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Old 10th September 2019, 08:23   #1
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Default Voyage: To Berthierville & the Gilles-Villeneuve Museum

BUILD - UP, with a promise to KISS (Keep it short and simple):

Are we only going to L'Assomption and Trois Rivieres for the long weekend? But what is there to see? - asked my wife.

Well, there is nothing specific to see...doesn't that sound good enough for a trip? - I asked

My wife and I have this crazy habit of going to lesser-known places for trips. We both hate crowded places. But Berthierville was not a place born out of my research for 'not so crowded place'. In fact, I wanted to go there for some time now. From the time I read the book 'Gilles Villeneuve by Gerald Donaldson', I wanted to go to Berthierville.

When I was 13 or 14, I asked my uncle who had rented a motorcycle on how to ride it. He said - depress the clutch to up-shift or down-shift. Next thing you know, I stole the keys from his shelf and I was riding at 60-70 kmph. No, I didn't get away with it, like Bollywood movies. If I had gotten away, I would have driven faster in the next round. I crashed the motorcycle. By the time I figured out where the rear brakes were, it was too late and I stood on the rear brakes. It was an unpaved gravel road and I was lucky to have survived with just cuts and bruises. I had zero gear on me, not even a helmet.

Where I'm coming from is, I loved speed from a young age. The most I love about cars/motorcycles is the fun of driving/riding it. I know a lot of people who enjoy building cars, tuning it and understanding technical details that go into building them. But my brain can't seem to comprehend those complicated engineering details. I'm completely dependant on my engineering literate friends for that. If any of such friend is reading this, please know that I tried really hard to make sense of it but I failed miserably.

So, why Berthierville?

Berthierville is the hometown of Gilles Villeneuve. A man who needs no introduction in the world of motor-racing. Gilles would easily be 100 x faster than me when he was half asleep. But if you ask me, he was not the fastest driver nor the most successful driver (in terms of race wins) but he was one of the most flamboyant drivers in the history of F1. A driver who knew no fear, a pure racing driver who prioritized driving the wheels of his car lap after lap over winning races or championships. In a short career spanning from 1977 - 1982, he created a unique place for himself in the motorsport world.

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Last edited by voyageur : 22nd September 2019 at 09:34.
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Old 10th September 2019, 09:05   #2
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Default re: Voyage: To Berthierville & the Gilles-Villeneuve Museum

I started following Motorsports (read F1) only from 2013 even though I have watched occasional races of Michael Schumacher on TV back in the days, the sport was boring to me at that point in time. I was more into Motorcycles.

The main reason for me to start watching F1 was because of the movie Rush. I then started playing catch up and reading about F1 through books, blogs and tons of YouTube videos.

Much of my enlightenment about Gilles comes from the following book:

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Gilles is one of the few racing drivers I have read about and his life was spectacular. It's a good read if you are interested in knowing more about Gilles Villeneuve, a lot of amazing details. I'm sure the book won't disappoint you. Unlike many other racing drivers who had the money and influence to get into racing, Gilles actually pushed his way through with sheer determination. He was a force, a legend, an amazing man - on and off the track.

Unfortunately, this post isn't about his life but about Berthierville and Musee Gilles Villeneuve - a museum dedicated to Gilles Villeneuve with a great collection of his things, trophies he won, the Ski-doo's (Snowmobiles) he had raced and a lot more.

On a Sunday morning, we left towards a Tim Hortons (coffee shop) in Berthierville on Boul. Gilles Villeneuve (Gilles Villeneuve Boulevard) to be precise. The agenda was to have breakfast and then head to Gilles Villeneuve Museum which was nearby and then head to Trois Rivieres to check out what's there! I was expecting a quaint town, void of clatter and crowd. Boy, I was wrong. The traffic lights before the coffee shop welcomed me with traffic and the parking lot of the coffee shop welcomed me with revving cruiser motorcycles and a Mk4 Supra.

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After a quick breakfast, we head out to the museum which is also on the Gilles Villeneuve Boulevard. Greeting us in the entrance was a spectacular statue of Gilles himself...

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The problem with this part of the country is that people only speak French and I can barely speak English, let alone French. The reception was manned by an English speaking young lady which was good but every single description of artifacts inside was described in French which was disheartening. It is practically not feasible to stand there and use google translate on each and every description.

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Now I'm going to let the photos do all the talking...

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Each corner, each wall has plenty of stuff from the bygone era.

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Last edited by voyageur : 22nd September 2019 at 09:06.
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Old 16th September 2019, 09:27   #3
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Default re: Voyage: To Berthierville & the Gilles-Villeneuve Museum

To add a little redness to this post...

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And I have somewhere in my list of 'to read' is Tazio Nulovari. But before that, I have a long list which includes Alain Prost and Jim Clark.

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Some items from his Formula Atlantic days:

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And Ferrari days...
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First-year in Montreal and the first victory for Gilles.
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Snow-mobiles:

Driving in the snow at a 100 kmph is a big deal from my first-hand experience. I have had fun in the snow. But Villeneuve was at a totally different level. He was the snow-mobile champion during the 70's and maybe this is where he honed his skills of driving in unfavourable conditions. We speak about Senna and Schumacher as experts in driving in unfavourable conditions but Gilles was as good as they were.

