MAKING IT LOOK TOO EASY
The 2000 Indianapolis 500 was perceived,
at least in Gasoline Alley and by the Indy
Racing League faithful, as a battle of good
vs. evil. The rank and file of Tony George’s
little guys against the big, bad CART
champions of Target Chip Ganassi Racing.
Since “The Split” in 1996, there really
hadn’t been any polarizing force in the
Indianapolis 500, because Team Penske
wasn’t around and half the IRL field looked
like Goodwill should be their sponsor.
For better or worse – and that was an easy
call judging by the loss of ratings, crowds,
sponsors and prestige – the Indy 500 had
become more of a club race than “The
Greatest Spectacle in Racing.” Sure, it
featured talent like Tony Stewart, Arie
Luyendyk and Kenny Brack, and deserving
starters like Steve Kinser, Mark Dismore,
Billy Boat, Donnie Beechler and Jack Hewitt.
But it lacked a plot, if not a reason to care,
and it was badly missing someone who race
fans could either pull for or root against.
Enter Juan Pablo Montoya...
The 24-year-old Colombian was the
antithesis of what had transpired at
When Juan Pablo Montoya first
won Indy, he was as welcome
as a fox in a chicken coop.
WORDS Robin Miller
MAIN IMAGE Phil Abbott/LAT