Photo: Andersen Promotions

Banner weekend for Juncos Racing as new shop opens; Kaiser re-signs

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Ricardo Juncos’ story of coming from Argentina to the U.S. and building a team from scratch, from karting initially through the Mazda Road to Indy presented by Cooper Tires, is one of the best in North America. It’s been a 20-year-odd process.

This weekend, Juncos Racing moved from its old shop in Brownsburg to a new one in Speedway, Ind., with the grand opening held Friday night. This took three years of planning and 10 months of construction to move into the brand-new, 40,000 square foot facility at 4401 Gilman St.

The team first announced their plans to relocate and build this new facility in May of 2015 in conjunction with the Speedway Redevelopment Commission. The extensive project broke ground in January of 2016 on the corner of Gilman Street and Allison Way and finished on time in early November.

“This is a dream come true for us at Juncos Racing,” said Juncos. “This facility shows where we came from, where we are, and where we hope to go in the future. I left Argentina in 2002 due to the huge financial crisis the country was in and came to the United States. I had $400 in my pocket and no clear direction of where my career in racing would go.  To think that we would one day be moving into our own first class facility was not even a vision.

“However, two years ago the idea of this building became a reality and now here we are. We’re very excited to welcome everyone to our open house this Friday to showcase the future of Juncos Racing. I would like to thank the Town of Speedway, Speedway Redevelopment Commission, Tim McGovern (McGovern Construction), Scott Perkins (Blackline Studios), Dale Kruse (Kruse Consulting), Don Spencer (Spencer Engineering), the team and drivers, and my family for their incredible support this past year in making this opportunity possible.”

The 40,000 square foot building hosts multiple office spaces, eight car bays, a paint booth, simulator room, and machine shop along with parking for multiple transporters.

Additionally, this wasn’t the only bit of Juncos news confirmed over the weekend. Kyle Kaiser will be back with the team for a third season in Indy Lights Presented by Cooper Tires. He’s the team’s second confirmed driver along with rookie Nico Dapero, and should be a championship contender.

“Ricardo (Juncos) is an extremely passionate and dedicated team owner, and it has been a privilege to drive for him the past three years,” Kaiser said. “The work ethic from everyone in the team has made Juncos competitive every race weekend, and I’m thrilled to be returning for another year. It’s great to be working with a group of guys that I know so well and can trust to do everything it takes to win a championship.”

Photos and videos from the shop grand opening as posted on social media are below:

Street race in Vietnam could lead Formula One’s Asia expansion

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TOKYO (AP) — Formula One is expected to add more races in Asia, including a street circuit in the capital of Vietnam, a country with little auto racing history that is on the verge of getting a marquee event.

“We think Hanoi could come on in the next couple of years, and we’re working with the Hanoi government to that end,” Sean Bratches, Formula One’s managing director of commercial operations, told the Associated Press.

There is even speculation it could be on the schedule next season, which Bratches rebuffed.

Vietnam would join countries like Azerbaijan, Russia and Bahrain, which have Grand Prix races, little history in the sport, and authoritarian governments with deep pockets that serve F1 as it tries to expand into new markets.

“This (Hanoi) is a street race where we can go downtown, where we can activate a large fan base,” Bratches said. “And you have extraordinary iconography from a television standpoint.”

A second race in China is also likely and would join Shanghai on the F1 calendar. Bratches said deciding where to stage the GP will “be left to local Chinese partners” – Beijing is a strong candidate.

Bratches runs the commercial side of Formula One, which was acquired last year by U.S.-based Liberty Media from long-time operator Bernie Ecclestone.

Formula One’s long-term goal is to have 24-25 races – up from the present 21 – and arrange them in three geographical segments: Asia, Europe and the Americas. Bratches said the Europe-based races would stay in middle of the calendar, with Asia or the Americas opening or ending the season.

He said their positioning had not been decided, and getting this done will be slowed by current contracts that mandate specific places on the calendar for several races. This means eventually that all the races in Asia would be run together, as would races in Europe and the Americas.

The F1 schedule is now an inefficient jumble, allowing Bratches to take a good-natured poke at how the sport was run under Ecclestone.

“We’ve acquired an undermanaged asset that’s 67-years-old, but effectively a start-up,” Bratches said.

Early-season races in Australia and China this year were conducted either side of a trip to Bahrain in the Middle East. Late in the season Formula One returns to Asia with races in Japan and Singapore.

The Canadian GP this season is run in the middle of the European swing, separated by four months from the other races in the Americas – the United States, Mexico and Brazil. These three are followed by the season-ending race in Abu Dhabi, which means another trip across the globe.

“With the right economics, with the right structure and cadence of events across territories, 24 or 25 is probably where we’d like to be from a longer-term standpoint,” Bratches said.

Big changes are not likely to happen until the 2020 season ends. This is when many current rules and contracts expire as F1’s new owners try to redistribute some income to allow smaller teams to compete.

“There’s more interest than we have capacity in the schedule,” Bratches said, firing off Berlin, Paris or London as potentially attractive venues. “We want to be very selective.”

“Those cites from an economic impact standpoint would find us value, as do others around the world,” Bratches added. “It’s very important for us as we move forward to go to locations that are a credit to the Formula One brand.”

An expanded schedule would have to be approved by the teams, which will be stretched by the travel and the wear-and-tear on their crews. The burden will fall on the smaller teams, which have significantly smaller revenue compared with Ferrari, Mercedes or Red Bull.

Bratches also envisions another race in the U.S., joining the United States Grand Prix held annually in Austin, Texas. A street race in Miami is a strong candidate, as are possible venues like Las Vegas or New York.

“We see the United States and China as countries that could support two races,” he said.

Liberty Media has reported Formula One’s total annual revenue at $1.8 billion, generated by fees paid by promoters, broadcast rights, advertising and sponsorship. Race promotion fees also tend to be higher in Asia, which makes the area attractive – along with a largely untapped fan base.

In a four-year cycle, F1 generates more revenue than FIFA or the International Olympic Committee, which rely almost entirely on one-time showcase events.

Reports suggest Vietnamese promoters may pay between $50-60 million annually as a race fee, with those fees paid by the government. Bratches said 19 of 21 Formula One races are supported by government payments.

“The race promotion fee being derived from the government … is a model that has worked historically,” Bratches said.