The Tale of Hill and Montoya at Monaco & Indianapolis


This Sunday will see two of the most prestigious races into motorsport take place; the Monaco Grand Prix and the Indianapolis 500.

Having been held on the same weekend since 1987, it easily makes it one of the most anticipated on the motorsport calendar.

These races make up two thirds of the Triple Crown of Motorsport, alongside the 24 Hours of Le Mans.

To win one of these races is an absolute privilege, yet only one driver has managed to win all three – Graham Hill.

Often referred to as ‘Mr. Monaco’, Hill managed to record five wins around the principality, the first of which were a hat trick of victories between 1963 and 1965 following his 1962 Formula 1 Drivers’ title for BRM.

Following this, he fancied a crack at success Stateside and in 1966 headed for the Indianapolis 500.

Starting on the outside of the fifth row, the British driver was lucky to survive a first lap incident which saw 11 of the 33 entrants crash.

The race turned out to be one of attrition, with only seven drivers finishing the race.

In fact, Hill only led the final ten laps after race leader and fellow rookie Jackie Stewart experienced an oil pressure issue.

This allowed Hill to claim victory at the Brickyard, making him the first rookie to do so since Frank Lockhart’s win in 1927 and earned a cool $152,000 in prize money.

In 1967, Graham returned to Team Lotus to join forces with fellow World Champion and Indy 500 winner Jim Clark in what was a dream partnership.

Hill would go on to win the 1968 Formula One Championship, albeit in difficult circumstances after the deaths of team-mates Clark and Mike Spence.

During this period, Graham claimed two more wins at Monaco in 1968 and ’69, with the latter being his final Grand Prix victory.

Recalling her personal memories for the BBC Four Documentary Graham Hill: Driven, his wife Bette recalled how he was welcomed by the adoring locals and racing fans:

“Going to Monte Carlo was like going home, it really was. Coming out the Hôtel de Paris and going down to the pits, people were throwing roses at Graham.”

“I was quite emotional about how much they loved Graham, and they did.”

Since Graham Hill, only one driver has managed to win both the Monaco Grand Prix and the Indianapolis 500; Juan Pablo Montoya.

Montoya first caught the attention of the motorsport world when he finished second in his debut F3000 season behind Ricardo Zonta in 1997.

Williams duly signed him up as one of their test drivers and subsequently won the 1998 F3000 championship, including an impressive victory at the Pau Grand Prix which saw him lap the entire field.

Because of his impressive performances, 1999 saw the Colombian swap places with Alessandro Zanardi, who would race for Williams in Formula 1, and join the Ganassi team in CART.

In a season overshadowed by the deaths of Gonzalo Rodríguez and Greg Moore, Montoya’s seven wins were enough to secure the title.

At the turn of the new millennium, the Chip Ganassi team entered the 2000 Indianapolis 500; something Montoya didn’t want at the time.

“It was pretty cool. It was funny because I didn’t wanna do it. At that time, the series was split; Champ Car and IndyCar or IRL. And because they were split, we were running [in] the Champ Cap Championship that year with Toyota and we were having a lot of problems (Montoya finished 9th in the 2000 CART Championship), so I really wanted to focus on that. I didn’t want to take the attention off that and do the Indy 500.

“So, when I was told ‘we’re doing it’, we’re doing it I guess, and I don’t regret it today but it was really good. You just have to be smart about how you approach it.”

The win saw Montoya dominate the event, becoming the first rookie to win since the aforementioned Graham Hill in 1966, having led 167 laps.

Montoya would then spend six seasons in Formula 1, earning seven Grand Prix wins for Williams and McLaren.

His triumph at Monaco in 2003 is arguably his most impressive.

After his Williams team-mate Ralf Schumacher made his first pit stop, Montoya inherited the lead and began to push to create a gap to the German.

In doing so, Montoya set a lap time of a 1:15.166; faster than that of Schumacher’s pole position time of a 1:15.259.

Subsequently, he went on to reclaim first place later, absorbing pressure from McLaren’s Kimi Rӓikkӧnen late on to secure victory.

After leaving F1, Montoya joined NASCAR before returning to IndyCar in 2014 with Team Penske.

A second Indy 500 victory for Montoya was achieved in 2015.

This one was much tougher than his first as he had to fend off Penske team-mate Will Power in the closing stages, and thus added his name onto an illustrious list of multiple Indy 500 winners.

Although Montoya won’t be competing for a hat-trick at the Brickyard this weekend, he will be contesting at Le Mans next month in the LMP2 class for United Autosports.

It is worth noting that Montoya is currently the only active driver who is capable of emulating Graham Hill and completing the Triple Crown of Motorsport.

So, once this weekend’s racing spectacular reaches its conclusion, that will be something to look forward to.