Juan Pablo Montoya’s initial two-year foray into North American open-wheel racing was a stunning arrival.
The Colombian, loaned out to Target Chip Ganassi Racing from Frank Williams after winning the 1998 Formula 3000 championship, starred from the get-go. His rookie season in CART, he won seven races and the championship.
In 2000, with a completely different Lola-Toyota package after the team switched from the all-conquering Reynard-Honda, Montoya still was frequently the out-and-out fastest driver but often a victim of poor luck and unreliability. But he still had two magical 500-mile race wins, first a the Indianapolis 500 in May and again after a fantastic battle with Michael Andretti at Michigan, a race that featured the aero-assisting Handford Device that created a wealth of passing.
Here are some of the highlights of Montoya’s first two years in open wheel, with the news today he’s coming back to IndyCar in 2014 with Roger Penske.
1999: Target ad: Meet our new driver
1999: Target ad: Teammate Jimmy Vasser gives advice on a new car
1999: Montoya wins his first race at Long Beach
1999: A fantastic pole lap at Detroit, with great sound
1999: Another win at Mid-Ohio
1999: Target ad: Midseason, Montoya well on his way to the title
2000: Indianapolis Motor Speedway video looking at JPM’s rookie win at the 500