The hidden date for this stamp can be found along the left edge of the stamp.
Gilles Villeneuve was one of the fastest, most exciting and one of the most skilled drivers the international racing community has ever known. A phenomenon in the elite world of Formula One racing, he epitomized the daring of this spectacular and dangerous sport. On June 12, 1997, collectors everywhere will be racing own the Gilles Villeneuve domestic and international rate stamps. The Official First Day Cover will be cancelled in Montréal, Quebec, the site of Villeneuve's first Formula One World Championship win.
The domestic rate (45¢) stamp celebrates Villeneuve's red-racing Ferrari, a T-4 which he drove to the second place in the World Championship in 1979. The background is speedblurred and to the right we see the black and white checkering of the flag recognizing Gilles Villeneuve as a racing winner.
Born in Chambly, Quebec on January 18, 1950, Villeneuve was known for his love of speed, vast knowledge of mechanics and lightning-fast reflexes. At the age of eight his family moved to Berthierville, a town on the north shore of St. Lawrence, approximately half-way between Montreal and Trois-Rivières. In his youth Villeneuve raced snowmobiles and souped up his Mustang for the local drag races. Gilles won several snowmobile racing titles including in Eagle River, Wisconsin. With his earnings, Villeneuve financed his entry into Formula Ford racing and won the Quebec provincial championship and was named "Rookie of the Year" for 1973. Gilles moved to the more powerful Formula Atlantic cars and by 1976 he was dominating Canadian and American FA competition, winning 9 out of 10 races. Formula One racing was the next stop for this determined and talented Canadian. In 1977, the members of the McLaren Formula One team invited Villeneuve to race with them. His success with McLaren lead to an offer from Ferrari. At Mosport, Villeneuve placed 12th in his Ferrari debut. In 1978 at the Labatt Grand Prix in Montreal, Gilles Villeneuve scored his first Formula One victory. It is a moment etched in the minds of many Canadians for on that day the crowd responded to the victory with wild cheers. As he approached the podium to receive his trophy from the Prime Minister, it was as if he was accepting the prize on behalf of every single Canadian. In 1979, he fished second in the Canadian Grand Prix and won the US Grand Prix both West and East. In his short racing career, Gilles Villeneuve ran 67 races for Ferrari and won six Formula One championships.
On May 9, 1982 while attempting for the Belgium Grand Prix, Gilles Villeneuve was killed when his Ferrari collided with an another car at approximately 160 miles per hour. Scotland's Jackie Stewart, three-time world Formula One champion and a close friend of Gilles Villeneuve said, "physically and mentally Gilles Villeneuve was the epitome of a modern Grand Prix driver. As well, he was a truly Canadian hero and waved the maple leaf flag of his country with great pride. He was a more important ambassador for Canada than most Canadians will ever know." Since his death, the memory and legend of this great Canadian has continued to grow. Monuments have been erected to him in Berthierville, Quebec and Fiorano, Italy. The main street in Fiorano, which leads to the test circuit had been named "Via Gilles Villeneuve" and Montreal's Grand Prix venue was renamed "Le Circuit Gilles Villeneuve" in his honour.
The two stamps honouring Gilles Villeneuve were designed by Joseph Gault and Nigel Skinner with photography by Allan de la Plante.