Meet the Entrepreneur Who Creates the Trophies for the Canadian Grand Prix
Jean-Philippe Caron’s mission is to create prizes that reflect Quebec’s craftsmanship and culture.
While Formula 1 season is still far away in the minds of most Canadians, local-hero Jean-Philippe Caron is busy preparing for the next race in Montreal. No, J-P isn’t a racecar driver, nor is he an F1 engineer. As a matter of fact, his profession isn’t even remotely related to the automotive industry.
Jean-Philippe is a trophy maker, and a very talented one at that.
How many artists can brag about the fact that their creations have been held up in the air by Lewis Hamilton, Sebastien Vettel, Charles Leclerc, Valtteri Bottas, Daniel Ricciardo, and Nico Rosberg? Not many. Yet, J-P is one such artist. We go deep inside the fascinating process behind his work.
Quality Driven Inspiration
Caron’s passion for trophy building harkens back to 1996, where he conceptualized his first piece for one of his clients. But it wasn’t until 2005 when he decided to make it a serious business. In 2016, he rebranded his company to Protocole Awards which he co-owns with his father in Saint-Lambert, Quebec.
Situated inside a historical landmark bordering the Saint-Lawrence River on the South Shore of Montreal, his company focuses on the creation of uniquely designed and quality built trophies. J-P’s mission is to create prizes that reflect Quebec’s craftsmanship and culture.
Today, Caron and his business manufacture trophies and medals for virtually all types of activities. From local sports events and automotive media outlets, to corporate nominations, Protocole has all trophy making sectors covered. But its most noteworthy partnership remains the Canadian Formula 1 Grand Prix.
Over time, Caron has conceptualized, designed and built F1 trophies for the 2015, 2016, 2017 and 2019 races. In 2017, his creation also underlined Montreal’s 50th race on Ile Notre Dame.
Because F1 trophy assignations heavily rely on constantly changing sponsors, J-P is currently unaware if his company will inherit the contract for the 2020 season. But he’s confident he’ll be selected for the task once more. So he’s ready.
Protocole is already conceptualizing prototypes for this year’s race in June. However, the entrepreneur preferred not sharing those with us during our visit.
Caron’s trophies are characterized by a very specific theme reflected through both their design and materials used. The businessman stipulates that a trophy has two main duties. First, it must look good when it’s being paraded in front of a cheering crowd. And not just from one specific angle. A trophy must be attractive no matter how it is held up in the air.
The second and most important quality of a Formula 1 trophy, says Caron, is its ergonomics. Drivers must be able to easily grasp, lift, and flaunt the prize after going through a physically demanding race. So that trophy needs to be lightweight and easy to grab.
For instance, because the 2017 trophy symbolized half a century of motorsport on Circuit Gilles Villeneuve, materials were carefully selected before the very first concepts were even created.
Maple proved the best type of wood for the trophy’s base, as the tree is not only abundant at Parc Jean Drapeau, but also symbolizes Canadian culture. The trophy itself is essentially a large maple leaf held up by a set of carbon fiber rods intertwined in Kevlar. Such materials not only lighten and solidify the structure, but also directly refer to the F1 cars themselves, who heavily rely on these materials for reduced weight, increased structural rigidity, and overall driver safety.
Finally, the leaf itself is made of one solid piece of aluminum, simply because the province of Quebec is a North American leader in the creation of the stuff.
As a matter of fact, Protocole’s latest creation, which was handed over to the winners of the 2019 race, is entirely made of aluminum. The colors yellow and orange relate to the dominating sponsor at the time: Pirelli tires.
While J-P’s creations are designed in Saint-Lambert, the company also possesses a manufacturing centre elsewhere in Québec, where specialized machinery such as high pressure water jets and composite curing ovens take care of transforming these exotic materials into the stylish yet functional ornaments you see here.
We congratulate Jean-Philippe Caron for his brilliant work. Here’s to hoping his creativity will once more dictate what the winning F1 drivers will bring home from Canada this summer.