It wasn’t too long ago that Colombian race car driver Carlos Muñoz was on the verge of winning the biggest race of his career. But during his IndyCar debut, he finished second at the 2013 Indianapolis 500 behind the legendary driver, Tony Kanaan.
It was after that heartbreaking moment that he made a promise to himself that he would win that race one day.
Despite the loss, Muñoz won the 2013 Indianapolis 500 Rookie of the Year award. Since then, the 25-year-old race car driver has also won the 2014 Verizon IndyCar Series Sunoco Rookie of the Year award, his first IndyCar race at Belle Isle in 2015, and placed second—again—at the 2016 Indianapolis 500.
“What launched my career was 2013,” said Muñoz, who is thankful for the Indianapolis 500 race, one of the most prestigious in the sport. “Thank God I did well in that race and I came in second place as I fought for the win.”
Muñoz’s passion for racing began in his native Bogotá, when a friend of his father’s brought a go-kart as a form of payment from a prior debt. Muñoz and his sister were immediately thrilled with the kart, but realized it was far too big for them to drive it.
With a desire to pursue racing, his family signed him up in a few courses at La Escuela Colombiana de Karts. Since then, the IndyCar driver’s career has taken off.
So far, Muñoz has had the opportunity to share the tracks with all-time greats that he’s admired since childhood, such as fellow Colombian driver Juan Pablo Montoya.
“In my case, my compatriot, Juan Pablo Montoya has always been a great example for me,” said Muñoz. “For me he has always been a great example since I was a little boy as I saw him race at Formula One and IndyCar. He’s always been a great example and there are others like Helio Castroneves at IndyCar who’s also an example. These two are two drivers with history like Michael Schumacher as well.”
Like any other sport, the Colombian race car driver says that preparing for races is challenging and requires certain dedication.
“I think, like any other sport, the preparation comes in way before, like a game,” said Muñoz. “Just like soccer, baseball, basketball or any other sport. The preparation for a driver is mentally and physically because the races are very long [up to 500 miles] and mentally you also have to be fresh and well overall and your team also has to do a great job with the engineers, mechanics and all of that is what makes you good. A good pilot with a bad car won’t do anything or vice versa a bad pilot can do well with a good car.”
Today, Muñoz drives with A.J. Foyt Enterprises, and currently ranks 16th in the 2017 IndyCar Standings. He’s scheduled to race this Sunday at 3:30 p.m. at the GoPro Grand Prix of Sonoma (85 laps).
“I invite you all to come over on Sunday, Sept. 17,” said Muñoz. “It’s the last race of the year. You’re going to have a great time. Aside from racing, there are other activities, so come and support the Latinos that are representing you.”
Story by: Alejandro Galicia Diaz