It’s a bold statement, we know. But we feel confident in making it all the same: Juan Pablo Montoya is the greatest racing driver in the world. That much was just confirmed this weekend at the 2017 Race of Champions in Miami.
Participating in the off-season demonstration event for the first time in his career, Montoya defeated stiff competition from very serious racing drivers – many of them world champions themselves several times over. Chief among them was nine-time Le Mans winner Tom Kristensen, who competed in the event for the record-matching fifteenth time, and made it to the Grand Final round for the fifth time, but has still yet to win the top prize.
Montoya also defeated Felipe Massa and Travis Pastrana on his way up through the heats. Also dispatched along the way were big names like F1 veterans Sebastian Vettel, Jenson Button, and David Coulthard; Indy 500 winners Tony Kanaan, Helio Castroneves, Ryan Hunter-Reay, and Alexander Rossi; and NASCAR brothers Kurt and Kyle Busch.
They competed on a variety of machinery from road cars like the Mercedes-AMG GT S and Toyota 86 and tin-top racers like the Porsche 911 GT3 Cup and rallycross-spec Ford Fiesta ST to track machines like the Vuhl 05, KTM X-Bow, and Ariel Atom – even Whelen-series stock cars, Stadium Super Trucks, off-road buggies, and the Polaris Slingshot trike.
It was an impressive feat on Montoya’s part, but that’s just the icing on the proverbial cake of his achievements. The multi-talented Colombian has won the Monaco Grand Prix (along with six other F1 races), the Indianapolis 500 (twice), the CART championship, the 24 Hours of Daytona (three times), and NASCAR races in both the Sprint Cup and Nationwide Series.
He’s been named Rookie of the Year in three separate series, and if he were ever given a good chance, he might win the 24 Hours of Le Mans as well. But for now he’ll just have to content himself with being crowned the Champion of Champions.
This was the first time that the event was held in the United States, taking place over the weekend at Marlins Park where Florida’s Major League Baseball team plays. More action unfolds later on Sunday for the Nations Cup, in which JP teams up with up-and-coming fellow Colombian driver Gabby Chaves. Unfortunately Sauber’s new F1 driver Pascal Wehrlein will have to sit out Sunday’s rounds after crashing during Saturday’s competition.