Jacques Villeneuve: Canada’s King of Motorsports
At the time of writing, the 2017 editions of the Indy 500 and Monaco Grand Prix are less than 24-hours from being run. The two races make up elements of the Triple Crown of motorsports, the most difficult and extraordinary accomplishments in all of the sport. A driver who wins the Indy 500, Monaco Grand Prix (or becomes Formula One World Champion) and wins the 24 Hours of Le Mans, claims the prize.Winning the Triple Crown isn’t easy, and only one driver in motorsports’ history has accomplished the nearly impossible feat. Britain’s Graham Hill achieved race car driving immortality in 1972 when he won Le Mans; and capturing the Triple Crown.The Son of a Fallen GreatCanada’s Jacques Villeneuve has come close to winning the Triple Crown, falling just short of achieving the feat. It has been the 24 Hours of Le Mans race that has kept the elite driver from becoming the first man since Hill to win the three pillars of the Triple Crown.Villeneuve, the son of Canadian Formula One driver Giles Villeneuve, won the Indy 500 in 1995. Two years later, the Canadian finished the Formula One season as the top points winner and champion. That season saw Villeneuve tally 81 points, and take first on the podium in seven races. Villeneuve’s championship win came in only his second Formula One season, a year after narrowly missing out on the title in his rookie year in the motorsport. Coincidentally, Villeneuve lost out to Graham Hill’s son Damon in 1996.The Canadian’s success came early in Formula One, and he soon declined rapidly. Although he spent 11 years in the motorsport, he never reached the same heights again. Villeneuve joined NASCAR, amongst other driving circuits, thereafter. While things haven’t been as great as they once were for Villeneuve on the racetrack, he still remains one of the top Canadian race car drivers to ever to get behind the wheel.When Villeneuve walked away from Formula One, he famously said, “Screw this. It’s time to get on with the rest of my life.”Following His FatherHis father, Giles, was a great in his own right, winning six Formula One races during his illustrious career. Giles took his family on the road with him, and the entire Villeneuve family toured the world to watch the patriarch of the family race. In 1982, the family reached a crossroads, however, as Giles died during the Belgian Grand Prix’s qualifying sessions. It was a tragedy, and Canada lost a sporting hero. But it wasn’t long until the young Villeneuve would sit in the driver’s seat and firmly take hold of the steering wheel, surpassing his father.Canada may never have another set of racers like the father and son combination of the Villeneuve family. At the time of writing, Canadian James Hinchcliffe was scheduled to competed in his seventh Indy 500. Although Hinchcliffe hasn’t reached the same levels as Villeneuve, he has the potential to achieve similar accolades. Le Mans still stands between Villeneuve and the Triple Crown, but it looks increasingly like the Canadian race car driver will have to be content with just two jewels of the Tripe Crown.