1. Montoyas live spirit of Hispanic Heritage Month
2. Foyt team expands with Indianapolis-area base
3. Lazier to serve as Iowa homecoming grand marshal
4. Zanardi to compete in Ironman World Championships
1. Montoyas live spirit of Hispanic Heritage Month: Juan Pablo Montoya works without a script, which allows the Verizon IndyCar Series driver spontaneity of thought with youngsters during classroom interaction. There is an underlying message though, no matter the age group.
"Whatever you want to do in life, you've got to work for it," Montoya tells students at Upland (Calif.) Junior High School. "You're going to have obstacles. To overcome them, you've got to work hard for it, believe in yourself and try harder.
"Every time you fall, every time you have a bad day, it doesn't mean you have to give up."
The brief remarks, delivered with sincerity and passion, grab the attention of the students and spawn numerous questions about Indy car racing, technology and his upbringing in Colombia.
"I just speak from the heart," said Montoya, who made a $10,000 donation on behalf of the Verizon Foundation, to the school's Science, Technology, Engineering and Math program.
Montoya's chat also is drawn from experience. Montoya, who returned to Indy car racing in 2014 with Team Penske after a 14-year absence, has been at the pinnacle of the sport by winning the 1999 CART championship followed the next May with an Indianapolis 500 Mile Race victory. He's also faced obstacles and heartache in his motorsports career that includes winning races in Formula 1 and NASCAR.
"I tell them a little bit of history of my life, about the obstacles that everyone will face through life and the opportunities you'll have," he says. "You have to take advantage of those opportunities and show anybody that it doesn't matter where you're from if you're willing to go as far as it takes to get the job done."
Proud of heritage
Montoya, 39, 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.
"Latinos, overall, are people who are willing to go further than anybody and we'll find ways to make things work more than anybody else," says Montoya, who lives in Miami. "We're a very determined people who will find solutions and ways to fix things. I'm a very proud Latino. People have said, 'Oh, because you're Latino you've had opportunities,' but I never felt that. People always have respected me for who I am. It's more of what you can do."
Last year, Montoya was honored by the Hispanic Heritage Foundation at a ceremony in Washington, D.C., for his impact on America and the world through sport. The schoolroom chats this past Verizon IndyCar Series season are an extension of his social consciousness.
"It's cool that Verizon gives me the opportunity to connect with people because in a way it's what our foundation in Colombia does," he says about the Formula Smiles Foundation. "We educate through sport how to be team members, more than focus on themselves."
The Formula Smiles Foundation, started in 2003 by Montoya and his wife, Connie, 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.
According the foundation's mission statement, sports grant children the opportunity to learn and subsequently strengthen core life values such as teamwork, respect, responsibility and self-discipline. Formula Smiles complements academics with after-school physical education that motivates them to use their free time to practice sports and sportsmanship skills.
An annual motorsports all-star karting race in Colombia, organized by the Montoyas, is a major fund-raiser for the foundation.
"I'm living to make an impact on society," Montoya says. "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."
2. Foyt team expands with Indianapolis-area base: Dallara's U.S. headquarters and CFH Racing will have a new neighbor soon on Main Street in Speedway, Ind.
The Speedway Redevelopment Commission and A.J. Foyt Racing signed agreements for the purchase and renovation of a 45,000 square-foot building that will serve as the Verizon IndyCar Series team's northern race car shop. Its longtime headquarters and main race preparation facility will remain in Waller, Texas.
"During the racing season, it makes sense for our team to operate close to the (Indianapolis Motor Speedway), where my name was made," Foyt said. "I remember what Main Street looked like when I first came to Indy and the Commission has managed to modernize it but retain the area's history, too. We're happy to be part of Speedway's redevelopment."
The sound of the twin-turbocharged engines of the Verizon IndyCar Series cars is easily heard while walking on the sidewalks of Main Street, which is near the southwest corner of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway administration building and the oval's Turn 1.
3. Lazier joins Iowa homecoming activities: Buddy Lazier, the 1996 Indianapolis 500 champion and driver of the No. 91 University of Iowa Stephen A. Wynn Institute for Vision Research car in the 98th Indianapolis 500 in May, will be the grand marshal of the University of Iowa homecoming parade Oct. 10.
Jacqueline Lazier, the 12-year-old daughter of Buddy and Kara Lazier, was born with a rare eye disorder called aniridia, which is characterized by a complete or partial absence of the colored part of the eye. Aniridia, combined with glaucoma, has caused Jacqueline to lose vision in her right eye. The Wynn Institute is conducting research on aniridia and glaucoma as well as other inherited eye diseases.
4. Zanardi to compete in Ironman World Championships: Two-time CART champion Alex Zanardi will compete in the Ironman World Championships on Oct. 11 in Hawaii.
A crash in 2001 took Zanardi's legs, but he has not ceased competing. Zanardi, 47, of Italy, mastering prosthetic legs participated in the New York City Marathon in 2007. He then began to excel at hand cycling, eventually winning two gold and one silver medal in the 2012 Paralympic Games in London.
The triathlon consists of a 2.4-mile swim, 112-mile cycle and 26.2-mile run for which he'll use a specially designed chair. Verizon IndyCar Series drivers Tony Kanaan and Vitor Meira competed in the event in 2011. Kanaan is INDYCAR's iron man, starting 233 consecutive races.