Last of three parts looking at the Verizon IndyCar Series season of Juan Pablo Montoya through others' eyes. Today, Connie Montoya.
At home in Miami, Juan Pablo Montoya – Indy car champion, two-time Indianapolis 500 winner and Formula One race winner – is dad.
It’s a title he proudly wears while delivering and retrieving their children – Sebastian, Paulina and Manuela – to and from school, while on casual family outings or narrating an animated bedtime story.
“It’s a good thing. It’s important. At the racetrack, he’s focused. At home, he can relax,” says Connie Freydell Montoya, who met the race car driver in Miami when she requested an autograph. They were married on Oct. 26, 2002, in Cartagena, Colombia.
Click it: Part 1, engineer Brian Campe || Part 2, chief mechanic Vance Welker
Radio-controlled aircraft is a hobby – “he’s like a little kid,” she says – and karting with Sebastian, 10, who recently began racing competitively, brings out “the coach in him.”
“The father figure is there and now they’re like best friends,” she says. “They go everywhere together.”
Also while at home, Connie often joins her husband on trail rides.
“Cycling, he loves it. It’s his way to disconnect from the world,” she says. “It helps him to relax and train at the same time.”
The couple also is heavily involved in management of the Formula Smiles Foundation, which they started in 2003. It focuses on the education through sports for youngsters 6-17 living in vulnerable areas of Colombia as a comprehensive activity to reduce social and gender inequality.
Formula Smiles complements academics with after-school physical education that motivates them to use their free time to practice sports and sportsmanship skills.
“We educate through sport how to be team members, more than focus on themselves,” Juan Pablo says.
An annual motorsports all-star karting race in Colombia is a major fund-raiser for the foundation.
Montoya, 40, who grew up in Bogota, Colombia, equates his outlook on life to his proud heritage. Through Oct. 15, Americans are observing National Hispanic Heritage Month by celebrating the histories, cultures and contributions of residents whose ancestors came from Spain, Mexico, the Caribbean and Central and South America.
“I’m living to make an impact on society,” says Juan Pablo, who in 2013 was honored by the Hispanic Heritage Foundation at a ceremony in Washington, D.C., for his impact on America and the world through sport. “I don’t do it to say I have a foundation. It’s more about the poor population in Colombia is really high and we felt we had to take care of kids who have nothing.
“There are organizations that care about what they eat and where they sleep. But we felt nobody cared about what they did in their free time, and that’s why we created our foundation.”