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Juan Pablo Montoya

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Juan Pablo Montoya
Juan Pablo Montoya
Montoya in 2011.
Born: September 20, 1975 (1975-09-20) (age 38)
Bogotá, Colombia
Awards 2007 Nextel Cup
Rookie of the Year
NASCAR Sprint Cup Series statistics
7 years
Best pts finish 8th (2009)
First race 2006 Ford 400
Last race 2013 Ford EcoBoost 400
First win 2007 Toyota/Save Mart 350
Wins Top Tens
2 59

Juan Pablo Montoya Roldán (born September 20, 1975) is a Colombian former Stock car driver who competed in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series for 7 years. He was born in Bogotá where he was taught the techniques of karting from an early age by his father Pablo, an architect and motorsport enthusiast. He has enjoyed great success, most famously in top open wheel racing series. The highlights of his career include an International F3000 title, a world title in the CART FedEx Championship Series, and race victories in the Indianapolis 500 and Monaco Grand Prix, the blue ribbon events of the Indy Racing League and Formula 1 respectively.

Open-Wheel CareerEdit

Montoya began racing karts in 1981 at the early age of six, and by age nine he won the Children's National Kart Championship. In 1986, he won the junior division of the National Championship. For the next three years, he won many local and national titles in the Kart Komet Division. Montoya capped off his karting career by winning the Kart Junior Championships in 1990 and 1991.

Montoya moved to the Copa Formula Renault Series in 1992. The same year, he also participated in a U.S. series operated by Skip Barber. 1993 saw Montoya switch to the Swift GTI Championship, a series he dominated by winning seven of eight races. The following year, 1994, was a very busy year for the 19-year-old Colombian, as it saw him race in three separate series: the Sudam 125 Karting, USA Barber Saab, and Formula N in Mexico (a series in which he won the title). As his success continued year after year, Montoya came to be known for his uncanny ability to win pole positions (as well as races), in some cases taking 80% of a season's poles. For the next three years, Montoya raced in various divisions, continually progressing upward. He raced in the 1995 British Formula Vauxhall Championship, and in the 1996 British Formula 3, as well as taking part in events in Zandvoort, Netherlands and at Silverstone.

Entry into top open-wheel seriesEdit

As a youngster resident in Austria Juan Pablo Montoya struggled to save enough money for his basic needs. At this stage of his life he recalls having no money even for public transport; instead he used roller blades to go from one place to another. Retirement from motorsport seemed likely, but a call to take part in the 1997 Formula 3000 season was the blessing he was praying for. He finished second in the championship in his rookie season, The Williams Formula One team noticed his potential, and signed him to a multi-year testing contract from 1998. Alongside his Formula One testing duties for Williams he competed again in F3000 and took the title in a close contest with Nick Heidfeld.

CART career Edit

Renault, Williams engine supplier for most of the 1990s, left Formula One at the end of the 1997 season. With no major engine suppliers available, Williams were forced to sign a contract to run customer engines for the 1998 and 1999 seasons. In 1998 the team failed to win a race for the first time in a decade. For the 1999 season, in the hope of attracting more investors to the underperforming team, Frank Williams agreed a driver swap with CART team owner Chip Ganassi, in which Ganassi’s 1997 and 1998 CART champion driver, Alessandro Zanardi, would return to Formula One and Montoya would take his place in the competitive American series.

While Zanardi had a miserable year in Formula One, Montoya, with Honda power and a great Reynard chassis at his disposal, took the American motorsport scene by storm. He took the 1999 title in his rookie year, something accomplished six years earlier by former Formula One Champion, Nigel Mansell.

The season that saw Montoya crowned as the youngest ever CART FedEx Championship Series Champion at the age of 24 was closely fought, especially with Dario Franchitti who led the championship going into the final race in California. Both drivers finished the season with equal number of points but having won seven races to the Scotsman's three decided the title in the Colombian's favor. Montoya's tally of wins, pole positions and fastest laps meant that he was considered the fastest driver in a series which lacked electronic aids such as traction control, adaptive suspension or automatic gearboxes. However, the CART rookie also attracted criticism - notably from Michael Andretti and his team - for his aggressive style of driving.

