no mistaking Joe’s place, at least for the time being. A vintage Ford Consul decorates the front yard.

“It’s going to be tough when they’re taken away,” says Joe of his collection’s imminent demise. “But right now I sit on my back porch and look out and think, well… this is an awesome place. I’d like to keep it forever, but I have to move.

Joe Lightfoot’s property for sale. 3616 County Rd 8, Napanee, ON

Should you need parts or be interested in a Prince Edward County property, contact Joe Lightfoot through his Joe Lightfoot Motors advertisements on Kijiji.

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

30 Years Between Drives in a Glorious Can-Am Car

by Seann Burgess
Photos provided by Seann Burgess

In our “have it now” world, is 30 years between drives too long, or just right?

In my case, it’s just right. The very special “drive” in this case was my homebuilt Can-Am car that I ran in the 3rd gen center seat series in the mid ‘80’s. I did only 6 races and parked the car. Looking back, the slow demise of yet another Can-Am series, coupled with the excitement around the new “Player’s Challenge Series” (I did the first 3 years), meant the race car got pushed to the back of the shop. At the end of ‘88 after racing pretty steady for 10 years, I decided to take a break from driving. I already had the new stronger, wider tub drawn up as the major improvement to the car, as well as finishing the rushed conversion properly. To get the car on those grids back then was a very “hurry up job”. Any racer who has ever had to do something in a rush (that’s all racers), knows what I mean.  I wasn’t going to rush making the car the way I wanted it this time.

I didn’t really do too much on the car for the next few years, I was enjoying the post racing feel with regards to how cheap everything seemed to be in comparison! We bought a used motorhome, went camping (often at race tracks), toured both coasts, built a hotrod, restored a couple of Atlantic cars and a bunch of 70’s bikes, drove “The Ring”, then the car started calling to me. I decided then that I wanted the finished product to be entirely by my own hand, a true homebuilt car. Originally the chassis was my 73-B March hiding under the M1B body. You can see the small 13” wheels in the ‘86 Turn 5 photo. I looked at several options for bodywork back then, not wanting a cycle fender conversion and always loving the curves of the early McLaren. After closing in the cockpit and engine cover  for the center seat configuration, the lines  now “flow” from every view, there’s no bad angle. Into the 2000’s, I went back to working on the car when it called to me, usually between other projects. I fabricated my own front suspension using turbo RX7 brakes and  hubs and found some NOS undrilled Revolution 15” wheels. On the back I made centres for the readily available inner and outers. The car still uses March rear suspension with the FT200. The 15’s fill those wheel wells just right. The engine is from a mid ‘80’s Sebring/Daytona endurance team with all Mazda factory race stuff, very scarce…then and especially now. Dyno shows Weber (285hp) and Lucas injection (314). I’m using carb for simplicity.  The car has a very simple ‘70’s fabricated look to it, the only real experiment was with the always hot rotary exhaust…I ran it forward and back 180 degrees into the right sidepod. A 12v fan exchanges air in the enclosure, getting rid of the unwanted heat around the muffler/pipes. It’s all wrapped and foiled, and although I’ve only done exhibition laps, it seems to work. I’ve seen too many heat related failures with these engines. Then there’s the noise. I broke a muffler in qualifying at Summit Point in ‘86 and was deaf in my right ear for a week. I’ve always had a fascination with the Wankel engines…I have a ‘75 RE5, a ‘69 SnoFury, a ‘75 Sachs Dolmar chain saw (only saw made world wide with rotary engine), and have had several Mazdas, best one being a ‘93 RX7, a very nice car.

Quite a few of the projects I do are basket cases or forgotten/lost interest ones that somehow find me, I don’t look for them. Once people know you do this kind of work, you don’t need to shop. My Can-Am car was never one of those. I promised myself that I would restore it, and I would drive it. I also answered the question “When will it be ready?” about a million times with the same response….when it’s ready. I wanted to enjoy doing it, rushing wasn’t part of the plan. About 10 years ago, I designed & built my new shop, complete with a tool room that is a re-creation of one of the original Mosport pits. It has proved to be a very nice place to work.  Fast forward to 2015, one winter to go before the 50th anniversary of the original Can-Am Series. Timing seemed perfect to have the car done by spring 2016, and go enjoy the fact that IT’S FINISHED!! Just around that time, a neighbour stopped by and asked if I had heard about that Italian racer coming to the Firestone dealer in Owen Sound TOMORROW for a meet and greet?   Sure enough, Mario Andretti was coming to the dealer for one of his promos, and they were encouraging people to come for a car show, barbeque and bring things for him to sign. Well, I’ve got something for him to sign alright! I called the boss up there and asked him if he wanted me to bring the car up to be part of their show. He thought that would be great so the race car took centre stage under the big inflatable tire display.  Mario showed up and after meeting the staff came out to chat with me and check out the car.  We had a great talk, he’s a VERY nice person. 

