The Ottawa Citizen from Ottawa, Ontario, Canada on August 24, 1995 · 115
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The Ottawa Citizen from Ottawa, Ontario, Canada · 115

Ottawa, Ontario, Canada
Issue Date:
Thursday, August 24, 1995
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1 yfv rtf Joann, and Jacques in 1977: Enzo Ferrari called Italy afterwards, and Pollock to Gilles his "high Switzerland, where Villeneuve priest of destruction" soon turned up in the first 0f several attempts to try to persuade him to become his manager. "The third time he said, 'Listen, I need a new manager. I need someone who understands the business. I like you, you're my friend -' etc., etc., 'You should become my manager because I'm lucky, and if you become my manager that will probably rub off on you.' " Villeneuve had already done three years in Italian F3. Pollock moved him to Japan. "It was the most competitive F3 series at the time," Pollock says. "Basically, it was going to be good for his maturity both as a person and a race-car driver." The year after, Villeneuve moved into the Atlantic Formula for one year, hooking up with Barry Green. As a team manager, Green had already worked with the 1991 IndyCar champion Michael Andretti, whose father Mario won the 1978 Formula One World Championship, in between winning the IndyCar championships in 1965, '66, '69, and '84. Green had also handled the 1990 and '94 IndyCar champion Al Unser, Jr., whose father, AI Sr., was IndyCar champion in 1970, '83, and '85 (when he beat his son by one point), and whose uncle Bobby Unser won it in 1968 and '74. "They've all been brought up around racing," Green says of the younger Andretti, Unser, and Villeneuve, "and I guess you get horribly used to it, and all you have to worry about then is if you can drive." It's noon, and the race is scheduled to start in an hour. The gear problem on his car has been sorted out, and Jacques Villeneuve is in his motorhome, sitting down to lunch. It is the usual: pasta - fusil-li this time - with a simple tomato sauce and lots of parmesan over top (tonight, after the race, he will have a steak). He is handed a large glass of milk in a hideous tumbler made of lumpy glass, of swirling red, purple, blue, and gold, "Elkhart Lake" stamped on its side. "What's this?" Villeneuve asks. "To drink? You washed this already?" The Team Green attendant assures Villeneuve that he did. A fan gave two of these glasses to Craig Pollock "for Jacques and his wife" not half an hour ago, to commemorate Villeneuve's pole position, and he threatened to produce six more if Villeneuve won the race. Villeneuve is not married, but he does have a gorgeous girlfriend of more than two years, Sandrine Gros d'Aillon, and she is sitting in a big, plush chair halfway down the motorhome, engrossed in one of Anne Rice's vampire chronicles. Gros d'Aillon now studies communications at Concordia University in Montreal, but she lived in Monaco for ten years, where the two met at the Canadian Club, at a Canada Day party, of all things. "I love this sport," Villeneuve says, "because I like being on the edge. I like speed. But not any kind of speed: you could be in a plane and going very fast and that's nothing. But speed when you feel the limits, and when, if you go over the limit, you're going to crash or something is going to go wrong. It can be on skis or on a motorbike. And in a car, well, IndyCar racing is so competitive you have to push yourself sometimes beyond the limit. It's great - " Villeneuve pauses for a forkful of pasta. "This has always been what I wanted to do. I never thought about doing anything else." Villeneuve hasn't yet slipped into his racing suit, but he's already wearing the under-layer: snug, full-body flame-retardant underwear. The physical resemblance to his father is apparent, but not striking. He does, however, have the identical physique: Jacques Villeneuve is a mere five-foot-six, and 147 pounds; as for jockeys, it is the ideal size for a driver. "Road America is the type of track I really like," he says. "It's got long straight lines, good braking areas, high-speed turns, low-speed rums, in a lot of different combinations." It's also the track on which he won his first Indy race, back in 1994. His uncle Jacques, who otherwise had a fairly undistinguished IndyCar and Can-Am racing career, won his only Indy race here; he was the first Canadian to win a race in the series. "In a qualifying lap," Villeneuve says, "you have to push beyond what you normally do. You try and brake later, getting into the corner with more speed and then stepping on the throttle earlier. It depends what's happening in the race and if you're faster than everybody else, but on a race lap, you try not to overheat or overuse the tires, you try to save fuel, and so you brake a little earlier and so on. And you try not to make mistakes." Today, Villeneuve is faster than everybody else, and he doesn't make any mistakes. He gets away cleanly, and stays in front for all but four of the fifty laps. Fourteen laps are run under yellow caution flags. The last one ends on lap forty-seven, and Toronto's Paul Tracy, right behind Villeneuve at the time, comes on strong at the restart, but it isn't enough. Villeneuve gets twenty points for the victory, one extra for leading the most laps in the race, and another for qualifying in pole position. He now has a twenty-two-point lead in the championship; and he makes it look easy. "The more success you have," Villeneuve said at the Friday press conference, "the more other teams want you, and the more other series want you." So now Villeneuve faces the usual questions: Are you going to be here next year? Or in Formula One? "I don't know yet. I would like to know where I'm going to be, but I don't know yet." When will you know? "Well, if I knew when I was going to know, that would probably mean I would know right away," Villeneuve answers, smiling. The IndyCar racing series, with fourteen of its seventeen races this year held in the U.S., is an unapologetically American sport. Formula One (Fl), with sixteen races run in fifteen countries, including stops in Barcelona, Buenos Aires, and Budapest (rather than Cleveland, Portland, or Milwaukee) is international and, well, glamorous. Both series are enormously popular, but it is Fl that attracts an international race-day television audience of 500-million, all cheering for their countrymen, or at least for the legendary Ferraris. At a glance, Indy and Fl have much in common. Both use single-seat race cars with engines roughly equivalent in power (750 horsepower). But the differences in the technical details are enormous. The most basic difference is weight: an IndyCar's minimum mass is 703 34 Saturday Night September 1995 photograph: Parr Yonemoto

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