Juan Pablo Montoya
A Famous Hispanic Racer in Nascar
|Name:||Juan Pablo Montoya.|
|Birth date:||September 20, 1975.|
|Breakthrough:||Grabbing the Formula 3000 Championship in 1999.|
The phenomenal rise to fame of Juan Pablo Montoya in the open wheel racing series is partly because of his father.
Being an avid motorsport fan himself, Montoya’s father pushed him to race guiding him every step of the way in his career. His father taught him carting techniques and entered him in go-kart races when he was just five years old.
With his father’s guidance along with his natural driving ability, he won the Colombian National Cart Championship children’s division from 1981 through 1984. He again won the karting championship in 1986 both locally and nationally in the junior’s division.
By 1990, his career reached international level after competing for two consecutive years in 1990 and 1991, in the Kart Junior World Championship.
To find the level of competition he needed, he raced Formula Renault races in different countries where he made respectable finishes.
His journey to the top did not come easy. When in Austria to race, he didn’t even have money left for transportation and used rollerblades instead to get around.
But his plight was changed when he finished second behind Ricardo Zonta in the 1997 FIA International F3000. Fresh from his latest achievement, he signed a multi-year contract with BMW’s Williams Racing Team in 1998. He was immediately given a test-drive role on their F-1 team and joined World Champions Heinz-Harald Frentzen and Jacques Villeneuve.
By 1999, he was expected to have a full seat for the Williams Team but instead they “lend” him to the Chip Ganassi Racing Team.
With this twist of fate, he instantly became the JP Montoya famous Hispanic racer. He managed to grab the Formula 3000 championship with 7 wins, 7 poles and was named the rookie of the year after a season-long tussle with Scottish driver Dario Franchitti.
Hungry for another title, Montoya went to race in Indianapolis 500 in year 2000. Against all odds, he shocked the racing world with an easy victory and became the first Colombian to win Indi 500.
From then on, Juan became a common sight on sports magazine with his trademark yellow, blue and red helmet as part of his Juan Pablo Montoya apparel representing the colors of the Colombian flag.
He finally began his racing career in the Formula-1 circuit in 2001. Though he showed enormous potential in the beginning, his achievements were not consistent.
But the 2003 F-1 season was a different story. He won the Germany and Monaco races and finished 3rd overall in the driver’s championship just behind Schumacher and Raikkonen.
He won the last leg of the 2004 race in the Brazilian Grand Prix for BMW Williams, then joined McLaren-Mercedes Benz Team the next season.
With his new team, Pablo Montoya finished fourth place in F-1 2005 Championship after scoring 60 points and winning the races in Brazil, Italy and Britain.
JP Montoya also took a Pole Position in Belgium and led McLaren-Mercedes Benz team to a second place finish at the Constructors Championship.
In the middle of the 2006 season, he left formula one and joined the NASCAR team of Chip Ganassi. He replaced Casey Mears on the number 42 Texaco-Havoline Dodge and finished 20th in the general standings of NASCAR’s 2007 Nextel Cup. He also won the Rookie Award and became the second non-American driver to win in NASCAR’s top category.
In 2009, he became the only non-American driver to enter NASCAR’s Sprint Cup and finished the season a respectable 8th position.
In 2010, Juan Pablo won his 2nd career Sprint Cup Series race. Juan became the first foreign-born driver to have multiple wins in NASCAR Sprint Cup history.
In line with his duties as United Nation’s Ambassador of Goodwill, he formed the Formula Smile Foundation together with his wife Connie. Both are now busy increasing the awareness of children’s needs and building sports facilities in his native Colombia.