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Get to Know a Rookie

This year, Nascar was flooded with a wealth of new talent...and Brandon Whitt. Today The Outside Groove starts an occasional series, Get to Know a Rookie, looking at the young drivers who'll be shaping the future of the sport...until they're fired at age 38.

Juan Pablo Montoya

Number: 42--Remember Juan Pablo, no matter what happens, Don't Panic.

Sponsor: Texaco Havoline--That's Texaco HAVOLINE! He's NOT just sponsored by the gasoline company! That's heresy I say...heresy!

Owner: Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates--I always imagine this title referring to the two of them running a roadster in a cross-country race, with Chip as the desperate dad trying to win the race to buy back his family's dream house, while Felix is the lovable sidekick who winds up marrying the lovely Miss Speedley.

Previous Racing Experience: Juan Pablo ran numerous Karting series as a youth, much like Jeff Gordon (while avoiding the goofy mustache). He then moved on to various open-wheel minor leagues, such as Formula Vauxhall, F3000, and CART. After "crossing over" to IRL to win the Indy 500 (wouldn't that make him undefeated?), he moved to F1, running with Williams and, as Larry Mac would say, MAC-laren. Then Ryan Newman plowed him into the wall.

Personal Life: While rather even-keeled off the track, he automatically punches anyone who asks him if he's met Juan Valdez. While a proud Columbian, his celebrity status makes it difficult for him to live there--HE CAN'T WALK DOWN THE STREET IN SOUTH AMERICA!

Fun Fact: Nascar hasn't really promoted this, but apparently Juan Pablo is Hispanic.


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