There are some athletes who hold a special place in people’s hearts. Sometimes, athletes such as these can inspire an entire nation; they can even be larger figures than presidents and prime ministers. Enter racecar driver Juan Pablo Montoya. One of Colombia’s most beloved sons, Montoya has built a reputation as a leader in both the community and the racing world.
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Born and raised in Bogotá, Colombia, Montoya has seen firsthand the prevalence of poverty in his hometown. The violent and unstable living conditions for local youth makes one naturally wonder how they can overcome it. These issues have plagued Bogotá for years and Montoya has put his foot forward to help. His nurturing Character has translated to his organization, Fundación Fórmula Sonrisas (Formula Smiles Foundation). It is a non-profit organization he and his wife founded in 2003, set up with the goal of helping poverty-stricken youth, in the worst parts of Colombia, learn how they can grow to better themselves.
Formula Smiles Foundation offers children “an integral education, a healthier lifestyle and socially sustainable development” through a variety of sports. The charitable work by Montoya has changed the lives of numerous children. Testimonials from those he has helped provide insight into his work and how much it means to the region.
Montoya has had an illustrious racing career that has seen him win many trophies in several different types of races. Indy Car, Grand-Am, IRL, CART, Formula One, and NASCAR have all been conquered by Montoya, as his trophy case includes victories in the Indianapolis 500 (2000 & 2015), the Grand Prix of Monaco (2003), the International F3000 Championship (1998), and the CART FedEx Championship Series (1999). His success, longevity, and adaptability truly show his Skill.
(For more on skillful racers, click the link to read about Fernando Alonso: http://www.athletecrush.com/racing/athlete-crush-fernando-alonso-formula-one/)
Transitioning from Formula One to NASCAR is by no means a stroll in the park – Montoya just made it seem that way. To put into perspective, NASCAR is like a marathon while Formula One is like a sprint. Despite a huge difference in length, strategy, and how the car is driven, Montoya’s shift to NASCAR was seamless. People in Colombia love him because, through his ambitious exploits, he was able to put them on the sports map. Many see Colombia as a dangerous, drug ruled country, but the success of Montoya abated those stereotypes and showed that Colombia is much more than that; it is a beautiful country that creates hard workers and great winners.
Montoya’s Skill and Character make him my ultimate Athlete CRUSH. His natural ability behind the wheel not only made him one of the best drivers in the world, but also a beloved athlete in the Colombian community. Everyone likes to see their countrymen do well and I personally love seeing him dominate in any kind of race.
Written by Athlete CRUSH Staff
Posted 17 July 2016