MONTOYA TO BE INDUCTED INTO MIAMI SPORTS HALL OF CHAMPIONS

NASCAR Sprint Cup Series driver and South Florida resident joins Shula, Marino, Ali, DiMaggio

MIAMI-In honor of “lifetime contributions to sports,” South Florida resident and NASCAR Sprint Cup Series star Juan Pablo Montoya has been selected for induction into the Miami Sports Hall of Champions. Montoya will be inducted Wednesday, Oct. 19, during ceremonies at the 20th Annual Sports Hall of Champions Awards at American Airlines Arena in Miami. The Hall of Champions, in conjunction with the Greater Miami Chamber of Commerce, honors individuals who have brought “significant recognition to Greater Miami through achievements in, and contributions to, sports and the competitive spirit of the local community.”

“Juan Pablo is an important member of the South Florida racing family,” said Homestead-Miami Speedway President Matthew Becherer. “His success in various racing disciplines and his signature no-holds-barred style of racing makes him one of racing’s greatest drivers. He is an international motorsports superstar who makes his home in South Florida-perfect ‘home track’ matches for Homestead-Miami Speedway and the Miami Sports Hall of Champions.”

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Past inductees of the Sports Hall of Champions include: Dan Marino, Joe DiMaggio, Muhammad Ali, Don Shula, Alonzo Mourning and Greg Louganis. Along with Montoya, the 2011 induction class includes: pro football Hall of Famer Michael Irvin, former Florida Marlins manager Jack McKeon, Olympic speed skater Jennifer Rodriguez, and Miami Heat analysts Tony “The Coach” Fiorentino and Eric Reid.

To be eligible for consideration for the Sports Hall of Champions induction, an individual must have: a) gained/maintained fame in sports as a player, coach or executive; b) made significant contributions to the betterment of sports in the South Florida community; and c) either be a native South Floridian, or have achieved recognition in local sports and in the community.

Montoya is in just his fifth full-time year in NASCAR after dominating the open-wheel racing circuit, where he won a CART Championship, the Indianapolis 500 and seven Formula 1 races, (including the famed Monaco Grand Prix). A Miami resident since 2006, the Colombian native made motorsports history in 2009 as the first foreign-born driver ever to qualify for NASCAR’s Chase For The Sprint Cup.

Homestead-Miami Speedway, for the third consecutive year, is partnering with Montoya to create “Race Day with Juan Pablo Montoya”-an exclusive meet-and-greet opportunity prior to the Nov. 20 Sprint Cup Championship at Homestead-Miami Speedway. This exclusive package benefits the Formula Smiles Foundation.

Juan Pablo and Connie Montoya are committed to fighting Colombia’s indigence through sports and education. The Formula Smiles Foundation aims to improve the quality of life for Colombian children in vulnerable situations by way of complementing a child’s education with participation in sports to reinforce classroom lessons; raising motivation to continue in school; gaining appreciation for the valuable use of free time; learning essential values that improve self esteem; and incentivizing kids to stay off the streets, and away from drugs and violence.

Among Formula Smiles’ fundraising efforts is the Nov. 17 “BeLive” benefit at the Ritz-Carlton Miami Beach on the eve of NASCAR’s Ford Championship Weekend at Montoya’s “home track” of Homestead-Miami Speedway. “BeLive” is attended each year by more than 500 international guests; including NASCAR celebrities, and luminaries in the world of music and fashion. Activities for the gala include dinner, a silent auction, and a fashion show.

To purchase “Race Day with Juan Pablo Montoya” ($142)-or to upgrade to this package if tickets already have been purchased-please visit HomesteadMiamiSpeedway.com/Montoya http://www.homesteadmiamispeedway.com/Vanity-Pages/2010/Montoya.aspx or call (866) 409-RACE.

The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of SpeedwayMedia.com.

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