The juxtaposition and irony are as rich as the black soil upon which he stands. Here we find Juan Pablo Montoya, winner of millions in Formula One prize money, five months removed from the streets of Monte Carlo, standing in what once was a cornfield in Iowa, signing autographs on a windy, 50-degree day. And, perhaps even more rich, he's thoroughly enjoying himself.
That's not where the story of Montoya's transformation begins, just where it stands presently. For those living in a cave, Montoya is in the process of a professional U-turn, taking his credentials from racing's global pinnacle to its more regional cousin, NASCAR.
He might not be the first or the only open-wheel driver to attempt the seemingly backward move to stock cars - Sam Hornish Jr. is in the on-deck circle, Jacques Villeneuve reportedly is considering it, Paul Tracy has flirted with it, A.J. Allmendinger is going to do it, and Tony Stewart and Robby Gordon are already there - but Montoya, widely regarded as one of the world's best racing talents, is the highest-profile driver of the current era to try.