He signed a bunch of my stuff, Indy flag, some books and my 1986 Molson Indy event poster (his car on it) where he finished 3rd and I was 5th in our respective races. At the end of the day I asked him if he’d sign one more thing for me… the car. “Sure” he said, looking at me with Sharpie in hand, and I said “something complimentary in Italian would be great”.  So, I opened my hand crafted door, exposing my hand built tub side, and he laid it down… ”Bella Macchina”. 

The 2016 roller coaster did not stop there. The folks from Cobble Beach Concours d’Elegance, approached me about bringing the car to their show in September, and I was all for that. We had been to the show that had run for the last 4 years, introducing us to a new level of automobile appreciation. I’d often thought Pebble Beach or a similar type show should be on the bucket list, but thanks to the folks at Cobble Beach, we’ve now got one an hour from our home!

We had enough time to plan a visit to the 50th anniversary at Elkhart (as VIP’s, thanks Dan), to find 50 Can-Am cars! I took a nice enlarged photo from Mosport with me to get a few signatures from the “legends”. I showed David Hobbs and Brian Redman the photo and told them I just drove the car for the first time in 30 years….they both said (and signed)…WOW! Bruce McLaren’s sister & daughter both signed the photo with compliments as well.

Cobble Beach was next, we got the car cleaned up and had a 5 am load-in time onto one of the most beautiful 18th hole fairways you’ll find. They lined me up beside Ayrton Senna’s 1987 Lotus F1 car, not bad company. Being in a Concours is nothing like being at a race track. Everything is spotlessly clean, smells good, tastes good and staff members are everywhere trying to make you happy. It was a great experience. When the judges came to my wife and I with a 2nd place ribbon in hand, we couldn’t believe it. This meant that I had to drive the car across the podium for awards/photos. Of course this had to be done with my right shoe off because a hiking boot doesn’t fit in the footbox if you’re a size 11!

Just when I thought I could stop pinching myself, I’ve just seen that Cobble Beach is using my car to promote next year’s show in some of their ads….the “rewards” as I see them,  haven’t stopped yet.  Having just turned 60, I’ve spent half my life doing “something” with this car. Maybe that’s enough, time will tell whether it should go to the next caretaker. I’ve also spent over half my life with my wife and crew chief, Carole, who has been part of this car story from the beginning.   We even did Can-Am races with just the two of us, running around the country in our converted school bus with the car in the back. We laugh about it now, we had a lot of fun. I can’t tell you how many times she’s asked me over three decades, “What did you get done on the car today?” Always with a smile, she’s the perfect team player. Those readers with supporting spouses will understand, it makes all the difference.

So, were the stars aligned for finishing this car and for all these events to have happened as soon as it was done? It’s hard to argue against it.

50 Years Ago There Was This Formula 1 Race…

Article by Perry M. Mason
Photos by Perry M. Mason

2017 marks a very special anniversary for Motorsport in Canada, 50 years since the inaugural Canadian Grand Prix for Formula 1.  The race was held at Mosport in Bowmanville Ontario, now known as Canadian Tire Motorsport Park (CTMP).

Recalling this event fills me with awesome childhood memories and excitement. It was the first major international motorsport event I ever attended. A special thrill as well, since I got to watch my father, Al compete in the support races and win that weekend in his Corvette.

Seeing iconic drivers such as Jim Clark, Graham Hill, Jochen Rindt and Jack Brabham and getting their autographs are memorable moments I’ll never forget. At the time I had no idea that the drivers I met and watched would be such iconic and influential figures in the sport.

A sharp dressed dapper looking man I saw near driver Jim Clark intrigued me, he looked like “the boss” in that pit.  I was told he was Colin Chapman and “better get him to sign your program” my Dad said.. so I did, right on the Lotus ad on the back..and yes he WAS Lotus, the owner and creator!

