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Bertrand Fabi: Feb 22, 1986


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#1 Berner

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Posted 23 February 2006 - 21:23

Was out of town yesterday so I couldn't post a small reminder that it's been TWENTY years since the death of one of Canada's great motorsport hopes. What a shame. Here's to you, Bertrand.

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#2 FLB

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Posted 23 February 2006 - 21:38

Thanks for the reminder :(


There is a Bertand-Fabi Boulevard in Rock Forest, his hometown. He's not forgotten. The Andros Ice Challenge raced on the Circuit Bertand-Fabi in Sherbrooke two weeks ago.

I still remember the first report I heard about his Goodwood crash. A local reporter had gone to see his test. When he gave his report on Bertrand's condition, it didn't leave much room for hope. The doctors had to amputate one of his legs, but, sadly, it wasn't enough to save his life.

In my mind, there is no doubt whatsoever that he would have made it to F1. He had the talent and, perhaps even more importantly, he had the backing from Raymond David, a wealthy businessman. He had beaten Martin Donnelly to the Euro F2000 Championship in 1985 and was marked as the favorite for the 1986 British F3 Championship.


My God twenty years is a short time, it feels as if it all happened yesterday...

#3 Morten Alstrup

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Posted 23 February 2006 - 21:52

I'm also amazed about this. Is it really twenty years' ago?

Well, initially I had heard a bit about it on the grapewine (remember it was in those days, when fax machines were still something rather new), but I didn't believe the rumour. Then on a Saturday morning, my Autosport dropped through the mailbox and it had the devasting news. Actually, it was a truly sombre day, as the main news on the TV set that morning was the killing of the Swedish prime minister, Oluf Palme, in central Stockholm. Not that I was a fan of him, but with Sweden being a country very much like Denmark, it was quite devasting.

I only met Bertrand Fabi once. In June 1985 he raced at Jyllands-Ringen, where he raced in a round of the European FF2000 championship. I covered that meeting for Danish magazine Aktuel Bilsport and interviewed him. I got an impression of a men very much dedicated to the task ahead, and I too was sure that he was destined for something great. Alas, it was not to be.

#4 Twin Window

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Posted 24 February 2006 - 00:12

Blimey... twenty years already. I can only echo the previous comments; despite having also just met Bert the one time - only a few weeks before his accident, actually - he left a mark because he was a pleasant, outgoing chap who was fun to be with. I remember him as being surprisingly tall too. Such a shame.

#5 ghinzani

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Posted 24 February 2006 - 01:03

It does seem like only yesterday. I can recall as a callow youth picking up the Autosport that Thursday morning and reading of the tragic passing of Bertrand in stunned silence. His record in Canadian racing in 83 and 84 and his subsequent blistering speed AND championship succes in 85 could lead one to make only one conclusion. He would have been British F3 champ in 86. From there it would have been a year in F3000 where his ability and car control would have shone and thence on to a glittering F1 career. One can lament the safety level at Goodwood for sure, but this was more than that - one of racing dark days, when it took a potential world champ before he had really had a chance to prove it.

RIP Bertrand :(

#6 Fiorentina 1

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Posted 24 February 2006 - 02:48

I remember reading about this in Autosport as well, but a good 2-weeks after the fact (I live in the USA). I remember reading about him in On Track about his Canadian FFord exploits before, so it was a real shock. I too can't believe it's been 20-years already. So sad. :(

What exactly happened in that crash, and was it his first test in an F3 car?

#7 Hieronymus

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Posted 24 February 2006 - 06:53

Originally posted by Morten Alstrup
I'm also amazed about this. Is it really twenty years' ago?

Actually, it was a truly sombre day, as the main news on the TV set that morning was the killing of the Swedish prime minister, Oluf Palme, in central Stockholm. Not that I was a fan of him, but with Sweden being a country very much like Denmark, it was quite devasting.


Remember both...so who killed Palme? Have you solved that one, yet?

#8 Morten Alstrup

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Posted 24 February 2006 - 07:35

Nope. That appears to be the million dollar question in Swedish crime history.

#9 Mallory Dan

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Posted 24 February 2006 - 12:25

Do you think he would have won the '86 F3 series really chaps? I accept he was v quick, but later that year the Reynard and Andy W really came on strong. Would have been close I reckon, and don't douct the WSR team, but I reckon Andy would still have won it.

Btw, I've just finished (again) the Perry Mac book, which gives some info on that F3 year. According to the man himself, he was right up there in F3 in 86/87 with Hill, Bailey, Blundell, Herbert, Donnelly, and presumably would have been with Fabi too. Not exactly how I recall things I must confess...

