Villeneneuve, his father’s GPA and the Ferrari 312T3 at Goodwood

Wearing Gilles Villeneuve helmet in his father's car, Jacques Villeneueve at Goodwood

It’s back in 2004, the Goodwood Festival of Speed. Rain is falling in those annoying short showers that just stop the track from drying completely. Tricky conditions, the sort of thing that sends cars into the wall of bales if they drop a wheel onto the wet grass. A day for the lesser talented to learn humility. But a day for the talented to show how it’s done. Someone on the startline is wearing a Gilles Villeneuve helmet…

[quote]the nose turns in and with a sharp stab of power, the driver lights the rear tyres up[/quote]
Off the startline comes the wail of a 12 cylinder Ferrari F1 engine. sharp upshifts, then braking for the first greasy right hander, directly in front of all of the hospitality units with the shiny, wealthy people looking on. Heel toe down change, the nose turns in and with a sharp stab of power, the driver lights the rear tyres up, majestic, controlled oversteer of just the right amount, not straying from the damp track. Rears still sliding, he’s letting the engine have it’s head before an upshift, the rears grip and he’s away, under the bridge, exhaust bouncing back. Now that’s how it’s done….

The picture here records what I’ve been told is a unique event. The car I was talking about is Nick Mason’s beautiful Ferrari 312T3 F1 machine. The driver wearing the Gilles Villeneuve hemet was his son, Jacques Villeneuve. And the GPA helmet he was wearing that day was his father’s original GPA. Goosebumps?

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Just the single run up the hill on the Saturday, no repeat performance. That was all he wanted. The commentary team find a microphone at the top of the hill. Jacques, “It was a one-off, something I’ve always wanted to do. Now I’ve done it, it will be intensely memorable and I doubt I’ll need to do it ever again”.

It must have been quite a feeling for him, sitting on the startline that day, selecting first gear, a big blip, then dropping the clutch, wearing that famous GPA….

Ex- Gilles Velleneuve Ferrrari F1 car under a dust cover after a day's racing

I’ve printed these images several times in response to requests from friends. If you’d like to buy a numbered print of these two shots, you can order online here. As a special offer, the prints normally sell for £65 each, but you can buy the pair for £95, full details of print size, quality and how to order after the link.


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Author: Neill Watson

If you love the sound of the Cosworth V8 as much as the V12 Merlin, the smell of Jet A1 as much as Castrol R and admire the late Ray Hanna as much as Sir Stirling, you’ll find you’re both on the same page. Neill's love of art deco buildings means that his ideal home would be a brilliant white, 1930′s control tower in Southern France, with crisply mown grass, biplane parked on the driveway and a Ferrari 288GTO in the garage. This is something that those around him tolerate, though it does concern them from time to time.

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