M.Nader -DODZ- wrote:
I haven't seen him race unfortunately, but the praise he receives is kind of similar to Alesi only much better. care to comment on that Blinky and Drebin?
First off, I agree with Drebin. I never thought of him as a future WDC who was robbed of it by tragedy, he was just a great racer.
Commenting on a previous post questioning whether he was as quick as the current aces, why not? Because of the differences in technology and cars, we can never safely compere these drivers directly. But you know how to do it without a stopwatch? Get close to the track (I'm talking real close) and observe. After a few laps you will notice that some drivers manage to turn in harder, get on the gas sooner, and make life for the car ahead intolerable. And pretty soon your mates will turn to you and say "he's pretty quick", and you will nod your head. I've done that with many greats famous for being quick, from Ronnie Peterson to James Hunt to Niki Lauda. Gilles was definitely one of them.
My apologies for the side trip M.Nader -DODZ, I felt I had to deal with that. Both Gilles and Jean were glorious warriors who carried the battle flag of Ferrari into battle, and despite not winning as much as hoped for, acquitted themselves magnificently. They were very different, but both were courageous and honorable in their deeds, earned the respect of their competitors, and adoration of countless fans.
The first time I saw Gilles was at a Formula Atlantic race at Mosport. At that time, Formula Atlantic was the top feeder series before Formula One and CART. So the drivers were no slouches. Gilles started the race well back, and I didn't see him on the first lap because I was following the leaders. But after the field disappeared, my buddy asked me if I saw him, and replied I had not. So he told me to watch this 69 car next lap, he was doing crazy stuff. So on lap 2 I picked him out about in the middle of the field. The cars approached the entry to Moss corner, he passed two cars on the inside, then another in the very short straight on the outside, then three cars exiting Moss. People frequently use such language as "he put the car where it should not have been", and "it was unworldly", but he did it. By lap three the crowd was buzzing, with a lot of pointing going on. By lap 4 everyone there was looking out for just this one car. We didn't even see the leaders or whatever, we were looking out for that crazy kid in the 69 car.
His race didn't last long, he retired about half way, some mechanical problem. So the record books show him as starting well back, and a DNF. But for the crowd there that day, the entire weekend was forgotten. What was the major race, who won, who cares. All lost by just one short memory, just a few laps, but something that a fan could spend an entire lifetime and never witness personally.
It was like gazing into the sun and being blinded.