Juan Pablo Montoya’s resume needs no defense. Being a two-time CART champion (when that still meant something), Indy 500 champion (in dominant fashion), Grand Prix of Monaco (among others) winner and NASCAR race winner insulates from most criticism. In short, his career is almost unique in modern international racing.
All of that pales in comparison, however, to his seminal title: Racing’s Greatest Troll. In 2006, he famously left F1 to reunite with Chip Ganassi… in NASCAR. Going from the “elite” world of F1 to the not-so-elite world of NASCAR was the greatest troll ever executed in international racing. It left everyone incredulous and speechless.
Last week, Montoya once again trolled us by teaming up with Ganassi’s rival Roger Penske… in IndyCar. Not only did Montoya decide to return to a discipline (if not the specific series) that he dominated over a decade ago, he actually decided against a mid-level, though competitive Furniture Row Racing ride in NASCAR. In so doing, he now gets to help Ganassi’s chief rival torment him in a very public way.
Given some of the recent news coming out IndyCar, the timing of the announcement is highly favorable to all involved. Penske puts Chip on notice, Montoya gets revenge on Ganassi (who basically fired JPM) and the series gets a much-need PR boost (and distraction).
Still, Montoya is no longer the young gun who could (and did!) take on the racing world’s best. Yes, a good bit of his talent surely remains, but will the motivation be there? Will 14 years away from IndyCar be too much to overcome?
That all remains to be seen, but one thing is undeniable: Juan Pablo Montoya is the greatest troll in racing history.