Juan Pablo Montoya
Colombian racing champion Juan Pablo Montoya is one of the few drivers to win events on the Formula One, CART/IndyCar and NASCAR circuits.
Juan Pablo Montoya Roldán was born in 1975 in Bogotá, Colombia. He reigned as the Colombian National Carting Champion from 1981–84, and by 1992 he was winning Colombian Formula Renault races. Named CART Champion in 1999, Montoya went on to win the Indianapolis 500 in 2000. He joined the Formula One circuit in 2001 before switching to NASCAR in 2007, continuing his winning ways. After returning to open-wheel racing for the 2014 season, he notched a second Indianapolis 500 win in 2015.
Juan Pablo Montoya Roldán was born on September 20, 1975, in Bogotá, Colombia. His father, Pablo, a motorsport fan, taught his young son the techniques of carting. His father's lessons, along with his own natural ability, enabled Montoya to reign as the Colombian National Carting Champion from 1981 through 1984. By 1992, Juan Pablo Montoya was winning Colombian Formula Renault races.
When he moved to Austria to race, Montoya remembers being so broke that he didn't have money for public transportation; instead, he used roller blades to get around. After he finished second in the 1997 Formula 3000 season, he was signed to a multi-year contract beginning in 1998 with the Williams-BMW racing team. In 1999, Montoya was named CART Champion and Rookie of the Year. The following year, Montoya "crossed over" to compete in the famed Indianapolis 500. Despite skepticism from the racing world, Montoya raced to an easy victory, becoming the first Colombian to win in Indianapolis.
In 2001, Juan Pablo Montoya began racing in the Formula One circuit. He showed great potential, but his performances were erratic and he was criticized for making costly mistakes despite driving cars that were specially developed for his size and speed. In 2005, Montoya began a physical fitness regime, but he injured his shoulder just after the Malaysian Grand Prix. The official story is that he sustained the injury while playing tennis, although rumors blame a motorcycle accident.
2007 found Montoya retiring from Formula One and switching to NASCAR. That year, he won the NASCAR Busch Series Telcel-Motorola 200 in Mexico City. He also became the first foreign-born driver to win a Cup race since 1974 when he was victorious at NASCAR Nextel Cup race at the Toyota/Save Mart 350 at Sonoma. This win made him only the second racer, after Mario Andretti, to win the Indianapolis 500, a Formula One race and a NASCAR Nextel Cup race. Montoya also won the Rolex 24 Hours of Daytona in both 2007 and 2008, and added another Cup Series win at Watkins Glen in 2010.
In 2013, Montoya leaped at the chance to return to IndyCar racing as a member of Team Penske. He notched a second Indianapolis 500 victory in May 2015, but wound up finishing a close second to Scott Dixon for the overall championship. The following year, he began the season with a win at the Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg.
With his wife, Connie, a native of Medellin, Colombia, Juan Pablo Montoya has created the Formula Smile Foundation as part of his duties as a United Nations Goodwill Ambassador. Their foundation seeks to help children in poor neighborhoods by building or improving sports facilities.
The Montoyas have three children: son Sebastian (b. 2005), and daughters Paulina (b. 2006) and Manuela (b. 2010).