MOORESVILLE, N.C. – Jr III Racing will expand to a two-car effort during the upcoming IMSA Prototype Challenge season.
Having staged a successful IMSA campaign with the father-son driving pair of Greg and Eric Palmer in the No. 3 Copps Industries Ligier, the team will grow to a two-car operation for the new season as the team is set to campaign the No. 33 Airbnb Ligier JSP30 of Ari and Natasha Balogh. Greg and Eric Palmer will also enter their sophomore year with the Charlotte-area team.
The Palmers combined for five top-10 finishes in six outings in 2020 including the team’s best IMSA finish of fifth at Sebring Int’l Raceway.
Jr III Racing Team Owner Billy Glavin knows the importance of family, having started the team with his father and fellow racer, Bill Glavin Jr. That same familial importance that started Jr III Racing has now extended into its driver lineup with the father-daughter duo of Ari and Natasha Balogh. The pair are set to make their IMSA debut next month at the Roar Before the 24 at Daytona Int’l Speedway.
Ari Balogh, 56, began racing four years ago and has competed in Trans-Am, Pirelli World Challenge and the IMSA Michelin Pilot Challenge. Balogh won the 2017 PWC SprintX GTS Am Championship on the strength of four wins, two poles highlighting a season that saw him take podium finishes in all 10 races. He continued to split time between the three series for the following two years, earning a podium finish at VIR in last year’s IMPC event.
“Joining Jr III Racing and competing in the IMSA Prototype Challenge is an exciting new challenge for my daughter and I,” said Ari Balogh. “Billy (Glavin) has put together a great team of professionals who support me and Natasha’s (Balogh) venture into Prototype racing. The Ligier is unlike anything I have driven before. It requires a new driving style that I have been adapting to during our test sessions. I am looking forward to getting the season started soon and getting behind the wheel of the No. 33 at Daytona International Speedway.”
Natasha Balogh, 21, first began racing after her parents enrolled her in the National Auto Sport Ass’n’s Teen Driving Clinic in order to learn how to avoid collisions in her street car.
Thoroughly enthralled by the experience behind the wheel, the then-15-year-old began racing in NASA and SCCA events, which saw Natasha score a second-place finish in the E1 class at the 25 Hours of Thunderhill in 2018.
What makes Natasha’s story even more remarkable is that she has a hearing disability which involves an enlarged vestibular aqueducts, or EVA. Because of this condition, Balogh must be particularly careful to guard against head injuries or experiencing extreme changes in pressure (i.e. airplanes or scuba diving). Her love of racing and her trust in her equipment gives her the confidence to take on the challenge, and Balogh’s recent test with Jr III Racing has her ready to get the season underway.
“Hopping into the Ligier for the first time was unreal,” said Natasha Balogh. “Beyond the sensation of being in a closed cockpit vehicle, the speed and aero is really out of this world. I’m excited to get more seat time so I can get settled before the season starts, but I’m also excited to start testing the limits of what the car can do. Jr III Racing is an incredible group of professionals. The camaraderie and teamwork is palpable. Having teammates that are a father-son duo shows the team is centered around family and emphasizes how important it is that the team is cohesive. Seeing as success comes from teamwork, to see that in the team, and across the drivers, I’m really optimistic about what we can accomplish together.”
Billy Glavin looks to continue both the on and off-track growth for the young team.
“We are very excited to welcome the Baloghs to the team as we take on this next chapter for Jr III,” said Glavin. “Jr III Racing was formed as an outgrowth of the passion my father and I share for the sport. So having a father-son and father-daughter driver pairings as part of the team just adds to the family-oriented environment we have. We learned so much in our first year in IMSA. Now we have our program running efficiently with knowledge of how the Ligier performs at each track that we are able to use to continue our progress. I am looking forward to heading back to Daytona to start the season.”
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