Colombian driver Juan Pablo Montoya has raced the Indianapolis 500 a total of five times, and of those he’s won it twice. Perhaps even more impressive, his first win was as a 24-year-old rookie in 2000, and then he came back after a stint in Formula One, then NASCAR, and won the whole shooting match again 15 years later. Now, he’s plotting a return to the Speedway with the Arrow McLaren SP team after a stint in sports cars winning an IMSA championship with Acura.
Wow, re-reading that paragraph I’m realizing JPM might be the most versatile racer in the sport. Not many racers can claim to have scored wins in Formula One, NASCAR, CART, IndyCar, and IMSA, let alone championships in two of those. He’s raced everywhere from Le Mans to Monaco to Indy to Daytona.
Taking up the seat that Fernando Alonso drove in 2020, Montoya will join the Arrow McLaren SP team as its third driver, working with series full-timers Patricio O’Ward and Felix Rosenqvist to bring McLaren’s papaya orange back to victory lane. The trio will again field Chevrolet-powered machines. Collectively, the three drivers will have eight starts in the 500. Montoya is 16 years older than Rosenqvist and a full 24 years older than youngster O’Ward.
“I’m very excited to be joining Arrow McLaren SP for the Indianapolis 500,” said Montoya. “I have some great history with McLaren from my F1 days and I’m looking forward to making some more at next year’s Indianapolis 500.”
In addition to this one-off effort at Indianapolis next year, Montoya will split his time as a full-season driver aboard the Dragonspeed team’s LMP2 prototype in FIA WEC competition, as well as a continued role in IMSA as an Acura ARX-05 endurance driver for the Meyer Shank Racing team. That’s a pretty busy season, but if anyone can pull it off, it’s JPM.
Montoya last raced under the McLaren banner in Formula One during the 2005 and 2006 seasons. He left the team mid-way through the 2006 season in order to pursue a career in NASCAR. Will this relationship bear more fruit than that effort? Time will tell.