February 22, 2020

My Champion: My Dad, Dr. Bernard Gagnon
By François Métivier

François Métivier was 10 or 11 when his father, Dr. Bernard Gagnon, took him to his first race weekend.  Dr. Gagnon was a big fan of the Formula One racing circuit and as an anesthesiologist, he also worked as a track doctor at the Grand Prix de Trois-Rivières in Quebec. It was there that he witnessed the legendary Canadian driver Gilles Villeneuve beat British Champion, James Hunt in a Formula Atlantic in 1976.

As a track worker, Dr. Gagnon would always have a guest pass, which he reserved for his son. “I pretty much grew up in the pits,” says François. “It’s where I got the racing bug which was ironic because my father was terrified of racing.” That’s because as a member of the track’s medical team, Dr. Gagnon was required to be on standby at all times in the medical chase car. “My father was fascinated by the risk taking, but with intimate knowledge of what happens in the aftermath of a bad accident, he would never actually race himself. This was the era before the HANS and 6-point harnesses.”

The Gagnon Family

Dr. Bernard Gagnon and family gather around Baby François

Dr. Gagnon’s passion was in helping others – so he immersed himself in his work, tracking 70+ hour work weeks right up until he retired in his mid 70’s. But that didn’t prevent him from exposing François and his two sisters to everything. “My father was extremely curious and wanted to share his interests with us. He helped us discover photography, astronomy, woodworking, skiing, cooking, and gardening. He shared his love of taking care of animals, of listening to all kinds of music and making recordings on an old reel-to-reel tape machine, not to mention the countless fishing and hunting trips,” says François. “My father pushed us to give our best at everything we did while being mindful of others.”

Dr. Bernard Gagnon and Family

Dr. Gagnon and his family

François, the Facilities Administrative Director at McGill University, says that placing his father’s name on the #80 BMW is a wonderful way to come full circle. “Throughout our childhood, my father took all of us on his adventures. Now, I’m giving him the opportunity to have a new adventure driving across America as a part of the Bimmerworld racing team.”

Dr. Gagnon on Car

Dr. Bernard Gagnon is Racing to End Alzheimer’s

We are grateful to François and his family for sharing their story with us.

If you would like to honor your loved one by placing their name on the #80 BMW for the 2020 racing season, please donate today at r2endalz.org.

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