Below is a never before published image of Gilles Villeneuve and Bobby Rahal just after a soggy and rather informal podium ceremony at the Gimli Formula Atlantic race in June 1975. It was Gilles’ first Atlantic race win. The third person to the left, holding the umbrella could well be Price Cobb who completed the podium.
Gilles was racing for the tiny Skiroule team in a green March 75B. Rahal was in a Lola T360. Ever the enthusiast, Bobby re-acquired the car in 2000 and occasionally races it at historic events.
At Gimli, Gilles had qualified only in 19th position after difficulties with his self-run March. However, come race day the heavens opened and the talent rose to the top with the impish French-Canadian cutting through the field to win the race from Rahal. Other future F1 drivers in the race that sodden June day were Hector Rebaque, Brett Lunger and Vern Schuppan.
Sometime Lotus and BRM F1 driver, Bill Brack, took the title in 1975 after winning the finale at Halifax, Nova Scotia. This victory allied to his consistency with his family run Chevron B29, pipped Elliot Forbes-Robinson (Lola T360) and Bertil Roos’ Schweppes sponsored March, despite both of the challengers taking two race wins each in the six event series.
Gimli was an airfield track in Manitoba, the Canadian prairie province. The facility is still in use now with a drag strip and 1.3kms road course close to a working airfield. The airfield served during World War 2 as the home of Service Flying Training School under the British Commonwealth Air Training Plan. The station closed in September 1971.
I sent the photo to Rahal and amid his reply was a touching memory. “Gilles was such a lovely guy, a fierce competitor and I cherish those races we had together.”
Many thanks to the great, Bob Marston, for use of this photo. Bob was working for Lola in his capacity of Chief Designer.