Montoya still had a contractual relationship with Williams and after his impressive rookie season the Grove-based team were keen for him to drive for them in Formula One. However, the young Colombian decided to race in the US for one more year.

In 2000 the Ganassi team switched to Toyota engines and Lola chassis. The package was strong for ovals and high speed tracks, but was less well suited to street and most road circuits. Toyota’s engines were not yet reliable and often failed the team. Despite this, Montoya led more laps than anyone else and took the maiden victory for a Toyota engine in the series. He was also the most popular driver, but in a season where he failed to finish more than 60% of races he was out of contention for the championship.

That season the Ganassi team also competed in the prestigious Indianapolis 500 race, part of the rival Indy Racing League series. Media and drivers were critical of the way Juan Pablo approached the Brickyard, many IRL drivers labelled him as reckless and predicted an early retirement from the race. The media activity around the event was intense, with Montoya and his CART teammate Jimmy Vasser being the first CART drivers to "cross-over" to drive in the Indy 500. Despite public warnings from two-time Indy 500 winner Al Unser, Jr. claiming that if a driver doesn't respect the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, the place "will bite you - hard" Montoya shrugged off the advice claiming that all four corners were exactly the same and that the track required less attention than the road courses in the CART series and in European racing.

In the event, the Colombian star led 162 of 200 laps and claimed top honours at the end of the 500 mile race, taking an easy victory on his first attempt. He was the first to do so since Formula One World Champion Graham Hill in 1966 and was the first Colombian winner. His compatriot Roberto José Guerrero had previously finished twice as runner up.

Formula 1 careerEdit

Over the weekend of the 2000 Indianapolis 500, BMW.Williams announced a two year deal for Montoya to partner Ralf Schumacher starting in 2001. His entrance was very much anticipated by the Formula One Community due to the talent and raw speed showed in the America's based series.

Montoya showed great potential from the beginning. Critics and fans alike anticipated that he would challenge for the World Drivers Championship. During the first half of his Formula One career he consolidated his position as a fast driver and a race win challenger and also became a title contender during 2003 but the hopes of fighting for the title gradually faded as stronger and more consistent challengers arrived on the scene.

Montoya has been criticized during his Formula One career for his unreliability and tendency to make costly mistakes. His driving style is too characteristic of the 80's Formula One era. In this matter it is difficult to build a car that suits him well as engineers and aerodynamicists have adapted their work to build chassis that are more appropriate to a more fine and soft, and perhaps less live, driving style.

Entering his sixth season, in 2006, it was evident that Juan Pablo Montoya had not developed into the title contender that racing fans and the media had predicted. In particular after five full seasons the necessary consistency never materialised. However, he often challenged for race victories and was voted top Latin American driver at the Premios Fox Sports awards in 2003 and 2005[1][2]

Move to NASCAREdit

A falling out with McLaren's boss Ron Dennis after his accident in 2005, several poor performances with the McLaren team, and repeated criticism of the team, further reduced Montoya's already fading reputation among the paddock. He was allegedly offered a possible drive with his former team, Williams F1, but it appears Montoya was reminded of their falling out during the 2003 season and declined this offer. With no apparent chance of a top drive in Formula 1 for 2007, Montoya opted, mid-season, to end his open wheel racing career and make the move to stock car racing and NASCAR.

On July 9, 2006, Montoya announced his plans to compete in the NASCAR Nextel Cup series beginning with the 2007 season, racing for Chip Ganassi Racing in the No. 42 Texaco/Havoline Dodge.

On September 25, 2006, it was confirmed that a deal has been struck between the Chip Ganassi and McLaren that allowed Montoya to give closure to his contract with McLaren, and begin testing with Chip Ganassi and Felix Sabates' NASCAR operation.[3] [4]

On October 6, 2006, Montoya raced in an Automobile Racing Club of America (ARCA) event in a Texaco/Havoline Dodge at the Talladega Superspeedway in Alabama. Montoya qualified second, led the first nine laps, and ended up finishing a credible third after the race was called after 79 of 92 laps. [5]

On October 28, 2006, Montoya made his NASCAR debut in the Busch Series event at Memphis Motorsports Park. He drove the #42 Texaco/Havoline Dodge Charger to a 11th place finish, despite spinning and dropping back to 30th earlier in the race. He will make his Nextel Cup debut at Homestead-Miami [6]. Montoyota grabed his first Nascar victory when winning the Busch Series Telcel-Motorola Mexico 200 in Mexico City on March 4,2007.

