A common trait of seemingly all motorsport fans is a desire to reminisce. It’s hardly surprising when you consider how richly diverse and intriguing history is in almost all categories.
After all, football has always been about two goals and one ball, but in motorsport, the goalposts have always been moving as technologies have come and gone and driver and team mentalities and priorities have evolved.
For those who love a trip down memory lane, 28th May is going to be a great occasion. Not only will Fernando Alonso become the first active F1 driver to compete in the Indy 500 this century, but he will once again go toe-to-toe with his old adversary Juan-Pablo Montoya.
It’s a battle they both seem to be eagerly anticipating.
Both Alonso and Montoya made their F1 debut’s in 2001, with the Columbian starting his career at Williams on the back of Indy 500 glory and the CART Championship – now known as the IndyCar Series – the year previous. Alonso, meanwhile, had to make an impression driving for F1’s popular minnows Minardi.
Make an impression he most certainly did. While Montoya claimed early race victories and challenged for championship glory in 2003, it was Alonso who claimed the big prize in 2005 and 2006.
Seven wins into his F1 career, Montoya left the sport and headed back to the US, spending several seasons in NASCAR before returning to IndyCar and once again claiming Indy 500 glory in 2015. While an F1 title alluded him, Montoya’s CV is hugely impressive.
While an F1 title alluded him, Montoya’s CV is hugely impressive. It’s important to remember that he is only a Le Mans 24 Hours win away from owning his own Triple Crown and I’d argue that he is still more likely to match Graham Hill’s achievement than Alonso is.
“I take Juan Pablo as one of the best drivers in the world, one of the most talented drivers I ever competed against,” Alonso stated. “So to come here and drive together in the superspeedway will be a massive thing for me.”
Regarding Alonso’s decision to take on this year’s Indy 500, Montoya said; “I think it’s great. I think having Fernando is going to be a really good day for motorsports, not only for IndyCar, but I think the attention overall for seeing Fernando and myself and everybody running Indy is going to be really big.”
Imagine the scene. Heading into the final lap at the Brickyard and it’s Alonso and Montoya vying for Indy 500 glory. Victory lane and a pint of milk in view with an essence of 2005 on the side.
It would, of course, be a fairytale scenario. However, if you had told me that Alonso would miss the Monaco Grand Prix to attend the Indy 500 and face his old adversary Montoya, who is without a full-time IndyCar drive himself this season, I wouldn’t have believed it at the turn of the year.
In motorsport, anything can happen, and if I am to use a Murrayism, “it usually does.”