The times I’ve been afraid to Gaétan Boucher in Calgary BMW

Avto 19 February, 2018
  • Marc Lachapelle

    Monday, February 19, 2018 11:07

    Monday, February 19, 2018 11:07

    Look at this article

    Thirty years ago already, BMW has taken advantage of the olympic winter Games which were to begin in Calgary to present the 325iX, the first-car train full.

    A good way to allow automotive journalists to drive in conditions that would demonstrate the benefits of its gear-train, four-wheel drive quite unique.


    To fully enjoy the thrill of O. J. that would start a few days later, the bavarian brand had also invited a few celebrities. It is as well that I have had the unique opportunity to have the team mate the great athlete that was Gaetan Boucher, who returned to Sarajevo four years earlier, with two gold medals and a bronze in speed skating.

    Rolling with him, I immediately recognized the calm, seriousness and modesty he has always displayed. But I felt, also, the will of a man who knows exactly what he wants. You don’t become a double olympic champion in a sport as unforgiving without a determination made of hardened steel.

    Photo archives


    Read also: Gaétan Boucher, and the whirlwind of 1984


    Champion of a different kind

    Among the other stars, there was Bruce Jenner, winner of the decathlon at the 1976 olympic Games in Montreal and even more famous today under the name of Caitlyn Jenner.

    However, Jenner has also done the car racing and even won his class in the legendary 12 Hours of Sebring in 1986, in addition to finishing fourth in the overall standings with the excellent Scott Pruett.

    In Calgary, things became interesting when our caravan finally swapped the boulevards to the side roads that criss-crossed a campaign more and more wavy, to the foothills of the Rocky mountains.

    Some of our comrades are left to take the game. Jenner and a colleague of ontario, among others, climbed big piles of snow after a duel, very little official on the road. Another 325iX found herself in an open field, with the white powder up in the middle of the door.

    During this time, my illustrious team-mate was leading the BMW with the thoroughness and precision that requires his sport. With a beautiful caution too, which had nothing to displease me.

    After lunch, we drove back on dirt roads covered with ice, and full of long curves. Not a grain of sand and even less salt on these paths are identified for which the profile was particularly bulging at the center. Only a thin layer of snow which made them even more slippery and treacherous.

    Steering wheel in hand, not a matter for me to risk the slightest road exit, the lower skid too pronounced. Pride, surely, but also because I really felt the responsibility of bringing the best canadian olympian of the time safe and sound at the end of the course.

    Photo: Martin Knight


    Pleasure irresistible

    That said, how could I resist the temptation to explore the limits and the performance of the first BMW designed for such conditions? I had a job to do and I, too, after all. And I’m not a private one. No car is not remained a long time in front of us. And behind, I remember the streaks of snow that was raised in our 325iX red on a few meters in height, loss of view in the mirrors.

    I remember those long curves negotiated, I confess, to about 160 km/h on ice, the sharp, now the little bavarian in a very slight slippage of the four wheels and taking especially great care not to cross the ridge in the centre.

    Complete Silence aboard, apart from the noise of the wind and the snow that bardassait in the wheel wells. Except when I asked Gaétan if everything was going well on his side. He always answer yes, even if I am convinced that he prefers to always have full control, too. It is a brave among the brave, after all.

    We arrived the first destination of that day, without pretense and without incident. I shook the hand of my champion team-mate, thanking him and wishing him all the best for the Games.

    I’m always asked if I had not done enough fear, on these big curves ice, to affect its performance on the oval of Calgary, shortly after.

    If this is the case, and I highly doubt it, I’m really sorry, Gaétan. I haven’t been able to stop me. I too love driving at the limit, on the asphalt, the earth, snow, or ice. And something tells me that this is something that you understand perfectly.