Spare a moment today to remember the young Italian racer Riccardo Paletti, who lost his life following an accident at the Canadian GP, 30 years ago today.
Formula 1 was still reeling from the death of Canadian favorite son Gilles Villeneuve a month previously when it reconvened in Montreal, only to be struck by tragedy again. Once again, a Ferrari was involved, but this time it was Didier Pironi's after the Frenchman stalled ahead of the start.
Pironi lifted his hand to signal his situation, but the lights switched to green anyway. While other cars swerved frantically to avoid the stricken Ferrari, Paletti – charging up from the back of the grid in his Osella, having qualified for only his second career start – was unable to see the stalled Ferrari until too late, and rammed him at full speed. The Osella then caught fire, with the 23-year old Paletti trapped inside. He was airlifted to a nearby hospital, but succumbed to severe chest injuries.
In tribute the racetrack at Varano de' Melegari, in the province of Parma in northern Italy was renamed the Autodromo Riccardo Paletti.
• On a brighter note, today also marks the first true automobile race. On this day in 1895, Emile Levassor drove a Panhard et Levassor car with a two-cylinder, 750rpm, 4hp Daimler Phoenix engine over the finish line to win. Levassor completed the 732-mile course from Paris to Bordeaux and back in just under 49 hours, at an average speed of 15mph, to put his name in the record books.