While with The Beach Boys an opportunity came up to go to Japan to compete in FF1600 with Kato Gumi Racing. A half season in the “junior” formula class led to a Japanese Formula 3 test and a subsequent races. They were great experiences and exposure for René.

After returning to the U.S. a golden opportunity lead René to endurance racing. In 1996 and 1997 the Speedvision Cup was the arena in which he competed with T.C. Kline Racing in a BMW M3.  It was during this time that René was truly able to call driving his career, as he found a job as a driver doing “Ride and Drives” for various auto manufacturers and has since worked for nearly every car company as a driver or facilitator. His production experience gained while in the music business has been very helpful in implementing programs and managing people.

It was at the world famous Monaco circuit in Monte Carlo that René first knew he had the burning desire to race. While living in France, a trip a few kilometers from home to Monaco for the legendary Grand Prix cast the spell. “My family wasn’t able to afford tickets to the race but we headed there anyway – I felt something pulling me there. While catching just a glimpse of the cars going up the hill towards Casino Square.

During a morning warm-up, a man and his family, possibly sensing my desire, walked up to me and offered me an extra ticket. He said he wanted to give it to a boy who would really be thrilled to see the race. I watched my first race ever from great seats across from the swimming pool internationally famous for being seen in the many yearly television broadcasts of the race. After the race I returned to my family and we were able to see all the cars up close as they left the circuit - what a thrill”! “It was that day I decided I wanted – needed - to go racing…”

Born in the United States to a family with strong roots in Canada, René grew up in the USA, Canada and France. Following his dream René started racing in 1987 when he attended the Spenard-David Racing School in Canada run by Richard Spenard – a popular and former teammate of Gilles Villeneuve in Formula Atlantic.  School “run-off competitions”and a season of Formula Ford 2000 came next before a move back to the U.S. to compete in Barber/SAAB for two seasons. The series proved to be a valuable asset on René’s racing ladder – competing with now world-famous drivers such as Bryan Herta.

Like all racers René quickly realized that racing, unless you’re independently wealthy, requires sponsorship funding. To maximize his potential to raise corporate support he decisively set upon a career path that would provide him with the ability to earn a living – while at the same time building a racing marketing platform that would benefit a corporate sponsor. René took an opportunity to work in the music industry and quickly found himself managing the tours of “America’s Favorite Band” – the Beach Boys. "Those years taught me so much. As stage manager and then production manager, I learned not only management skills but also it was the world travel that gave me the most experience. I have some great friends in the business - like all the guys from the Beach Boys, Billy Gibbons of ZZ Top and The Beach Boy’s friend and part-time drummer John Stamos. “These guys have been such a big part of my life and it was great to be able to combine those two worlds when I was lucky enough to secure Briggs & Stratton as a sponsor of my 2002 World Challenge Beach Boys Racing Team. It worked out extremely well and it is something I would like to continue doing. It gives a sponsor so much more opportunities for promotion when you can attach a great name to a race team."

In 1999, René competed for the first time in the prestigious 24 Hours of Daytona in a Corvette C5-R. In 2001 and 2002 René competed in various events in the Speed World Challenge Series. 2009 saw a return to sportscars and a second visit to Daytona in the Grand-Am Rolex Series, driving for TRG and the Team Polizei 144 car. In 2010, a switch to the American LeMans Series driving a Porsche GT3 Cup car for TRG and 911 Designs, resulted in René's first podium finish in ALMS. In 2011 René drove an LMPC car for PR1 Motorsports and thoroughly enjoyed competing in a prototype. "That was far the best racing car I've driven. It was just a blast to drive!". In 2012 a return a Porsche and the GTC Class with GMG Racing, earned Rene is second ALMS Podium at Laguna Seca.

Travel takes him away but René always makes to most of his time at home. "There's always things to catch up on around the house plus I have a few hobbies I like to find time for including playing hockey. It's the only other sport I'm as passionate about as motor racing. I was never a big guy but if I had been perhaps I would not have chosen to become a racing driver. I think I would have worked a little harder at other sports. Who knows what would have happened."


© 2017 by Rene Villeneuve.
Common Goal Creative