R/C Racing with Juan Montoya
by Matt Parrish

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Once in a while, Ed and I get lucky enough to race some serious talent at our local stomping grounds in Vancouver, Washington.  Owned by Monty Coleman, A-Main Raceway has a long-reaching reputation for the ultimate racing experience for both year-round off-road racing and seasonal 1/10 scale sedan racing.

While racing legend Juan Montoya was here in Portland, Oregon to compete in the Freightliner/G.I. Joe 200, he took time out after his Friday time trials to come up to the track and fire up his newly built HPI Racer 2 nitro sedan.  I happen to be there, taking advantage of the unusually empty on-road track, opposite the scheduled off-road electric races when he showed up with several close friends and family members.

Juan Montoya & I duke'ing it out at A-Main RacewayAlthough I certainly had no intention of competing that night, it was certainly a once-in-a-lifetime honor to practice with the man, who many, regard as one of the most talented Indy car drivers in the world (not to mention the reigning Indy 500 champion!).  If you aren't familiar with Juan Montoya, you should really turn on ESPN sometime.  He's the crown jewel in the Target/Chip Ganassi racing team and seems to appear in just about every other commercial related to racing or Target.

It wasn't fair for me to assess his r/c driving skills as I was nearly being outdone within a few hours of practice, but let's just say his adaptability to racing at 1/10 the scale of the real thing isn't surprising, considering his reputation.  

The unique perspective we got on a professional race car driver's skills as they relate to r/c racing was truly priceless.  Watch just about any Indy race with Montoya on the track and you have a good example of how he runs on an r/c track.  You quickly see how he adapts his knowledge of full-scale racing to it's scaled down counterpart.

In the course of the evening, the most striking thing about Juan didn't turn out to his driving ability or his celebrity, but about his down-to-earth attitude, despite being a "rock-star" of the racing circuit.  In 1996 at only 21 years old, he made "Rookie of the Year", followed four years later by the title of Indy 500 Champion for the Year 2000.  "This kind of sudden fame can certainly have a negative affect on most people his age, but it doesn't seem to have touched him at all.", says Senior Editor, Ed Knight.  I think that most people that have met him would have to agree... he simply is a really nice guy.  I just hope he doesn't practice before we run together again.  I don't think I can take him again!  :)

Click here for more photos of Juan Montoya in our picture gallery!




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This page last modified: 07/26/11