Brownsburg, Ind. — Competing as Argentina’s first female driver to race in the United States, 21-year-old Julia Ballario makes her debut this year in the 2014 Pro Mazda Championship Presented by Cooper Tires. In addition to paving the road for other Argentinean female drivers, Ballario also makes another “first" in becoming Juncos Racing’s first Argentinean driver.
Ballario first tested with Juncos Racing in the fall of 2012, where she participated in the second annual Chris Griffis Memorial Mazda Road to Indy Open Test held at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. During the two-day test, she proved her ability to learn the open-wheel car, continued to log quicker lap times and placed eighth-quickest overall among fellow drivers.
The following year, Ballario joined Juncos Racing again in the official series test held at the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course in May.
Ballario’s racing career took off in the early 2000s, when she competed in numerous karting races throughout South America. Down the road, she competed in the 2006 Argentine Championship in Santiago del Estero, earning podium finishes in both Provincial and Federal Championships. The year 2007 marked her switch to Formula Renault Plus racing, where she gained recognition as Best Woman Driver in Federados Amateur Class. Throughout the next several years, Ballario continued to compete in Formula Renault Plus. After continued success on the track, two top five and four top-six finishes rounded out her 2012 season in the TC 2000. Ballario made her name known throughout South American racing.
“I’m very happy to have Julia committed for the full season in Pro Mazda," mentioned team owner Ricardo Juncos. “She completed two races with us last season. Undeterred by insufficient time to practice beforehand, she managed to leave us with a strong impression of her capabilities on the track." Alluding to her natural ability, Juncos added, “I foresee Julia
showing persistent growth as the season progresses."
Fellow Argentinean Juncos also pointed out: “She will become the first-ever woman from Argentina to race in the USA, and she is the first Argentinean driver on our team. I’m looking forward to working with her this season."
“I’m thrilled to be given the opportunity to compete this year in the Pro Mazda Championship in the United States with Juncos Racing," said Ballario. "This year will give me the experience and knowledge I need to become a better driver. Although I only spent a short time with Juncos Racing last year, I enjoyed the overall morale of the team. This was a main contributor in my decision to race with them this season.
"Looking ahead, I anticipate some difficulty with the oval courses as I have yet to test or race on that type of circuit. However, I remain enthusiastic and optimistic nonetheless. I’m ready to face any challenges that may present themselves.
"I want to thank everyone for helping me and for supporting me throughout my career — from easing my transition to a new country, to giving me guidance in the sport and everything in between. To the Juncos Racing members, Pistas Argentinas, Roberto Alonso, and my family —thank you for everything. In addition to facing challenges in the sport, living in a new country presents challenges of its own. I’m beyond grateful to have a great team on and off the track to steer me in the right direction. Finally, I want to give a big ‘thank you’ to all the Argentinean artists, whose art I will be displaying on my race car this season."
The team kicks off the 2014 Pro Mazda Championship Presented by Cooper Tires at the end of March in St. Petersburg, Fla.
About Juncos Racing: Stationed in Buenos Aires, Argentina and headed by Ricardo Juncos, Juncos Racing became a full-service Formula Racing team in 1997. By 2003, the team relocated to Miami, Fla., as a full-service karting team. During its first few years in the U.S., the team picked up 19 local, regional and national karting titles. Moving right along, Juncos Racing not only moved operations north to Indiana, but it developed into a formula open-wheel racing team in 2008. Now, the team was in full swing, dedicating most of its time preparing drivers and crew members for the new type of racing.
Following this transitional year, Juncos Racing participated in its first formula open-wheel series—the 2009 Pro Mazda Championship.
Despite challenges early in the season, the team gained multiple wins, second in the driver’s championship, and third in the team championship. By 2012, the team’s operations expanded to include cars in the Indy Lights series. Juncos Racing currently operates out of Brownsburg, Ind.