At the start of his sports car driving career, Mark Kvamme jumped right into the deep end.
“The first time I ever did it was the 24 Hours of Daytona in 2014,” Kvamme said. “It was pretty crazy going around in the Porsche and seeing (Christian) Fittipaldi go by and (Graham) Rahal go by. I’m going, ‘These guys are crazy.’ Well, it took me through the Roar (Before the Rolex 24 test) a couple of days, I got my feet underneath me and the rest has been history.”
Kvamme was a total racing neophyte when he arrived at Daytona in 2014. He just hadn’t raced sports cars. Nor had he really raced on paved racetracks.
“As a kid, I did motorcycle racing,” he said. “Then, I fell into computers, so I didn’t race for, like, 20 years and then I got into off-road dirt truck racing. I did that for a little bit, and then a buddy of mine knew the France family. He said, ‘Hey Mark, you should go do sports car racing.’ Unbeknownst to them, I had never been in a sports car, I’d never been on a racetrack.”
Since then, Kvamme has been on plenty of racetracks. He’s amassed 20 starts in the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship in different classes – Prototype, Prototype Challenge and GT Daytona – with a career best result of second in the PC class last year at Road America.
In January, Kvamme made his fifth consecutive start in the Rolex 24 At Daytona, sharing the No. 96 Turner Motorsport BMW M3 GT3 with Jens Klingmann, Martin Tomczyk, Don Yount and Cameron Lawrence.
And since the beginning of 2017, Kvamme has been a full-time competitor in the Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge USA by Yokohama.
Last year, he finished second in the Platinum Cup Masters point standings, with Platinum Masters victories at Barber Motorsports Park and Virginia International Raceway, which was a make-up race for an abandoned round earlier in the season at Watkins Glen.
This year, he’s off to a fast start, leading the Platinum Masters standings after the first event weekend earlier this month at Sebring with a pair of podium results in the No. 43 JDX Racing Porsche 911 Cup entry that carries sponsorship from P1 Insurance, one of Kvamme’s business ventures and a key piece to his GT3 Cup program.
“What I found with GT3 – which is really nice, as you can see we have the Hertz sponsorship – the ability to do B2B marketing is really, really good,” Kvamme said. “Hertz is a sponsor with the team, they work with Porsche, Porsche helps Hertz, and then combined with that, we’re doing the car insurance, P1 Insurance.
“It all comes together in a very, very nice way to where you get real value for racing. I love to race, I have a ton of fun, but now the sponsors get real value.”
And that’s really where the rubber meets the road for Kvamme. He’s able to combine his passion for business and motorsports and apply what he’s learned in both disciplines.
“I’m in the venture capital business, so I invest in ‘risky young startups,’” Kvamme said. “A lot of people think racing is risky as well. The difference is my startups take five to seven to eight years to actually become a real company, whereas racing, I can get it all done in a weekend.
“It’s kind of like, you’ve got the startup of the weekend. ‘Oh, how’s the track? How’s the car setup?’ You actually go through the whole weekend trying to figure that out, and then you have the race. It’s very similar to a startup, so I marry the both of them and it’s a lot of fun.”
Kvamme’s next chance to have fun comes next month at Barber Motorsports Park for the next two rounds of the Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge USA by Yokohama season on April 21-22. The races will run as part of the Honda Indy Grand Prix of Alabama weekend.