Ricardo Juncos partners with Brad Hollinger to form Juncos Hollinger Racing in IndyCar

Juncos Hollinger Racing IndyCar
Juncos Racing
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Ricardo Juncos and Brad Hollinger will partner to form Juncos Hollinger Racing and field an entry for the final three races of the 2021 NTT IndyCar season. The team also announced they will compete in the entire 2022 IndyCar season and field multiple cars in the Road To Indy ladder program.

“The opportunity to partner with someone who shares many of the same values, passion, determination, and is forward-thinking like Brad Hollinger makes this an incredible moment in our team’s history,” said Juncos in a release. “Brad has a lot of experience at one of the highest levels in racing and brings resources that will create more opportunities and growth for all of our programs.”

The first race for the team is scheduled to be the Grand Prix of Portland on September 12. The driver for that race, as well as the Grand Prix of Monterey and Grand Prix of Long Beach, will be announced at a later date.

But Juncos has already made a splash in the IndyCar Series. They began competing at the top level in 2017 after running successful campaigns in  multiple Road to Indy divisions. In 2017, Juncos placed two cars in the Indy 500 with Sebastian Saavedra finishing 15th on the lead lap. Spencer Pigot was running four laps off the pace in 18th after improving from 29th on the grid.

In the next two Indy 500s, Kyle Kaiser qualified for both events – finishing 29th with mechanical issues in 2018 and 31st with crash damage in 2019.

Juncos Hollinger Racing IndyCar
.@juncosracing

The 2019 effort was notable in that to simply make the show, Kaiser bumped Fernando Alonso out of the field in a backup car — a major upset in the 103rd Indy 500.

Kaiser and Pigot both graduated to the NTT IndyCar Series after winning championships in Indy Lights with Juncos. Kaiser won the championship in 2017. Pigot was the 2015 champ.

Other notable drivers who climbed their way up the Road to Indy ladder with Juncos include Rinus Veekay, Conor Daly, and Dalton Kellett.

“Since the Indianapolis 500 in 2019, we have been looking for the right opportunity to get back on track in the IndyCar Series,” said Juncos. “After a difficult 2019 year and then with us all facing the terrible and unfortunate times during COVID-19 in 2020, our efforts were derailed until this year. Once we committed to a full 2022 NTT IndyCar Series season, we made the plan to get on track this year for the final three races this season to begin our preparation for next year.”

The conversation between Juncos and Hollinger began during the 2017 Indy 500 weekend. Looking for a new opportunity after spending the majority of his career in Formula 1, Hollinger was looking for an opportunity that combined competition with the robust fan engagement American motorsports has to offer.

Hollinger was the second-largest shareholder and a board member in the Williams Grand Prix Holdings Formula 1 team and brings his own wealth of experience to the partnership.

“I recently transitioned from the Formula 1 world, where the sport entertained an international audience, yet had limited fan participation in the United States,” Hollinger said. “My view of IndyCar Series racing, in light of Formula 1’s limited exposure, is that significant growth opportunities exist. This premise prompted me to seek an IndyCar Series team with a combination of engineering acumen, a culture of excellence, and a track record of success.

“Ricardo and Juncos’ winning history in open-wheel racing and their state-of-the-art engineering platform not only position us for future success but also advances Juncos’ Road to Indy driver development program. The combination of Ricardo’s racing expertise and Hollinger resources positions Juncos for success on multiple levels of open-wheel racing.”

In addition to the Indy Lights championships for Kaiser and Pigot, Juncos has earned five Indy Pro 2000 driver championships over the course of 10 years of competition.

Heather Lyne, Dennis Erb Jr. make history in the World of Outlaws Late Model Series

Lyne Erb Outlaws Late
Jacy Norgaard / World of Outlaws
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More than two decades in the making, the pairing of Heather Lyne and Dennis Erb Jr. produced a historical milestone in Dirt Late Model.

Last month, Erb and his long-time crew chief Lyne won their first World of Outlaws Late Model Championship and with this achievement, Lyne became the first female crew chief to win in a national late model series. Their journey together goes back 21 years and tells the story of hard work, persistence and belief in oneself.

After a career-best season with the World of Outlaws, Erb and Lyne secured the points championship at US 36 Raceway in Osborn, Mo. with three races remaining in the season. The consistency and success of their season came down to pinpoint focus. Lyne and Erb are a team of two living out a David vs. Goliath tale. In order to be as successful as possible this year the duo knew they had to do as much as possible with the resources they had.

