This weekend, the 39th edition of the Grand Prix de Trois-Rivieres was presented in front of a huge and loud crowd.
The narrow circuit going through the streets of Trois-Rivieres, Quebec, is the oldest road course in North America. Over the course of the last four decades, many legendary pilots like Gilles Villeneuve, Jacques Villeneuve, Paul Gentilozzi, Ron Fellows, Alexandre Tagliani, Patrick Carpentier, and James Hunt participated in the event since its first edition in 1967.
I had the privilege to be on the site with a couple of friends yesterday and we had a great time. We sat at the start/finish line to experience the top speed of the Atlantic series and NASCAR Canada race cars.
It was my very first NASCAR experience and I was impressed by the power of those cars. The loudness of those engines running at full capacity is simply amazing.
The NASCAR Canada series was the last race presented this weekend. Two French-Canadians (Alexandre Tagliani and Andrew Ranger) were respectively starting from the third and seventh spot on the grid. The race was difficult for Tagliani as he collided while trying to overtake an opponent during the first half of the race.
But for Ranger, it was a different story. First, the pilot from Roxton Pond received great news just minutes before the start of the race: he will participate in every NASCAR Nationwide Series race until the end of the 2008 season.
After a good performance in Montreal on board of Fitz Motorsports' No. 22, he will end the 2008 season with the team.
He will participate in his very first oval race in Bristol on August 23rd. Then he will run at Richmond, Charlotte, Memphis, Texas, Phoenix, and at Homestead on November 15th for the last race of the 2008 season.
In front of the press, Ranger was very emotional and had a hard time containing his tears. The only thing he managed to say is that he has been following NASCAR action since his childhood, and to be a part of it is very special to him.
Ranger was running in third position for the major part of the event until the final lap. As the cars were negotiating the last corners of the track, the two cars in front of him collided, allowing Ranger to slip inside and finish in first place to the pleasure of an ecstatic crowd.
I had a great time this weekend, and I will once again be there for the 40th anniversary of the event. The organization announced that they will do their best to bring Jacques Villeneuve in Trois-Rivieres in 2009.