Villeneuve begins 4th title chase in Beausejour

KIRK PENTON, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 10:13 AM ET

The field is huge, the track is the best it's been in years -- maybe ever -- and Jacques Villeneuve has returned to do some racing.

No, not that Jacques Villeneuve. We're talking about the Quebecer who has won three Canadian Power Toboggan Championships in his illustrious career. He is back in Beausejour this weekend for the opening CPTC event of the season.

Action begins at 10 a.m. today and tomorrow.

Villeneuve is actually the uncle of the former Formula One driver, but, unlike his nephew, nothing appears to be able to stop him -- even at age 55. He won Canadian championships in 1974, 1987 and 2006, and he will begin pursuit of title No. 4 today.

"He doesn't race to place. He races to win," said Andy Baker, the director of racing at the Beausejour ice oval. "He's quite the character. He's 55 years old and still riding around the track at 100 miles per hour."

(In case you're unfamiliar with the sport, Baker literally means 100 m.p.h.).

Winnipeg's Brian Bewcyk will be the local favourite in the premier Champ 440 class, which has attracted a whopping 16 racers. There are more than 160 entries overall, and they came from all over -- Michigan, Wisconsin, Illinois, Minnesota and three provinces.

Included in that figure are more than 30 locals.

Baker expects there to be 37 races both days, and organizers try to get them done as quickly as possible so fans don't end up as popsicles in the forecasted freezing temperatures. There will be intermissions every 30 or 45 minutes.

If sitting out in the cold isn't your thing, you can park your vehicle on the north end of the oval and watch the action from there.

And the souped-up sleds should be going faster than they've ever gone before, according to Baker.

"The track's in beautiful shape," he said. "It's the best it's been since we started running this event in December."

Beausejour has been hosting the season-opening event since 1989.


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