“It’s always a challenge when you only have two people, both at the racetrack and at the shop,” Lyne told NBC Sports. “I also work full time, so during the day, Dennis has to do a significant amount of work so that when I get down there I can start working and maintaining. It’s planning ahead. It’s having that system in place and making sure that you’re prepared ahead of time.

“When you have a problem at the track, making sure you have all that stuff ready so it’s a quick change and not a lengthy process to make a repair. We had zero DNFs in the World of Outlaws, we had only one DNF out of 96 races [combined among all series].”

Dennis Erb clinched his 2022 championship before the World of Outlaws World Finals. Jacy Norgaard – World of Outlaws Late Model Series.

Taming Time

This was not an easy feat. Between a full travel schedule and Lyne’s full-time job as an engineer, time comes at a premium. What they lack in time and resources they made up for in patience and planning.

“We buckled down, and we got all the equipment that we needed back, motors freshened, and things of that nature,” Lyne said about the mid-point of last season. “We were able to keep up with that. We just had a higher focus. I tried to reduce my hours at my day job as much as I possibly could while still maintaining what I need to get done at work. I got rid of a lot of the other distractions and got a more refined system in place at the shop.

“We did certain tasks on certain days so we had time to recover. We were on the road a little bit more, as opposed to coming home to the shop. So we had to be more prepared to stay out on those longer runs. It was just really staying on top of things a little more. It was a heightened sense.”

This was Lyne and Erb’s fourth full season with the Outlaws, but they’ve been on the road together for the last 21 seasons starting in 2001. Their partnership began with Lyne’s bravery. When one door closed, she was quick to open another. In 2001, Lyne’s dad was ready to stop racing. Her mother wanted to regain her weekends, but Lyne knew this was her life path and wasn’t prepared to lose it.

“I’ve always been a tomboy at heart,” Lyne said. “I watched racing with my dad. Growing up he watched NASCAR. In high school, I got tired of playing at the lake house, so I went to the local dirt track and fell in love with it. I just couldn’t get enough. It took a year for me to convince my dad to come to the track with me. He finally did and we sponsored a car that year, the following year he started to race limited cars. He ran hobby stocks and limited late models.”

At some point, Lyne and her father’s level of commitment drifted apart.

“He did it for about five years,” Lyne said. “And then my mom said: ‘I’m done racing. I want my weekends back. It’s just not fun anymore.’ I wasn’t ready to hang up my wenches and Dennis raced out of the same hometown so I, on a dare, went down and introduced myself; told him if you ever need any help, I’ll drill out rivets, I’ll help wash, whatever you need. Twenty-one years later here I am.”

Heather Lyne became the first female crew chief to secure a national touring late model championship in 2022. Paul Arch / World of Outlaws Late Model Series.

Breaking Through

Lyne entered a male-dominated job in a field that is also male-dominated – and where there were few examples of women creating these places for themselves. In this way, Lyne became a blueprint for other women as they strive to find a place for themselves in racing and in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) overall. She has her mother to thank for providing a strong role model, her father for sharing her passion, Erb for taking a chance on an unknow entity and most importantly herself.

“I was raised to believe that I can do anything, I want to do, as long as I put my heart and soul into it.” Lyne replied when asked about role models in the sport growing up. “My parents did not raise me to have that limitation. But from a racing role model perspective, I went in there completely green and just introduced myself to Dennis, the fact that he was brave enough to take that risk and bring a girl to the racetrack. Someone he didn’t know at all speaks volumes for him.”

Lyne and Erb have learned how to survive and succeed with each other on the road. They do this by leveraging decades of combined experience and an ability to adapt to the everchanging landscape of dirt late models. Next year the World of Outlaws visits nearly a dozen new tracks and Lyne sees it as an opportunity for continued success.

“I just want to do it again,” Lyne says going into next season, “I’m looking forward to the competition, I always do. I wouldn’t do it if I wasn’t competitively driven.

“There are some new tracks on the schedule that I’m looking forward to trying for the first time that I haven’t been to myself,” Lyne said of the 2023 season, “Dennis seems to do well on those first timers. We won out at Marion center, we finished second at Bloomsburg. We have a good solid notebook of information to tackle them over the last three years with these rocket race cars that we’re running. It’s good to have that information and leverage it to try some new things.”