Juncos Racing, joined the Star Mazda Championship in 2009 and instantly became one of the powerhouse teams fielding the winningest driver in Star Mazda history, Peter Dempsey, and in their second season they won the championship with Conor Daly. Last season they were 2nd in the team championship for the second year in a row. Not too shabby for a relatively new race team! Now, Juncos Racing is set to expand yet again and go racing in the Firestone Indy Lights series in 2012 fielding two cars for the full-season. The team has absorbed Davey Hamilton Racing and will open up a new race shop in Brownsburg, IN as the new Juncos Racing headquarters for their new Firestone Indy Lights program. The team will still maintain one of their facilities in Miami, FL for their year-around testing programs. The tooling, chassis, and parts from Davey Hamilton Racing will be passed on to Juncos Racing.
“I’m so excited and proud to announce this big news for Juncos Racing. I really believe in the Mazda Road to Indy program as well the people who are running the program and making it all happen. I feel like each team involved in the ladder system is responsible for the success of this program, and the more teams that support it, the more it will continue to grow and be successful for everybody. Being in Indianapolis is a dream come true for me, too. Coming from Argentina, it’s a really big deal for me and the crew members to move to the racing capital of the U.S. The team is going to benefit from this relocation in so many aspects, so I couldn’t be happier.
“Making this move into the Firestone Indy Lights Series is so exciting. After many years of success developing drivers, we can now continue moving through the ladder system within our own teams in the Star Mazda Championship and Firestone Indy Lights Series and in the future, produce new, good drivers for the IZOD IndyCar Series. We will put all of our energy, dedication, hard work and passion into being one of the best teams in the series, just as we have always done.” — Ricardo Juncos, Team Owner, Juncos Racing
The team will be incorporating two highly experienced and talented individuals from Davey Hamilton Racing, Darrell Soppe who will serve as Lead Engineer for Juncos as he had for Davey Hamilton Racing, and Jimmy Pinkley will continue to serve as Chief Mechanic and Crew Chief for the new team. Mr. Soppe and Mr. Pinkley both have a very long and successful track record in American open-wheel racing. Mr. Soppe was part of the Penske racing squad that saw Rick Mears win the 1979 Indianapolis 500 Mile Race and the season title, and then he would see another championship season with another legend of racing as part of Mario Andretti’s 1984 championship year with Newman-Haas Racing. He was also instrumental in the development of the Menard-Buick V8 used in the early days of the Indy Racing League.
While the team has been in talks with several drivers, no announcements have been made just yet, and the team plans on doing further testing and evaluation in the coming weeks. The plan is to field two-cars for the entire season while still maintaining a three-car effort in the Star Mazda Championship. There aren’t any immediate plans for an expansion into the US F2000 National Championship yet as the team is waiting to get their Indy Lights program firmly planted and running smoothly first. I wouldn’t be surprised to see them running an F2000 car in 2013, though.
During a period when the Firestone Indy Lights program is on the ropes, beat up in recent years by minuscule car counts, mistrust, and lack of transparency, it’s good to see a new team moving into the series. Its especially nice to see another team from other parts of the Mazda Road to Indy program expand into other rungs of the development ladder. In many ways, this is a real make-or-break year for the final step in the Mazda Road to Indy program and seeing new teams come to the series with a multi-car effort gives me hope that we’ll see fortunes turn around for Firestone Indy Lights.