Mixed results for Racing to End Alzheimer’s at Sebring

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Mixed results for Racing to End Alzheimer’s at Sebring

A difficult pair of races to begin the 2024 Porsche Carrera Cup season balanced by a record number of names honoring loved ones who have suffered from dementia and Alzheimer’s 

SEBRING, Fla. (18 March 2023) – The Racing to End Alzheimer’s team was fast – but unlucky – in the opening round of the 2024 Porsche Carrera Cup North America campaign at Sebring International Raceway this past weekend.

Racing to End Alzheimer’s champion driver Mark Kvamme entered the weekend beginning a quest for his third-consecutive championship in the renamed Masters category.

But his workload grew when a post-qualifying technical violation sent him back to the back of the 40-car grid for the start on board the No. 43 Racing to End Alzheimer’s Porsche 911 GT3 Cup Car (type 992) entry for both of the weekend’s 40-minutes races.

An additional penalty for unavoidable contact cost him four overall positions in the Thursday race. Then in Friday night’s race, Kvamme sprinted from the back of the grid to a podium position, only to be taken out by a competitor with three laps remaining.

But even more important was the huge numbers of race fans who came by the bright purple Racing to End Alzheimer’s tent next to the team transporter, chatting with founder Phil Frengs and, for some, placing their friend or family member’s name on the car.

“As always, it’s great to be at Sebring,” said Frengs. “We’ve had really a wonderful weekend – our story was featured in the local newspaper (the Highlands News Sun) and we put so many names on the car going into the weekend. There are 82 names on the car, which is the most we’ve ever had to start the season – and there are at least another 15 to 18 names that have come in so far this weekend, or that we’re expecting to come in, since we met more people this week than ever before.

“We also had a group of people who have been enthusiastic supporters that are part of Turn 4 Palm Palace, which is a big encampment here that has gone on for 20-plus years,” Frengs continued. “One of the gentlemen had made the donation to put his grandmother’s name and his wife’s mother’s name on the car, and he brought a crew of people to watch both names go on. He got quite emotional, as people often do. I was able to give him a hug and asked him to pass that hug on to his wife, whose mother just recently passed away. It was wonderful to see how enthusiastic and happy they were to be here: it brought tears to my eyes and tears to his eyes. So, we know we’re doing a good thing here.”

Kvamme, whose grandfather’s name is on the car, appreciates the chance to help the program grow.

“What Phil has done is amazing,” said Kvamme. “We’ve had a lot of local support this weekend, and gotten shoutouts from Racer magazine and IMSA, which is great. Everyone’s really getting behind this program.”

On the racing side of the program, Thursday’s qualifying saw Kvamme turn in a sensational final lap, missing the Masters class pole by only 0.064-seconds – but a ride-height violation later dropped him to the back of the field.

“I was going to be on the pole for Friday night’s race,” Kvamme said. “But you qualify for both races in that one session, and all of my times were disallowed. It was unfortunate, but it’s part of racing. We’d taken the car to tech before the race and it passed fine so the car must have settled somehow – we failed by 0.7 millimeters, that’s half the width of a dime! It gave us no advantage; it was just a silly thing.”

Once the green flag waved, Kvamme worked his way up the back, also helped by a great restart following the event’s lone caution period early in the race.

“We raced well,” Kvamme said of the Thursday race. “We started 40th, ended up 25th, fifth in the Masters class. Not great, not what I wanted to do, but it helped since I qualified second.”

With the avoidable contact penalty, Kwamme finished sixth in class.

Going into the second race, Kvamme said, “My plan was to pass as many people as I could and try to get on the podium.”

Sticking to his plan, he passed 11 cars on the opening lap to move to sixth in class. Following a lengthy restart, Kvamme passed four cars on the restart, moving up to third in the class. Down the stretch, he was fourth with three laps remaining as darkness blanketed the airport circuit – until a competitor bumped him from the inside in Turn 17. Kvamme spun, with a competitor literally running over the back of his Porsche. Kvamme tried to continue, but the damage proved terminal – resulting in 10th place Masters class finish.

Next up for Racing to End Alzheimer’s and the Porsche Deluxe Carrera Cup North America will be the doubleheader in support of the Formula One Miami Grand Prix at the Miami International Autodrome, May 3 to 5. The races will be broadcast live in the U.S., on IMSA.tv, the NBC Peacock streaming app and PorscheCarreraCup.us.