First Nextel Cup race win at Infineon Raceway, June 24, 2007. Became only the 3rd person in history to win in all 3, CART, Formula 1, and Nascar's top series.

Social laboursEdit

Together with his wife, Connie Freydell (a native of Medellín, Colombia), Montoya founded the Formula Smiles Foundation as part of his duties as a United Nations Goodwill Ambassador. The foundation's main aim is to help children in poor neighborhoods by building or improving sports facilities and infrastructure. Montoya organizes several events for the foundation, such as Échele Cabeza al casco de Juan Pablo Montoya - a helmet painting competition in which children can design a new pattern for Montoya's racing helmet. The winning design is worn in the Brazilian Grand Prix each year. The most famous event organised by the charity is the Race of Stars, a kart race disputed by international stars of the motorsport scene. The invited drivers, mainly from Formula One and the IRL, attend in the hopes of raising money for children in poor neighbourhoods. The race is run on a street course in the historical center of the city of Cartagena de Indias, Colombia, which features high levels of humidity and temperature, making it a tough driving exercise.

Career resultsEdit

File:Juan Pablo Montoya 2005 Spain.jpg
Juan Pablo Montoya waiting in his McLaren-Mercedes during Spanish GP practice, 2005
  • 1981-1984: Karting Colombian National Champion
  • 1985: National Junior Kart Championship: 2nd
  • 1986-1987: Komet Category: National Champion
  • 1988: Komet Category: 2nd in National Championship
  • 1989: Komet Category: champion
  • 1990: Kart Junior World Championship
  • 1991: Kart Junior World Championship
  • 1992: Colombian Formula Renault: 8 races, 4 wins, 5 poles
  • 1993: GTI National Championship Tournament: 8 races, 7 wins, 7 poles
  • 1994: Sudan 125 karting: champion
Barber Saab series: 3rd, 2 wins, 2 poles
Mexican 'N' series: 5 races, 3 wins, 4 poles
Bogota Six Hours: class winner
Marlboro Masters: 4th
Macau GP: ret
ITC: 16th, 1 race (Mercedes-Benz)
Bogota Six Hours: winner
  • 1997: F3000: 2nd, 37.5 points, 3 wins (RSM Marko)
  • 1998: F3000: 1st, 65 points, 4 wins, 2 poles (Super Nova)
  • 1999: CART: 1st & rookie of the year, 212 points, 7 wins, 7 poles (Ganassi)
  • 2000: CART: 9th, 126 points, 3 wins, 7 poles (Ganassi
IRL: raced and won the Indy 500 (Ganassi)

TOTALS:

  • F3000 : 102.5 points, 7 wins, 2 poles, 1 time champion
  • CART : 338 points, 10 wins, 14 poles, 1 time champion
  • IRL : 54 points, 1 win, 0 poles, 1 time Indy 500 champion
  • Formula 1 : 304 points, 7 wins, 13 poles, 2 times 3rd in the Championship.
  • NASCAR Sprint Cup Series : 2 wins, 7 poles, 1 time 8th in the Championship.

ReferencesEdit

  1. Formula 1 Driver Juan Pablo Montoya Named Premios Fox Sports Athlete of the Year; Esteban Loaiza, Adrian Fernandez, Carlos Valderrama among Athletes Honored at Inaugural Show www.hispanicprwire.com Retrieved April 29 2006
  2. 3rd Annual Premios Fox Sports Shines Spotlight on Latino Athletes From the United States and Latin America www.hispanicprwire.com Retrieved April 29 2006
  3. http://sports.yahoo.com/nascar/news?slug=bm-montoyanotes092206&prov=yhoo&type=lgns
  4. http://www.chipganassiracing.com/news/team-news.cfm?cid=2083
  5. http://www.nascar.com/2006/news/headlines/cup/10/06/jmontoya.arca.debut/index.html
  6. http://sports.espn.go.com/espn/wire?section=auto&id=2641928

External links Edit

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