When man becomes myth, oft-times the human element is lost. The stories are told and retold, the feats and the failings, and a figure becomes fixed in the imagination like a colossus. We read, and watch, and we think we know – but often we don’t have the whole picture.
Gilles Villeneuve, born today sixty-five years ago, is still considered one of the finest drivers to have grasped a wheel, and is a national hero both for Canadians and for Ferrari-crazed tifosi. He soared and fell to earth like Icarus, a tragic hero, another victim of the carnage that consumed so many great drivers at the very peak of racing. We watched his epic battle for second place with Arnoux, perhaps the most feverish duel to ever occur in F1, we heard Niki Lauda call him the “craziest devil I ever came across,” and we mourned his passing.
As I’ve roved around this strange business of writing about cars, I’ve had the good fortune to meet those who knew Gilles and hear their stories. Today, on what would have been his birthday, I’m passing them on to you. … Continue Reading