MOORESVILLE, N.C. — Colombian race car driver Juan Pablo Montoya is entering what may be the final chapter of his North American racing career.
Without any full-time rides on the Continent this year, Montoya and his family will be relocating from Miami to Monaco.
From the time he arrived in the United States as a young sensation in 1999, Montoya was a true international racing star. He won the 1999 CART championship as a rookie and won the Indianapolis 500 the following year.
Montoya left the United States at the end of 2000 to begin a career in Formula One, first with Williams BMW from 2001 to ’04 and West McLaren Mercedes from 2005 to ’06. He compiled seven grand prix victories before returning to the United States to compete in NASCAR Cup Series with Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates.
Montoya wheeled Ganassi’s stock cars in 255 Cup Series contests. He won twice — both times on road courses.
Montoya returned to IndyCar in 2014 with Team Penske and won five more races, including the 2015 Indianapolis 500. Beginning in 2018, Montoya was part of Acura Team Penske in IMSA. He won three races in 2019 to claim the WeatherTech SportsCar Championship title.
Montoya concluded his career at Acura Team Penske in the Mobil 1 12 Hours of Sebring in November. He will compete in the 105th Indianapolis 500 for Arrow McLaren SP, but his primary racing will be with DragonSpeed in the World Endurance Championship.
“That is my main gig,” Montoya told SPEED SPORT. “It’s going to be a full-time WEC, which I’m really excited. You get to go to all the great places that you want to race on.
“Look at my season — I’m going to race Sebring, one of the best race tracks in the U.S. with a lot of tradition. We go to Le Mans, unbelievable. That track is freaking incredible. We’ll do Monza, Spa, Fuji. We go to all the right places. If you could pick where to race, I think 90 percent of the races I’m going to do next year are those places.
“In IndyCar, I’ll get to run the Indianapolis 500. The only place I’m not going to next year is Monaco.”
Montoya drove to victory in the Monaco Grand Prix for Williams BMW in 2003. He drove Chip Ganassi Racing’s entry to victory in the 2000 Indianapolis 500 and drove Roger Penske’s Chevrolet to another Indy 500 win in 2015.
If Montoya wins the 24 Hours of Le Mans, he will win the elusive motorsports Triple Crown that includes the Indy 500, Monaco and Le Mans.
There have been 19 drivers who have attempted to win all three legs in the Triple Crown. Montoya and Fernando Alonso are the only active drivers to have won two of the three events.
The late Graham Hill of England is the only driver that has won all three races that make up the Triple Crown.
Montoya will make another attempt at it in 2021, but unlike Alonso, it is not a driving motivation.
By stepping down to the leaner DragonSpeed operation, Montoya is racing for the fun of it.
“I don’t think about it too much,” Montoya said of the Triple Crown. “If it comes, great. I really enjoy racing there. This year, I had such a blast there with the team (DragonSpeed). I enjoyed myself with them. It was a great group of guys. That is the main reason I’m staying with them.
“As a racer, you have the McLaren experience or the Penske experience. They are unbelievable teams. I’m also racing for Meyer Shank Racing in the endurance races (IMSA) as well, so I’m doing Daytona and Sebring and Petit Le Mans as well.
“Look at McLaren and Penske, they are bigger teams, well-structured and teams you want to race for. DragonSpeed is a small organization and it really reminded me of when you go racing for fun. You still want to win. I’ve never been to a race track where I’ve been, ‘I’ll be happy to finish fifth today.’ That’s not in my DNA.
“Those guys, there is no politicking. It’s a great group of guys that want to go out there and have the best time possible and get the best result possible.”
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