Jr III ("Junior Three") Racing will open 2020 with a return to professional competition as the team heads to Daytona International Speedway for the IMSA Prototype Challenge season-opener. The team will field the Photon Racing father-son duo of Greg and Eric Palmer in the No. 3 Copps Industries Ligier JS P3 Prototype for the three-hour race held during the Roar Before the Rolex 24 on Saturday, January 4.
Greg Palmer drove for Kelly Moss Road and Race in 2017-18 in the IMSA Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge USA before joining his son last year co-driving an Audi R8 in the SRO World Challenge. Prior to that, Palmer coached his son at track days before Eric began competing in the Battery Tender Global Mazda MX-5 Cup in 2019, driving for Copeland Motorsports.
The move to the LMP3 ranks marks a new chapter for the Palmers as they grow their racing resume.
"It’s going to be kind of overwhelming to be racing in a new series at Daytona," Greg Palmer said. "Hopefully, Eric and I will be driving with big smiles on our faces when we drive on the big oval for the first time. Getting to be at a legendary track with an amazing car is going to be an incredible experience."
Jr III Racing made a pair of exploratory outings at the end of the 2019 campaign, resulting in a pair of Bronze Cup victories for veteran driver Kris Wilson. Driving a Ligier JS P3 prepared by accomplished engineer Rick Cameron, Wilson finished ninth at Virginia International Raceway and eighth in the season finale at Road Atlanta to claim the Bronze Cup.
"We tested the Ligier with Jr III at Carolina Motorsports Park a few weeks ago," Greg Palmer said. "I loved the car. I’ve been watching those types of cars for years, but my only time in one before was running five laps in a Ligier at Road America two years ago at a private test. To me, the Ligier feels like a real race car. The Porsche and the Audi were great, but the Ligier is the full experience – the sound, the vibration, the seating position, the ability to be at eye-level with the apex – is perfect. It’s exactly what I’m looking for."
Eric, 20, is finishing his final exams at Lake Forest College near Chicago.
"For years, Eric and I had our eyes on the Prototype as the ultimate race car," Greg Palmer said. "I wanted to see if he was ready at the Carolina test. He got out of the car with his eyes wide open, and now he’s ready to race it at Daytona."
Greg Palmer read about Jr III’s progress and after reaching out to team owner Billy Glavin, was pleased with the full time team that Glavin has assembled. The team also prepares cars for major vintage and historic sports car racing.
"I saw there was a new team and they were looking for drivers," Greg Palmer said. "I started talking to team owner Billy Glavin. I liked his approach and his organization. Then I saw he was a technical person by degree, and that was of interest to me. As we started talking back and forth, everything seemed to be well organized. We decided to do the test, and we liked the way everything was prepared and all set up. It really worked out well.
"Our expectations for Daytona is to have a great time and walk away with a terrific experience," Greg Palmer said. "If we like it enough, we’ll keep moving on and do the Sebring event in March."
Jr III Racing has a second brand-new Ligier LMP3 platform that could be utilized as soon as Sebring (March 18-21) based on how programs come together for the re-formatted IMSA Prototype Challenge category.
"We learned a lot in our first two IMSA races last year, and we are looking forward to building on that with Greg and Eric," said Jr III team owner Glavin. "I’m really happy that everything has come together for Daytona and my guys are geared up for the weekend. There is a lot that goes into these weekends, and especially so for a three hour race like Daytona so it was great to have everything finalized with the Copp Industries car to be able to check everything off our list before heading down there after the New Year."
The Daytona season-opener is set to take the green flag at 12:15 p.m. ET on Saturday, Jan. 4. Race highlights will be televised on NBCSN at 4:30 p.m. ET on Tuesday, Jan. 14.