Palou is proud to become the first Spanish champion of the INDYCAR SERIES
To note: This is the second in a series of stories highlighting the Hispanic and Latino members of the INDYCAR and Indianapolis Motor Speedway community as part of the celebration of National Hispanic Heritage Month, which runs from September 15 to October 15. 15.
When Alex Palou crossed the finish line on Sunday in the Acura Grand Prix at Long Beach, he did more than just become an NTT INDYCAR SERIES champion. He entered an exclusive list of athletes who won the Astor Challenge Cup.
Palou, from Barcelona, ââSpain, became just the sixth Hispanic or Latino driver in INDYCAR SERIES history to win the championship. He is the newest member of a club that includes big names in racing like Emerson Fittipaldi (1989), Juan Pablo Montoya (1999), Gil de Ferran (2000-01), Cristiano da Matta (2002) and Tony Kanaan (2004).
The accomplishment becomes even more exclusive for Palou from there. He is the first INDYCAR SERIES champion from Spain and the first to come from a predominantly Spanish-speaking country since Montoya won the title in 1999. Fittipaldi, de Ferran, da Matta and Kanaan are all from Portuguese-speaking Brazil.
Palou said he was not aware of the accomplishment until just a few weeks ago. From there, the 24-year-old kept the idea of ââbeing Spain’s first champion in mind, knowing it would mean a lot to him, his family and his legacy.
âIt’s amazing and it means a lot, just because being the first isn’t easy,â said Palou. âIt means a lot to be the first Spaniard. It’s super cool, isn’t it, to be the first to do something. But I’m also proud to be one of the championship-winning drivers here in INDYCAR.
Milestone for Palou, who drives the # 10 Honda NTT DATA Chip Ganassi Racing, comes during National Hispanic Heritage Month, which celebrates the stories, cultures and contributions of those from Spain, Mexico, the Caribbean and Central and South America from 15 Sep-Oct. 15.
In this regard, Palou has given the entire motorsport industry a bit of history to celebrate. But deeper than that, Palou hopes he gave the young Hispanic boys and girls something to emulate.
The Astor Challenge Cup’s black granite base still has a Spanish name engraved on it, and he hopes that can influence future generations.
“I think it’s going to be good for some young Spanish riders because they never had a champion before calling,” said Palou. “I hope that in the future they will see more Spanish riders here.”
Palou is banking on the idea that his success will create a constant flow of future Spanish pilots to the NTT INDYCAR SERIES, but he is not ready to consider that he could be that mentor, hero or influence that will help them access the first open from North America. -wheel series.
Why? Well, because Palou is only 24, has only completed his second NTT INDYCAR SERIES season, and is extremely humble. In addition, it will take time for him to adjust to his new role as a role model as he continues to learn from modern legends such as his Chip Ganassi Racing teammate Scott Dixon.
âI watch so many people now,â he said. âI don’t think I’m at the point where people are looking at me. Maybe someday, in about five years (smile).
Yet the history books will always show that Palou was Spain’s first NTT INDYCAR SERIES champion, and if an influx of Spanish riders ever comes into the series, it will be Palou who opens the door.