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1977 McLaren agreement. For those who didn't know, Gilles drove for McLaren during 1977 before he joined Ferrari in 1978.

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Last edited by voyageur : 22nd September 2019 at 09:08.
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Old 16th September 2019, 09:52   #4
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Default re: Voyage: To Berthierville & the Gilles-Villeneuve Museum

The Museum had a dedicated TV which repeatedly played the 1979 French Grand Prix race at Dijon. The wheel to wheel duel between Rene Arnoux and Gilles Villeneuve was amazing but is just a thing of the past and that kind of exciting racing is never to return in the modern Formula 1 racing, ever.



Recently Jeremy Clarkson spoke out about what's wrong about F1 which had mentions of Rene Arnoux and Gilles Villeneuve.



And then Jody Scheckter who was the world champion from 1979 and close to Gilles Villeneuve decides to review that video by Jeremy Clarkson.



Nonetheless, Gilles Villeneuve was never afraid to put his life on the line and every lap had him giving it a 100% or maybe more.

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A timeline posted in the museum (apologize for the poor quality images).

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His wedding photo did catch my fancy and I took a close-up of his wedding photo.

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Villeneuve got married at 20. Proof that everything in his life happened at 200 kmph (pun intended).

Last edited by voyageur : 22nd September 2019 at 09:38.
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Old 16th September 2019, 10:36   #5
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Default re: Voyage: To Berthierville & the Gilles-Villeneuve Museum

Finally, what remains to be shared with everyone from the Museum? Not much.

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Many of his brother's and son's (Jacques) stuff also made it to this museum and is stored alongside.

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And again from 1978,

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Some more random pictures from the museum before I draw a conclusion to this post by talking about two experiences:

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1) The Ford pick-up truck that Gilles used, ended up in the museum. The images below have a write-up so I'm not going to write much about it.

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2) To finish off the museum experience with fun and to bring out the child in us, there was a race track set-up with toy race cars. Similar to hot-wheels track but on a much wider scale, this thing was fun. Of course, I was flat-out through all the corners eventually making the car fly out the track.

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There is nothing more to write about Berthierville. As a matter of fact, I didn't plan for anything else in Berthierville other than visiting this musuem.

So it is the 'end of rant' time for me. I would recommend this museum to any motorsport fan. There is so much history, so many things to see and experience. Hope this post brought back some memories for folks who used to follow F1 in the '70s and '80s. Let me know below if you have any comments and I'll be happy to respond.

Cheers!

Last edited by voyageur : 22nd September 2019 at 09:40.
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Old 21st September 2019, 12:32   #6
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Default re: Voyage: To Berthierville & the Gilles-Villeneuve Museum

Quoting short excerpts from the book (some in my own words due to laziness):
  • Ford Mustang
    I asked the administration about the Ford Mustang that Gilles owned and they didn't have a clear answer. From the book, Gilles owned a 1967 Mustang with a 289 cubic inch motor, which he replaced with a 427 unit. Gilles was mechanically inclined and used to work on his cars as well as his race cars along with the mechanics. I was surprised to not find it in the museum.
  • The fastest racing driver would be the offspring of Gilles Villeneuve and Alain Prost
  • Everyone agrees that Gilles always was risking more than any other driver. That was how he made his career: Eddie Cheever
  • My pre-occupation was keeping myself alive, but Gilles had to be the quickest on every single lap - even in testing: Jody Scheckter
  • Tazio Nulovari won the Brno Grand Prix in Czechoslovakia driving on 3 wheels in 1935 - similar to Gilles at Zandvoort: Enzo Ferrari
  • Gilles used to test Ferrari like a 9-5 job in Maranello before the commencement of 1978 season. That must have been the coolest day job to have. Eat, burn rubber, sleep and repeat.
  • I like Gilles as he is, with his incredible aggression and willingness to take risks: Enzo Ferrari
  • After the death of Gilles, Jody devoted himself to the difficult tasks to follow: Joann
  • Speaking about the incident with Didier Pironi at 1982 Imola, Gilles recollected all the times he obeyed 'slow' orders from Ferrari. He sat on Jody's tail in 1979 knowing that it was his last chance to win the World Championship. But he didn't break his word.
  • Gilles would tear the road between Berthierville and Joliette (where Joann lived). The 15-mile road was straightened and much of the driving challenge is gone. His brother would drive it - faster than a mile a minute. It was winding like hell, so it was really gutsy if you wanted to test yourself. Gilles used to make it in eleven, ten and sometimes in nine minutes: Jacques Villeneuve (brother of Gilles)
  • Wait for me, I won't be long - Gilles to Joann before the start of each race

I'll leave it at this for you all to explore further.

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Last edited by voyageur : 22nd September 2019 at 09:23.
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Old 22nd September 2019, 10:23   #7
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Default re: Voyage: To Berthierville & the Gilles-Villeneuve Museum

Thread moved out from the Assembly Line. Thanks for sharing!

One for the Lazy Sunday reading! Nice!
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