My Mother, a big race fan, was in on the action as well. With her Kodak Super 8 camera she captured a lot of the action in the sixties silent colour movie medium. I particularly like her shots of stars Graham Hill and Stirling Moss giving her “the look and a wink” as most ladies of the race paddock would get from these ’60s era playboys.

My most memorable F1 driver encounter was sharing the condiments at the snack bar with a very nice fellow, we were dressing up our fries and I asked him to pass the vinegar..”you like that?” he asked in a European sounding accent. I said “yes”. I guess he was not thrilled about putting acetic acid on his, passed it to me, then he smiled and walked away eating his fries with ketchup.

Then a family friend Gary and formula Vee racer at the time, said “you do know that was Jochen Rindt?” Really??!! I scooted over before he was out of sight and he also signed my program without hesitation, and said thanks to me..he thanked ME..a kid.

Jochen, while leading the championship in 1970 sadly was killed in a brutal crash during practice for the Italian GP at Monza. He was the only posthumous F1 world champion. In the paddock, Dan Gurney, Bruce McLaren, Jackie Stewart all the greats were there. So were two Canadian drivers entered as well, Eppie Wietzes and Al Pease, both unfortunately did not finish. Australian driver Jack Brabham won the inaugural race on that rainy day in September.

In 1973, that same family friend I mentioned earlier Gary, took me to the Mosport F1 race that year. We went only on Sunday race day, and as I recall it was wet again. Hmm.. Mosport wet in September?

Anyway, I remember him pointing out all the quirky things going on at that time. Jackie Oliver spinning his wheels from exit of one to the top of two in the wet without lifting, “not a mature driver yet” he told me, my opinion he was just a nutty driver!  Jackie Stewart craftily getting his way around in what was my favourite car that year the Tyrrell.

One of the drivers there intrigued me as well, he looked like Hollywood movie star, the women seemed to give him two or three double takes, he drove his Tyrrell like he stole it. Francois Cevert was Jackie’s teammate at Tyrrell. He got into a mess in turn two and destroyed his car. I remember fans running away with the iconic Elf blue cowling and the mirrors on those two foot high supports. Wonder where those are today? Sadly Cevert lost his life at Watkins Glen two weeks later during qualifying. He was Stewart’s last teammate as Stewart promptly retired from racing a race earlier than he’d planned due to this and still won the world championship that season. American Peter Revson won that ’73 GP in a McLaren,  Jackie finished fifth.

Mosport (CTMP) was host to this race for F1 from 1967 to 1977 with only the ’68 and ’70 seasons going to Le Circuit in Mont Tremblant, Quebec.

In 1978 the event permanently moved to Montreal. The first edition of the Canadian Grand Prix at the new Montreal location in 1978, was on a purpose built circuit created on the site of Expo ’67 on Île Notre-Dame.

The race was won by our most legendary Canadian race driver Gilles Villeneuve driving for Ferrari. He was presented the winners trophy at this new venue by car enthusiast and Prime Minister of Canada, Pierre Trudeau.

I attended the 1981 edition of the Grand Prix in Montreal. Driving into the track that morning, I was passed by a crazy person in a Ferrari, deck-lid flapping loose, passing on the inside and against traffic all at breakneck speed. Who the hell is that? When stopped at the gate to show my pass, I could clearly see it was Gilles..somehow it that made that illegal display ok.

During the race, to see Villenueve fans in the stands go wild was something to behold. Once again it was another wet race and it wasn’t even Mosport, I walked around with my umbrella and took it all in. Villenueve came into contact with someone or something, and the front wing was standing vertical in front of him, it never slowed him.

I caught that last lap on my camera that day, a cherished photo. The fast and fearless Villeneuve tragically lost his life qualifying for the 1982 Belgian Grand Prix.

The organization for the circuit in Montreal honoured our Canadian race hero by renaming the facility “Circuit Gilles Villeneuve”. Gilles son Jacques followed in his father’s footsteps and made to Formula 1, winning the 1997 world Championship. He however never won in Canada at his namesake’s track. 

These are but a few of the memories I have from witnessing our Canadian GPs over the years. I can’t wait to participate in VARAC’s 50th Anniversary of the first F1 event at Mosport.

I don’t have a Tyrrell or Gilles Ferrari but in my mind I’ll feel like I’m in one!