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Lights out and away we go!

By Paloma Torres Neus

Contributor


There are many racetracks around the world, but none are quite as special as this

one. The circuit Gilles Villeneuve is a motorsport racing track here in Montreal, best known for hosting the Formula 1 Canadian Grand Prix. I can’t pinpoint the exact moment I started going to the track but I feel like I have been going since before I was even born. 


My parents got married near the track which instilled in me a special bond to that place. The track holds significant meaning to me because it’s a constant reminder of what I want to achieve in life. 


Built in 1978, the track was named after Québécois driver Gilles Villeneuve. He was a driver for Scuderia Ferrari and won the Canadian GP in 1978. The track is located on l’île Notre-Dame and has been a part of the Grand Prix stops for 45 years. Not much surrounds the track, which is near the river, offering scenic views as you walk. There are a few trees here and there and obviously the paddock and the bleachers for the spectators.


Via Paloma, 2017


My two earliest memories of going to the track involve my mother: first, she would put me in the stroller and would run the entire track as her workout, and later, as I had learned to bike, she would take me to the track and rollerblade next to me as we raced seeing who would reach the finish line first. Until this day, I suspect she let me win, because there is no way I was that quick at the age of five. The track spans approximately 5 km, and features 14 challenging turns. There’s a very famous wall named “The Wall of Champions” due to the numerous times world winning champions would hit it. Today, that wall has the inscription “Bienvenue au Québec,”  lettered in washed-out white paint as the many winters have come and gone.


There’s a calming quiet that comes with visiting the track when no one is around; it's peaceful to just walk around and look at all the dented fences and skid marks on the curbs. Now, every summer, I go biking or rollerblading on track. It’s lively during that season as plenty of families are there doing exactly that. You can always hear a young kid yelling “3-2-1 go!” or “I won!” when a child reaches the end of the track before their parents.


Ever since I was young, racing has been a huge part of my life. My parents are both passionate F1 fans; it was tradition to watch races in our living room, cheering for Lewis Hamilton. At the age of ten, I saw my first race in person with my mother, and we had so much fun looking at the cars zooming past us. That day, a decision was made, and it would lead me to where I am today.


I decided I wanted to become a journalist for Formula 1, and I have been working towards that goal ever since. Today, however, this track holds a deeper meaning for me, bringing me closer to my great grandmother whom we lost last December. She was the biggest F1 fan ever, so much so that my uncle and cousin are both racers. Every race I watch, every time I visit that track, I feel as if she’s there with me, encouraging me to keep going and to reach my goal. So that’s what I do — I keep pushing for her.

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