Sep 29, 2022
Mark Kvamme is making up for lost time in a sports car … any sports car. This weekend at Michelin Raceway Road Atlanta, the 61-year-old will check off the final box necessary to race in every class available across all seven IMSA-sanctioned series.
Considering he didn’t even start what has become this quest until beginning as a gentleman driver in 2014, the feat is all the more amazing. Since then, Kvamme has raced a car currently used in all classes of the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship, both IMSA Michelin Pilot Challenge classes, the IMSA Prototype Challenge, Ferrari Challenge North America, Lamborghini Super Trofeo North America and Porsche Carrera Cup North America.
The last series for the Columbus, Ohio, native to tackle is the Idemitsu Mazda MX-5 Cup Presented by BFGoodrich Tires. He’ll take on that doubleheader event this weekend.
“I’ve become addicted and I love it,” Kvamme said of IMSA racing, “and the series are so well done.”
The journey began with a dream Kvamme held for racing in the Rolex 24 At Daytona. A motocross and off-road truck racer prior, the opportunity arose in 2014 with Muehlner Motorsports in a GT Daytona class Porsche — the first of five GTD races for him that season.
Kvamme shared this ORECA FLM09 Prototype Challenge car with Don Yount, Buddy Rice and Daniel Burkett at Sebring in 2017. Michael Levitt / Motorsport Images
The following year, Kvamme found his way into a Daytona Prototype owned by Columbus friend Rob Gerwitz at the Rolex 24 and raced the full Ferrari Challenge season. Next in 2016 was a full WeatherTech Championship campaign in the Prototype Challenge class, where future star Renger van der Zande was a Starworks teammate.
The following year became an inflection point for Kvamme. “I started to get better and started taking it more seriously and did more races,” he said of his 2017 campaign.
It paid off. Racing for BAR1 Motorsports in a lineup that featured 2004 Indy 500 winner Buddy Rice, they finished on the Rolex 24 podium in the Prototype Challenge class.
In addition to racing in the Porsche GT3 Challenge Cup USA (predecessor of the Porsche Carrera Cup) from 2017-19, Kvamme added the WeatherTech Championship’s LMP2 and Michelin Pilot Challenge Touring Car classes to his resume.
Kvamme truly spread his racing wings in 2021, wheeling an LMP3 in the WeatherTech Championship, a Mercedes-AMG in the Grand Sport class of the Michelin Pilot Challenge and winning the LB Cup championship with co-driver Terry Olson in Lamborghini Super Trofeo.
This year, Kvamme leads the Porsche Carrera Cup Am class standings (with nine wins) heading into the finale weekend and added an IMSA Prototype Challenge series start in addition to WeatherTech Championship LMP3 and Michelin Pilot Challenge GS appearances. He realized another dream by racing at the 24 Hours of Le Mans in June, teaming with van der Zande in a Ferrari 488 GTE that would be the equivalent of the former GT Le Mans class in the WeatherTech Championship.
“Racing Le Mans and finishing Le Mans was un-effing believable with Renger!” Kvamme said. “That was amazing. In the IMSA paddock, obviously getting third at Daytona (in 2017) was incredible. Getting third at Watkins Glen (in 2016 with Maro Engel) was a big one. Quite frankly, winning LB Cup last year with Terry was a ton of fun.”
In addition to the special results, Kvamme said he’s thoroughly enjoyed racing with the who’s who list of co-drivers including van der Zande, Engel, Felix Rosenqvist, Randy Pobst and Earl Bamber, the latter his teammate when Kvamme made his 2014 debut.
“I’ll never forget going over data with Earl and I literally thought he was speaking a foreign language,” Kvamme said with a sheepish laugh. “I had no idea.”
After adding MX-5 Cup to his list this weekend, Kvamme has no intention of slowing down. He started his own team (MDK Motorsports) this year in Porsche Carrera Cup, with plans to expand with a WeatherTech Championship GTD entry in 2023.
“As I looked at all of this, I said to myself, ‘You know, there’s a lot of great teams out there, but I think for the gentleman driver, I’d like to do something different,’” he said. “That’s why I decided to start our team.”
If he starts in January’s Rolex 24, it will be the 10th straight year for Kvamme in the iconic race.
“What’s really fun is my 10th one next year,” he said, “will be with my own team in my own car.”