The day I met hockey legend Jean Beliveau


Hockey great Jean Beliveau passed away earlier this week. His reputation on the ice was of a player who was respected by fans, teammates and opponents alike. Off the ice, he had a reputation as a classy gentleman who was always willing to take the time to make the people he would meet happy.

Beliveau

Me and Jean Beliveau

I had the pleasure of meeting him once. In 1998, I was playing goal for the Eicon Technology hockey team and Mr. Beliveau came out and coached our team during a charity game we were playing. In the brief moments when I spoke with him, he certainly lived up to his reputation. In the two hours or so that he coached our team, he made me, and I’m sure my teammates, feel like we were important to him.

I left the arena that night feeling grateful for having met the 10-time Stanley Cup champion. Plus, I was happy to show my Dad, who was a huge Canadiens fan, the picture you see on this post.

Oh, by the way, we won the game… 3-2. 🙂

Montréal Nascar race lives up to expectations


This weekend’s Napa 200 Nascar Nationwide series race at Circuit Gilles Villeneuve certainly lived up to my expectations! Justin Allgaier won the race with a last lap ‘bump & run’ pass of local favourite Jacques Villeneuve, who had led 43 laps of what was supposed to be a 72 lap race and ended up third. Villeneuve’s teammate, Sam Hornish, finished second.

In my post on prior to qualifying on Friday, I had predicted a win by Villeneuve, Hornish second, and Tagliani third. It almost happened for Villeneuve, who did an incredible job saving fuel over the last few laps. JV ran an amazing 35 laps on his final tank of fuel! The race, scheduled for 72 laps, ended up running 81 laps due to late cautions. Even the ESPN commentators, who have been fairly harsh on Villeneuve in his last few races, were giving him props for how well he managed his fuel situation, saying “if he wins today, he really deserves it.” Continue reading

Expecting lots of excitement at Circuit Gilles Villeneuve in Montréal


It’s that time of year again here in Montréal. The Nascar Nationwide series has arrived once again for the annual Napa Auto Parts 200 at Circuit Gilles Villeneuve.

I’m not a huge Nascar fan, but I always watch the road course races (Road America, Sonoma, Elkhart Lake, Montréal) because I find them to be more exciting than the ones on the traditional oval race tracks. The Montréal race is always an interesting one, given that the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve is such a good race track, but this weekend’s race has a couple of added storylines that should make the 2012 edition even more exciting:

  • Danica Patrick and Jacques Villeneuve: This is the first time that Villeneuve has raced in Nationwide since the Nationwide race in June when he bumped Danica off track on the last lap of the race. Will she seek revenge for the Road America incident by wrecking JV in this weekend’s race?
  • Lots of Canadian drivers looking for the win: Jacques Villeneuve, Alex Tagliani, Patrick Carpentier, Ron Fellows, Louis-Phillippe Dumoulin, Andrew Ranger. JV, Tags, Carpentier and Ranger have all had strong results in past races while Fellows has won this race before.

Personally, I ‘m hoping that the whole Road America thing is in the past and that both Danica and JV will run a solid race. It doesn’t really help anyone if Danica takes JV out and risks damaging her own car. Keep in mind that she’s racing for points in the championship, JV isn’t. She should concentrate on her own race, and hopefully for her, she can bring her car home for a top 5 finish.

As for the Canadian contingent, I’m really hoping one of them will take the checkered flag. From this morning’s practice times, it looks like Villeneuve and Tagliani have the cars to beat.

My bold prediction for the race

  1. #22 Jacques Villeneuve – Penske Racing Dodge
  2. #12 Sam Hornish Jr. – Penske Racing Dodge
  3. #30 Alex Tagliani – Turner Motorsports Dodge

My take on the Danica Patrick, Max Papis, Jacques Villeneuve incident at Road America


Quite a good NASCAR Nationwide race earlier today at Road America in Wisconsin.

As usual, when NASCAR races on road courses, we see a lot of ‘tradin paint’, especially in the last few laps. Today’s race, ultimately won by Nelson Piquet Jr., was no exception.

On the last lap, with Picquet running away with the victory, this happened:

Here’s my take… it’s too bad for Danica, because she drove a really solid race. But, that was a pure racing incident. All three drivers, Patrick, Papis and Villeneuve are racing for position. Villeneuve clearly had the most speed going down the straight and was bumped by Papis into the grass. Both Patrick and Villeneuve were carrying too much speed into the corner and were experiencing ‘wheel hop’. I wonder if either of them could have made the corner had the contact not happened. In the end, there was contact, and it wrecked Danica’s race, but I chalk it up to being a racing incident… can’t blame Jacques on this one. (Granted, Villeneuve could have been more gracious in his post race interview)

The post-race reaction has been quite negative towards Villeneuve, which I find interesting. How is this incident any different than when Michael McDowell spun Villeneuve earlier in the race? It isn’t… but there was no negative reaction to McDowell, nor should there be. It’s racing people!

Sadly, this incident doesn’t help Villeneuve’s chances of landing a full time NASCAR ride. Too bad, like him or not, Jacques always makes races interesting.

NASCAR arrives in Montréal


The NASCAR Nationwide series arrives in Montréal this weekend for the NAPA Auto Parts 200. This is the fourth visit for the Nationwide series at the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve.

This year’s race will feature a few Sprint Cup regulars, a few road course aces and several Canadian drivers, including Ron Fellows, Andrew Ranger, Patrick Carpentier and Jacques Villeneuve.

Jacques Villeneuve in the #32 Dollar General Camry

While I’ll be happy to see any of our Canadian drivers win, I’ll be cheering for Villeneuve, who will be driving the #32 Dollar General car for Braun Racing. I’ve been a JV fan since his CART racing days in the mid-90s and I’d really like to see him do well in his home town on the course named for his father.

My hope is that a win in Montréal will finally open the doors for him to secure a full-time ride in either the Nationwide or Sprint Cup series for next year. JV proved that he can race on oval tracks when he won the Indy 500 and CART championship back in 1995; so I have no doubt that given the right team and a good car, JV will be able to challenge for the win every weekend.

To be honest, I’d rather see him racing in NASCAR next year than starting his own Formula 1 team. I don’t really want to see JV run at the back of the pack race after race; it’s just not fitting of the championship calibre driver that he is. Still, if the FIA does grant JV and his partners a new F1 team, and we should know that answer soon, I’ll still support him.

In the meantime, good luck to our Canadian drivers this weekend! Enjoy the race!