Purdue Partnership Paying Indycar Dividends For Juncos

Published: 05, Apr 2024

Juncos Hollinger Racing is moving closer to achieving its ambitions since becoming a full-time IndyCar Series team in 2022, thanks to a unique cooperation with Purdue University.

While the company remains the youngest team in North America's primary open-wheel championship, its rise farther up the grid is even more astounding given the absence of technical collaboration with the series' major organizations.

Some may refer to JHR's relationship with Arrow McLaren since last October, but this is just a strategic agreement centered on commercial and marketing initiatives.

Although other IndyCar teams, such as Meyer Shank Racing and Andretti Global, as well as AJ Foyt Racing and Team Penske, exchange technical data, Juncos emphasizes that this union is not the same.

"It's not a technical alliance," Juncos informed "That actually is not happening and will probably never happen."

The squad began the season with Romain Grosjean, who replaced Callum Ilott in the winter, reaching the Fast Six and qualifying sixth for the season-opening race in St Petersburg last month. That effort was rewarded in the race, when Grosjean finished in the top ten before retiring early after 82 of 100 laps due to a technical problem.

Purdue partnership paying IndyCar dividends for Juncos Hollinger Racing

Agustin Canapino led the JHR in the latest non-points exhibition at The Thermal Club, advancing from his heat to finish 10th in the final.

"We improved the team significantly compared to last year," Juncos remarked, referencing Ilott's two top five finishes in 2023.

"We are in our third year of relationship with Purdue University. We probably have seven to eight interns on the team; three of them already work full-time on the IndyCar side. The cooperation with Purdue is doing quite well."

This collaboration was founded in September 2021, around six months before launching as a full-time program. A range of internships for Purdue students, which extends across the College of Engineering, Purdue Polytechnic Institute, and Krannert School of Management, has proved to be an important component of JHR's sustained success.

It's also fair to acknowledge that, in addition to the interns, the regular team members' camaraderie and overall experience have played an important impact.

"We were able to create some things on the development side in the university that now we are using, so we use our designs and the students and some of the cooperation from Purdue to create some devices that are actually working good for us," said Juncos.

"In addition to adding talented programmers, the team concluded last year on a positive note. Remember, we were on the verge of finishing with both cars in the top five (at Laguna Seca), maybe even top three. Even in 2022, I came close to joining Callum Ilott in Laguna (after qualifying second).

"The team is always displaying bursts of brilliance on the technological side before even the McLaren alliance. This is definitely our development and effort.

"in the moment, the whole crew is really happy of what we've shown on speed in St. Pete, in testing, and at Thermal. And this is all thanks to our men and the fantastic connection we have with Purdue University.

Juncos has carried out the overarching idea of fostering youth and inexperience, even while driving a strong junior squad in IndyCar's developing series levels.

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And it's becoming more vital than ever, particularly as the grid expands despite a shortage of experienced workers strolling about the paddock.

"It has always been that way," Juncos said.

"There have been some issues in the past with young individuals who came and then just stayed for a year or two before moving on to some of the best clubs, even when we were not even full-time.

"That was something we had to attempt to correct because it's healthy for us. I don't mind investing in the youngest, but it has to be a long-term connection so we can grow the way we want.

"We operate in numerous areas that vary from any other IndyCar team, which is not good nor bad, but just different. Take some time to build it, okay? The best part is that we now have Purdue interns on board."

The collaboration has made progress, but it still prioritizes quality over number since Juncos incentivizes chances based on being "a good student" and going above and beyond.

That notion hasn't diminished demand, however, as JHR is presently preparing for an interview process by going over a list of 15 students hungry for a shot.

"The good stuff is that we can teach them the way we want and explain from the basics how this works instead of issues keep having people from other teams - which we do have some, obviously some people that came from other teams - but we were like way under with people last year," Juncos went on to say.

"Now that we're in the window we wanted, we're at ease. Going on, only the youngest will enter. That is why we also said that the Indy NXT team will serve as a springboard to the IndyCar, which is not yet completely operational with just one driver, but we are striving to put together a team on the correct side to develop not only drivers, but mechanics and engineers. I believe that is the way to go.

"I envision that because it is something we all need. We all need new individuals. We all need to continue educating the youngest since that is what is required, right?

"We don't have enough mechanics and engineers in motorsports in general. So, I believe the only way to do it is in the manner we are doing it."