Number Two turns 41 today.
Juan Pablo Montoya Roldan was born in Bogota—Columbia’s capital and largest city–on this date in 1975. His father Pablo was an architect and motor sports enthusiast who introduced his son to karting as a boy. By the time he was six, young Juan was Columbia’s national karting champion, a title he would hold from 1981 to 1984. At 17, Montoya moved to the Formula Renault Series, a respected entry level circuit. He switched to the Swift GTI Series the following year, winning seven of eight races. After graduating from Colegio San Tarsicio in 1994, Montoya began winning titles all over the world. In 1997, he got the opportunity to advance to Formula 3000, a preparatory series to Formula One, and finished his rookie season second in the points standings. The following season, he had four wins, seven pole positions, and nine podium finishes in 12 races to win the 1998 F3000 championship.
Montoya joined the IndyCar circuit in 1999. He took the competitive American series by storm, winning seven races to become, at 24, the youngest CART series champion in history. The following year, he competed in his first Indianapolis 500, leading 167 of 200 laps to win easily. Montoya became the first Columbian and ninth rookie to win the “Greatest Spectacle in Racing.” He was one of CART’s bright young stars, winning ten races in 40 starts between 1999 and 2000. In 2001, “JPM” made the leap to Formula One. He won the Italian Grand Prix that year, the first of seven victories he would enjoy in 94 career F1 starts. In six seasons racing Formula One, Montoya claimed 13 pole positions and 30 podium finishes.
In October 2006, Montoya made his stock car debut, finishing third in an ARCA event at Talladega. He moved to NASCAR full time the following year, competing in the No. 42 car sponsored by Texaco/Havoline. Montoya won for the first time at Sonoma in June 2007, the first of his two career wins in stock car racing. Between 2006 and 2014, Montoya collected 59 Top Ten finishes while earning nearly $ 38 million over nine years in NASCAR. He was not much liked amongst the “good ‘ol boys,” finishing most seasons with more crashes than Top Fives, and was not as successful racing stock cars as he had been in Formula One or open wheel racing. In 2013, JPM announced his retirement from NASCAR and his return to IndyCar, where he would be driving the No. 2 car for Team Penske. After finishing fifth at Indy in May 2014, he won the Pocono 500 in July, where he averaged over 202 miles per hour to set the record for the fastest 500 mile race in motorsports history. The following year, he opened the season by winning the Grand Prix of St. Petersburg. Two months later, he overtook Will Power with four laps to go to win the 2015 Indianapolis 500. Montoya finished the season tied with Scott Dixon atop the point standings list but lost the Astor Cup in a tie-breaker to finish second.
Juan Pablo Montoya is one of the most versatile drivers in motorsports history. He is the only racer to win a CART series title, Indianapolis 500 and 24 Hours of Daytona, all on his first attempt. Montoya, Mario Andretti [Daily Dose, 4/4/16] and Dan Gurney are the only drivers in motorsports history to have won events in Formula One, IndyCar and NASCAR. In addition to his wins at Indy and Daytona, Montoya has taken the checkered flag in the Grand Prix of Monaco , British Grand Prix , Italian Grand Prix [2001,2005] and the Long Beach Grand Prix . The “Triple Crown of Motorsport” consists of the Indianapolis 500, 24 Hours of Le Mans, and the Monaco Grand Prix. It is considered one of auto racing’s greatest achievements and Graham Hill is the only driver to have won all three titles during his career. Seventeen drivers in motorsports history have competed in all three legs of the Triple Crown and won at least one of the events. Juan Pablo Montoya is the only active driver to have won two of the three. In 2009, he was ranked 30th on Times Online’s list of the Top 50 Formula One drivers of all time. Mr. Montoya, who is one of 19 drivers to have twice won the Indianapolis 500, was voted to the “Greatest 33” as one of the 33 best drivers [the Indy 500 field is comprised of 33 cars] ever to win at the Brickyard. He currently competes in the IndyCar Series driving for Team Penske.