Jacques Villeneuve

Born:
4th November 1953 (Age 65)
St-Jean-sur-Richelieu, Quebec
Nationality:
Canadian
Most recent race (in database):
Biography

Gilles Villeneuve’s younger brother started racing snowmobiles in 1974 before switching to saloons and Formula Ford. He made his Formula Atlantic debut just as Gilles was competing for the 1979 World Championship. Somewhat wild in his rookie year, Jacques Villeneuve scored back-to-back titles for Doug Shierson Racing in 1980 and 1981.

Disappointing Formula 1 opportunities

That led to an invitation to race an Arrows A3-Ford in the end-of-season North American Grands Prix of 1981 although Villeneuve did not qualify for either race. He raced in Can-Am during 1982 but the year was interrupted by his brother’s death.

Despite the loss, Villeneuve made his Champ Car debut at Phoenix and won the 1983 Can-Am title driving a Frissbee GR3-Chevrolet. He also joined the RAM Formula 1 team for that year’s Canadian GP on a circuit that had been renamed after his brother. Sadly, the result was the same with Villeneuve a DNQ once more.

Subsequent Champ Car career

He drove a Canadian Tires-sponsored March-Cosworth in the 1984 Champ Car World Series but the year was interrupted by injuries to his right foot sustained practising at Michigan. He returned to qualify on pole position at Phoenix and remained with the team for 1985. The highlight was his breakthrough victory at Elkhart Lake as he finished eighth in the standings.

1986 was his last full Champ Car season – twice finishing fifth with Hemelgarn Racing’s March 86C-Cosworth. He made a surprising one-off Formula 3000 appearance at Spa-Francorchamps in 1987 when he failed to qualify Genoa Racing’s March 87B-Cosworth.

Now racing on a whim, he won at Trois-Rivières in 1989 and 1991 and made two final Champ Car starts in 1992 with Frank Arciero’s Lola T91/00-Buick. Snowmobiling remained part of Villeneuve’s competitive DNA. He was seriously injured in the 2008 World Championship Derby after colliding with another competitor. He suffered fractures to both legs, his pelvis and spine although he returned to snowmobiles a year later.