Hall of Famer
Inducted in 2010
Indy 500 winner
IndyCar World Series (Team Green) – 17 race starts, 6 pole positions, 4 race wins, and 1st in the championship
Formula One (Rothmans Williams Renault) – 17 race starts, 10 pole positions, 7 race wins, and 1st in the championship
NASCAR Nationwide Series (Braun Racing Toyota) – 2 race starts
NASCAR Canada Canadian Tire Series (Jacombs Racing Ford) – 2 race starts
TRV6 – 2 race starts
Jacques was born on 9 April, 1971, in Saint-Jean-sur-Richelieu, Quebec, Canada.
Despite losing his father Gilles, who was tragically killed in 1982 at the wheel of his Formula One Ferrari, Jacques was determined to pursue a professional racing career in motorsport. At the age of 15, Jacques enrolled at the Jim Russell Racing Driver’s School in Quebec. This was the very same school that his late father Gilles Villeneuve had attended, and under the direction of his uncle Jacques Villeneuve Sr., the young Canadian began to learn his craft.
It was evident from the very beginning that his talent and potential would carry him through to the highest levels of competitive racing. By 1992, Jacques had spent three years racing in Italian Formula Three, and took the bold step to move to the TOM’s team to compete in the Japanese Formula Three Championship. Jacques won three races and finished overall second in the championship - ensuring an impressive debut year in the series. 1993 saw him move to the USA to contest the Formula Atlantic Championship with Team Forsythe-Green, where in his debut year, the talented Canadian achieved third place in the overall standings.
This was enough to see him graduate to the IndyCar World Series, and in 1994 he took to the grid with Team Forsythe-Green. Jacques finished an impressive year sixth in the driver standings, a runner-up at the Indianapolis 500, and notably he took the title of Rookie of the Year. Returning for the 1995 season, Jacques won the IndyCar World Series Driver’s Championship with Team Green, and took a thrilling victory at the 79th running of the Indianapolis 500.
Formula One beckoned and Jacques ventured across the pond after signing to drive for British team Rothmans Williams Renault. Taking pole position in his first ever Grand Prix, Jacques was only denied winning his debut race after an oil leak cost him the victory. However, he went on to win four races that year, and finished runner-up in the Driver’s Championship. 1997 saw Jacques take the coveted Formula One Driver’s title – after a dominant year where he achieved 10 pole positions and seven race wins.
Jacques left the Williams team in 1999, to join new team British American Racing. For the next five years, he worked tirelessly to yield some results for the new team, battling against a field full of fierce competition and experience. However by the end of the 2003 season, Jacques’ highest finish in the championship was seventh (in 2000), and the former F1 World Champion left BAR. Jacques remained in F1 for the next three years – racing for Renault, Sauber and BMW, before making the decision to step away from Formula One and pursue other projects.