The series’ two races at the Canadian Grand Prix last weekend in Montreal marked the first time Borgeat has competed in Porsche GT3 Cup Canada since being involved in the nine-car incident at Watkins Glen International last July.
Borgeat was one of four drivers transported to a local hospital after the incident and the Montreal native described his and the team’s recovery process.
“After the accident, there were just several months where I couldn’t drive because I had some ribs that were still broken,” said Borgeat. “It takes several weeks to heal, and you have to make sure they completely heal and not risk breaking them again. I knew I was done for the season, but then we had another issue – we had to fix the car. For some reason it took us a long time to get the engine back because we had to send it to Germany, so everything took a long time to fix.”
With his injuries healed and the car back together, Borgeat was finally able to get back behind the wheel of a Porsche just a few months ago.
“The first time I was back in the car was sometime in April at Road Atlanta,” said Borgeat. “I have to say after that long of a break – it was probably my longest break ever, like 10 months or about – I was a little unsure how I would react being in the car.
“It took me about one session to brush the fear off and to realize there’s not really that much fear and the accident itself didn’t impact me much. The moment you start to feel the car and start to be in a rhythm with other people, it just comes back. My friends say it’s like riding a bike, you never lose it.”
If anything, Borgeat came back even stronger. At Montreal, he finished third on the overall podium in both races and additionally took the two Platinum Masters victories. Borgeat’s four podiums in one weekend set a new record at the Canadian Grand Prix.
“It’s a track that I know because I actually bike on it and it’s a nice place to drive around,” said Borgeat. “So to be there and to win and to be on the podium overall, is something very special to me – especially in front of so many people that I know, that are spectators just there because of the big weekend in Montreal, and for my sponsors because most of them are local to the Montreal area or the surroundings.”
Borgeat’s fascination with cars isn’t something that happened overnight. In fact, it’s a passion of his that started at a young age and he kept up with as his career outside of racing took off.
“As a kid, I was attracted to cars, anything mechanical,” he said. “There’s something fun about it, we always played with small cars, toy cars. Getting older, I was working in a restaurant as one of my first jobs and the owner was racing in a North American series. I was invited by him to race weekends to help them – doing basic stuff, like washing the car – and this was how I started to discover the world of racing.”
While he continued his racing education at a racing school in Mont-Tremblant and eventually purchased his own race car, Borgeat made sure to advance his personal education, earning a mechanical engineering degree from Montreal’s École Polytechnique.
From there, he joined a computer-assisted design company, working on parts for aircrafts and cars, and at one point was approached to become a designer for Formula 1 cars.
“At that time, I had just started to race,” Borgeat said. “I loved racing, but I decided I would prefer to get into business and to keep racing as a hobby and for fun, instead of going into racing as a profession. When I approach racing, I’m serious, I want to be competitive, but at the same time I want to keep it something fun for me. There’s a pressure of competition within me, but there’s no one outside putting the pressure on me to be competitive.”
Borgeat’s focus on business turned out to be a tremendous success. Co-founding PCO Innovation, a product lifecycle management company in 2000, the company received numerous accolades as it grew over the next 15 years. PCO Innovation was named in 2012 and 2013 as one of Deloitte’s Best Managed Companies and Borgeat was honored as an Entrepreneur of the Year in Quebec by both Ernst and Young and ARISTA.
In 2014, after PCO Innovation was acquired by Accenture, Borgeat began to focus on what he calls the “transition phase of his life.”
“The last couple years I’ve been taking a little bit of time to myself,” he said. “I’m not involved in one specific project, but on the other hand I’m involved in several projects – as an investor, as an advisor, as some sort of consultant to help entrepreneurs to start or help grow their business.”
Perhaps where he’s been most visible in his new role is as a guest panelist on the Canadian television show Dragon’s Den, similar to Shark Tank in the United States where contestants pitch business ideas to a panel of venture capitalists hoping to receive investment. Borgeat appeared on the show in early May.
“It’s funny because people ask what I do sometimes and I say I’m a dragon,” said Borgeat. “That’s the closest to what I do now on a daily basis. Looking at an opportunity and seeing if they fit my background, if I can help them, if there’s any way I can help accelerate the growth of the business.”
Given his on-track success paralleled by his business success, Borgeat clearly knows what it takes to get the job done and he credits one thing in both worlds to make that happen.
“You have to have a whole team behind you,” he said. “Everybody has to know what’s expected of them and to make sure everyone’s efforts and strengths and qualities come together to give you the best possibility of being competitive in the race.
“I’d say it’s similar to what you’ll see in a business. You want to have the best people around you. You want to feel you’re surrounded well and everybody shares the same objective and the same vision.”