A BULLSEYE VIEW: JUAN PABLO MONTOYA
When did you first discover your passion for racing?
Juan Pablo Montoya: My dad raced go-karts so I followed in his footsteps at a very young age. I think I was five or six years old when I started, and I was hooked from that point on.
What is your most memorable moment at a racetrack?
JPM: That depends. I would say winning the Grand Prix in Monaco was big because I had always dreamed of winning that race as a little kid. But the Indianapolis 500 win with Chip and Target ranks right up there too. That was my first race at Indianapolis Motor Speedway. I had never even been to that track before.
If you could go head-to-head on the track against any racing legend, who would it be?
JPM: To tell you the truth, I would have loved to race against Ayrton Senna – he was my childhood hero. He was from Brazil and we didn’t really have any Colombian drivers in F1, so I always followed Senna. My father was also a big fan of his.
What goes through your mind when you’re racing?
JPM: You can’t lose concentration. I’m always thinking about what we can do to make the car better. Can I follow a different line around the racetrack? What adjustments can we make to get the car handle better?
What’s your favorite race in the NASCAR circuit?
JPM: I really like the short tracks. I think there is a lot of skill in driving those tracks. I also think the restrictor plate races are fun. But really, I just want to win races and be competitive in all of them.
What race is at the top of your win “wish list”?
JPM: In general, I’d just love to win on an oval – the Daytona 500 or Brickyard would be pretty nice. I would obviously like to win the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series championship. That’s what every racer dreams of. You race against the best drivers in the world every weekend and we’re all after the same thing – wins and the championship at the end of the season.
What are some words of wisdom you’d give to young drivers starting out in the racing world?
JPM: Keep after your dreams. I’m proof that if you work hard enough they can come true.
Who do you think is more popular in Colombia – you or Sofia Vergara?
JPM: Sofia Vergara – without a doubt. Haha!
What are some nerdy things about racing?
JPM: The engineers on our race teams are considered the nerds of our sport. They are the number crunchers in NASCAR and do all of the technical stuff. They have a difficult job because they have to make educated guesses.
How do you and your wife balance busy working and home lives?
JPM: Connie does most of the day-to-day stuff at home. I’m away a lot racing, and with Sebastian and Paulina [his children] in school, the family doesn’t get to travel as much as they used to. I don’t know how Connie does it. When I am home I’m running the kids to school, taking them go-karting and doing whatever activities they want. It is not easy.
What’s one fact most people don’t know about you?
JPM: That I love to cook. I don’t get to do it that often, but it’s something I truly love to do when I have the time. Connie threw a birthday party for me at the house this year and I volunteered to cook for everyone.
What are your other off-track passions?
JPM: I’ve been into RC planes and helicopters a lot these days. I like building them from the ground up and then taking them out flying. I have my own “man cave” at home to build them and then there’s an actual flying field not too far from my house. I also enjoy golfing and windsurfing when I have the time.