Sunday, August 14, 2016

Fast Facts on Grand Prix Trois-Rivieres

Photo Credit: Jack Webster


Trois-Rivieres (or sometimes translated to 'Three Rivers' in the United States) has been a rich and beloved French-Canadian contribution to motorsports for almost five decades. Often depending upon smaller racing series, the event has provided the opportunity for rising stars of motorsports to claim limelight. Races within the Grand Prix Trois-Rivieres have been contested by many auto racing legends in the making with past victors including Michael Andretti, Helio Castroneves, Tony Kanaan, Ron Fellows and Patrick Tambay. A great deal of other drivers have been deprived a win at the tricky, street race In recent years, racing has taken place during two weeks as the FIA World Rallycross and Formula Drift Canada compete on a paved/dirt track on the first weekend while a more traditional event on the all-paved street course takes place on the second weekend.


Fact #1: The Grand Prix Trois-Rivieres was first held on September 8th and 9th of 1967 sanctioned by the Club Autosport Mauricien (CAM). The first event winner of the Grand Prix Trois-Rivieres was Jacques Duval. In a 50-lap main event sanctioned by the Canadian Automobile Sport Clubs, Duval drove a Porsche to victory. A 2011 Canadian Motorsport Hall of Fame inductee, Jacques Duval motorsport accomplishments include five Quebec championships. He is also recognized as a successful member of media that includes major contributions to automotive journalism in Canada.   


Fact #2: The 49th year of the Grand Prix Trois-Rivieres in 2016, the event is the oldest remaining street course auto race in North America. However, due to a lack of event funding from 1986 to 1988, the three-year interruption in racing activities on the streets resulted in 46 events held at Trois-Rivieres. The longest continuously operating street course auto race is reserved for the Grand Prix of Long Beach in California operating annually since 1975. 



Fact #3: Since 1967, the street course used for the Grand Prix Trois-Rivieres has undergone a multitude of noticeable configuration changes. Originally racing on a 1.6-kilometer (1.15-mile) track, the course's length was extended to 2.01 kilometers in 1968. The next major reconfigurations were performed to the track in 1973 and 1978. The current Trois-Rivieres street course's main shape was employed during the traditional open wheel and sports car racing weekend was adopted in 1989 presently running 2.46 kilometers (1.53 miles). An enlarged pit road was incorporated into the track in 2009.


Fact #4: In 1974, Trois-Rivieres hosted its first Formula Atlantic event. A series later transforming into the Toyota Atlantic and finally functioning as the Atlantic Championship, this particular form of auto racing was the longest-running tradition at the Grand Prix Trois-Rivieres. The 1974 Formula Atlantic race on the Quebec street course was won by American Tom Klausler driving a Lola chassis supported by the recently-departed Carl Haas. Also part of the inaugural Formula Atlantic outing in Trois-Rivieres was George Follmer, French Formula 1 pilot Patrick Depaillier and Canadian racing legend Gilles Villeneuve. Gilles as well as his brother Jacques Villeneuve (often called Jacques Villeneuve Sr. or Uncle Jacques to prevent confusion between Gilles Villeneuve's son and 1997 Formula 1 champion) would combine to win four Formula Atlantic events on Trois Rivieres.


Fact #5: Continuing with Formula Atlantic or its later related series, seven Canadian drivers won an event at Grand Prix Trois-Rivieres. Of the seven, four won on multiple occasions. Uncle Jacques Villeneuve and Toronto's David Empringham captured three victories while Alex Tagliani and Patrick Carpentier collected a pair of wins. Canadian Motorsport Hall of Fame driver Bill Brack won in 1978 while Michael Valiante became the last Canadian driver to win a Grand Prix Trois-Rivieres Atlantic event in 2002. The final running of the Atlantic Championship at Trois-Rivieres occurred in 2009 with Simona de Silvestro taking a monumental victory.


Fact #6: In addition to the Formula Atlantic series, the racing schedule for past Grand Prix Trois-Rivieres event weekends have accommodated the Can-Am Series, Canadian Formula Ford, Trans Am Series, American Le Mans Series as well as Indy Lights. In 2001, stock car racing made its debut on the circuit with the presence of the CASCAR Super Series. For 2016, the event weekend on the 2.46-kilometer track consists of Formula Tour 1600, Canadian Touring Car Championship, IMSA Prototype Lites, Porsche GT3 Challenge Canada Cup, Nissan Micra Cup and the NASCAR Pinty's Series for the Can-Am Tours 50.  


Photo Credit: Matthew Murnaghan/NASCAR


Fact #7: French-Canadian driver Marc-Antoine Camirand currently holds the record for most victories at the Grand Prix Trois-Rivieres. In various forms of racing during the grand prix race weekends, Camirand has won a total 11 times on the track including in US F2000 and Canadian touring car.




Fact #8: Perhaps the most famous landmark on the Grand Prix Trois-Rivieres' 2.46-kilometer course is Porte Pacifique-Duplessis. A concrete gateway constructed in 1938, three-section architectural structure memorializes renowned turn of the 17th century missionary Pacifique Duplessis. 


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