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.
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
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
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!