#10 ghinzani

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Posted 24 February 2006 - 13:53

I still think he would have beaten Wallace - Dick Bennets thought he had the next Senna in his car remember, and if the Reynard had really been so much quicker I am sure they would have dumped the Ralt (R David didnt seem short of a bob or two and they had changed teams in the middle of their FF2000 championship year, I belive to or from Penistone IIRC). But you are right we would have had some stunning battles between the two! I cant recall who was going to be his team-mate at WSR though. They ended up running Gugelmin in a JPS March 86b rather unspectacularly in F3000 in the end.

McCarthy was quick in his second year but held back by changing engines from Judd to Magnum and then Alfa in his pursuit of Herberts Spiess. I reckon he was certainly as good as Bailey, if not quite on the rests level.

Oh and I believe Bertrand had been out in a WSR F3 car, maybe not the 86 one but Gugelmins championship winning car from the previous year - hence Dick Bennets belief he had another Senna (given the similar scenarios).

#11 LittleChris

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Posted 25 February 2006 - 00:57

Originally posted by ghinzani
I cant recall who was going to be his team-mate at WSR though.


Damon wasn't it ??? I also can't believe it's 20 years.

In response to Fiorentina1, I believe something broke as he went round Madgwick corner ( at that time pretty well flat in 5th gear ) and he hit the outside bank which had no protection since it was still only a testing venue

#12 ghinzani

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Posted 25 February 2006 - 17:54

Originally posted by LittleChris


Damon wasn't it ??? I also can't believe it's 20 years.

In response to Fiorentina1, I believe something broke as he went round Madgwick corner ( at that time pretty well flat in 5th gear ) and he hit the outside bank which had no protection since it was still only a testing venue


Yes of course it was Damon, how could I forget that. Went on to run with Murray Taylor with Radisich as team-mate.

Was it an 85 or 86 chassis he was in at the time? I was under the impression it was one of the first outings for the 86 car but I am not certain. Would Damon have been out at the same time or was his deal unconfirmed at the time?

#13 Twin Window

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Posted 25 February 2006 - 18:38

Originally posted by LittleChris

In response to Fiorentina1, I believe something broke as he went round Madgwick corner ( at that time pretty well flat in 5th gear ) and he hit the outside bank which had no protection since it was still only a testing venue

I can't remember which corner it was, but I'm sure ice was a factor...

#14 m.tanney

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Posted 25 February 2006 - 21:35

  Although I saw him race in the Canadian Tire's Motomaster F2000 series in 1984, Bertrand Fabi was, and is, a bit of a mystery to me. My impression was that he had promise but I cannot honestly say that I saw him as a future F1 driver - not in '84. In the ten race series he had one 2nd, two 4ths, a 5th, and three 6th place finishes to rank fourth in points. John Jones won his second consecutive title in '84 with three race wins. Peter Lockhart had four wins. Scott Goodyear had been the top driver in FF1600 for a while but could not put together a deal to move up. He did one F2000 race, at Trois Rivieres, and won handily. Serge Beaudin, sixth in points, also won a race. Fabi was a consistant front runner, for sure, but certainly not the best driver in the series. Fabi was sometimes referred to as the Canadian F2000 champion. That is correct, in a sense, as he won the F2000 race at the CASC Runoffs that year but he did not win in the very competitive Motomaster series. That is not to say that Fabi's performance in 1984 was unremarkable. In fact, it was quite remarkable in that Fabi seemed, to me, to have come out of nowhere. I followed Canadian racing very closely then but I do not recall Fabi at all before 1984. I can find no record of him in F2000 in 1983 or in either the national or provincial FF1600 series - at any time. In fact, the only record I can find of Fabi before '84 was in a Honda Civic race in 1982. So, while Fabi showed promise in 1984, his success in British and European F2000 in 1985 was very remarkable. Does anyone know where Fabi raced before 1984? As FLB points out, Fabi had the backing of Raymond David (who was also his teammate in '84). He was sponsored by the Spenard-David Racing School. Spenard, IIRC, was too busy with the business to race that year, though he later became one of the top drivers in the Canadian F2000 series.
  Would Fabi have been a winner in British F3 in 1986? Would he have gone on to F1? He was only 24 when he died (a year younger than Damon Hill) and still working his way up the learning curve. We'll never know where he would have peaked.

Mike

#15 Alan Cox

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Posted 09 July 2006 - 16:19

Have just found these on a trawl through the old filing system (i.e. a shoe box). Thought they might be worthy of an airing on this old thread, as no pics have been posted.

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