The Gilles Villeneuve Circuit, Montreal, Canada

The Gilles Villeneuve Circuit is the venue for the Formula One Canadian Grand Prix and, as of 2007, a NASCAR Busch Series race. The circuit, on Île Notre-Dame, a man-made island in the St. Lawrence River that is part of the city of Montreal, was named after the late Canadian driver Gilles Villeneuve, father of Jacques Villeneuve. The venue hosted the Champ Car World Series Grand Prix of Montreal from 2002-2006.

During the few days of the Grand Prix, Île Notre-Dame is one of the noisiest places in Montreal. At just about any other time of the year, it is one of the quietest, being located in the middle of a river, on an island filled with greenery and animals, joggers and cyclists.

The circuit is a fast circuit, but it is also partially a street circuit. As such, barriers run close to the circuit and many experienced drivers have been caught out by them. A particularly famous part of the circuit is the wall on the outside of the exit of the final chicane. In 1999 the wall, which has on it the slogan Bienvenue au Québec (”Welcome to Quebec”) giving it the nickname “Mur du Québec” (Quebec Wall), ended the race of three Formula One World Champions, Damon Hill, Michael Schumacher & Jacques Villeneuve along with FIA GT champion Ricardo Zonta. Since then the wall has been nicknamed “The Wall Of Champions”.

Changes made in 2005 to the curbs on the final chicane were controversial amongst drivers in the run-up to the Grand Prix. The curbs were made higher and more difficult for the drivers to see, making the chicane even more of a challenge to drivers.

Note that for spectators, the track has reduced the viewing area for general admission ticket holders such that you need to purchase grandstand tickets to view the race.

On June 23, 2006, Canadian Press reported that the city of Montreal has awarded exclusive rights to stage the two allowed race weekends on the track to Normand Legault, promoter of the Formula One Canadian Grand Prix. The deal is for 2007 to 2011, with an option for 2012 to 2016. Legault decided to replace the Champ Car race with races from the Grand American Road Racing Association’s Rolex Series and NASCAR’s Busch Series, respectively - the latter series’ first race north of the Canadian-United States border. The inaugural races will take place on August 3 and 4, 2007.

[Source: Wikipedia]

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