In 2019, Demaras Racing put our support behind Racing to End Alheimer’s by organizing fundraisers for the charity. In the years since, Phil Frengs and R2ENDALZ have continued their mission. A unique entity in professional motorsports, R2ENDALZ races a ‘rolling billboard’ for Alzheimer’s awareness.
The team at Racing to End Alzheimer’s would race just about anywhere. We crisscross the country, bouncing from state to state and track to track, competing for podiums and spreading awareness for our cause. We love it all, from Watkins Glen to Laguna Seca and everything in between. That said, every once in a while a race weekend comes along that reminds us of why we’ve dedicated our lives to this sport. The 2023 Acura Grand Prix of Long Beach was one of those race weekends.
Not only is the Long Beach Grand Prix a close-to-home race for Southern California-based Racing to End Alzheimer’s, it’s also one of the most exciting and atmospheric venues for motorsports in the world. The road race cuts through downtown Long Beach, where wide boulevards and hairpin turns allow just enough room for quick passing moves. Drivers must be precise, as the absence of shoulders promises to reward a mistake with a catastrophic collision. This a place where winners are crowned on their ability to hug concrete walls without touching them.
Skill, speed and daring. The right stuff for a racecar driver. Luckily for MDK/Racing to End Alzheimer’s, Mark Kvamme has the right stuff.
During Saturday’s race, the challenges associated with racing at close to 200 miles per hour on lightly modified city streets reared their ugly heads. With so little room for error, collisions can happen in the blink of an eye. For Kvamme and the #43, this fact asserted itself in hair-raising fashion.
Coming out of turn one and headed into turn two, the MDK/Racing to End Alzheimer’s car was bumped hard from behind, forcing it to collide with the car in front. The #43 sustained some body damage but was able to continue without performance trouble.
With a crumpled back bumper serving as a symbol for close calls and survival, Kvamme expertly maneuvered his way through the next forty minutes unscathed. Leading the Am class for most of the race, he put on a clinic of consistent and effective head-of-the-pack driving. Two caution periods slowed the race significantly, as the track seemingly refused to be tamed.
With a comfortable lead, the #43 entered the second run of yellow flag conditions positioned to finish at the top of the podium. Due to the severity of a dramatic head-on collision, the race ended under caution and Kvamme was crowned with his second victory this season.
Saturday’s inspired drive paid dividends on Sunday, as the #43 started in pole position for race two. Right out of the gate, however, it was clear that this would not just be a walk in the park for Mark Kvamme. Perennial challenger John Goetz in the #53 and Scott Noble in the #10 did not intend to make it easy for the MDK/Racing to End Alzheimer’s team.
The pressure on the #43 was constant, with Goetz sitting around half a second behind for a long portion of the race. Kvamme would put some distance between him and the #53, only to watch his lead slowly shrink as time dragged on.
In races like this, near perfection is required, and Mark delivered. Holding off his challengers by putting in good lap after good lap, the reigning Carrera Cup champ showed why he is considered one of the most elite drivers on track. When the checkered flag was waved, MDK/Racing to End Alzheimer’s emerged victorious for the second day in a row.
So, again we say that racing is always great. But it’s even better when, at the end of the day, the Southern California sun is setting into the deep blue Pacific and your team is watching from the top spot of the podium at the Long Beach Grand Prix.