Road to Indy
Ricardo Juncos Enjoying MRTI Success
With a pair of Pro Mazda Championships to his credit and an Indy Lights title last year, it’s no secret Ricardo Juncos knows how to put together a race-winning organization.
Juncos feels he has found a home in the Mazda Road to Indy ladder series, enjoying the aspect of developing drivers and how everything depends on setup due to being a spec series.
“I like working on the psychological aspect,” he said. “We combine the development program together with the service we do for the customer. For example, Kyle Kaiser has been with us for three years, through Pro Mazda and into Indy Lights. He really has stepped up as a driver. He has learned all the technical aspects of racing and is able to really help us give him what he needs. He is an example that the program we have is working.”
The journey, though, began in Argentina as a love of racing led him to go to school for mechanical engineering.
“I know how to complete a racing engine from scratch,” he said. “I worked for the Peugeot team in Argentina when I was 20, but then I found enough sponsors to finally start racing myself. My brother Alex worked with me, and I drove. I owe him everything because he was always there to support me.
“We had a shop to work on street cars – engines, body shop, everything. We started small, but we grew quickly. I can see the engineer’s point of view, and the driver’s.”
Juncos didn’t have plans of bringing his racing plans to America. He was forced to the U.S. in late 2001 when Argentina’s economy collapsed. Looking to get himself back on his feet, he moved to Miami to live with a friend while doing millwork. He didn’t stay out of the racing ranks long, though, beginning to work for Christian Fittipaldi’s karting team as a mechanic.
“After a few months, I became the team manager,” he said. “We won a championship in 2003, and it was a great experience for me, to learn how to do business in the U.S., how to work with the employees and how to work in the karting world. “
It was the experience, along with some convincing from a friend, which got Juncos to start up Juncos Racing.
“We rented a warehouse in Miami that was next to a karting track,” Juncos said. “The first day we were there we had two drivers come to us wanting to race with us, including Sebastian Ordonez, who had done some Skip Barber. Spencer Pigot was our third customer, so he and Sebastian led the team. I remember meeting Spencer when he was eight years old, and his dad Barry was running the team out of a U-Haul trailer. I could see that he was a good driver even at that age.”
After winning a lot of championship from 2003 to 2008 and running 47 different drivers, opportunities to expand continued to flourish. One of the karter’s dad asked about getting someone who knew about open-wheel, though Juncos said he took charge as he knew more about cars than karts.
“We rented a karting track once or twice a week for the better part of 2008, to teach young karting drivers in an F1600 car, both on the driving side and the technical side,” Juncos said. “In 2009 one of the customers bought a Star Mazda car, so we entered that series. We won the championship in 2010 with Conor Daly and every year since then we’ve won races and a few championships.”
With the current success of Juncos Racing, the next logical step would be to form a Verizon IndyCar Series team. However, Junco isn’t sure whether it is in their future.
“I can’t do it by myself, it’s much more expensive,” he said. “It has us thinking on another level, about investors and sponsors, but I won’t do it unless I feel it is right. We had the opportunity to do the Indy 500 this year, but we said no. If we move up, I have to make sure it’s something long-term. I also have to make sure the other series are still healthy. Pro Mazda and Indy Lights are plenty for the new shop, but we’ll be ready if everything aligns properly.”
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