20 SEPTEMBER 2019 scca.com
“It was ironic to be called
a ‘rookie,’ when I’d been
autocrossing for over 20 years at
that point,’” Mark laughs about
his Rookie of the Year title. In
the same breath, however, he’s
quick to point out that he agrees
with the SCCA offering such
recognition. “The competition
is really intense at the Solo
National Championships, so
I can understand why there is
a Rookie of the Year for the
National Championships – it’s a
completely different event.”
Ironic or not, that year, Mark
explains, was breathtaking. “2014
was a dream come true,” he
recalls. “To finally make it to the
Solo National Championships and
then win it – I took second that
year in G Street for the ProSolo
season championship and then
won the National Championship.
But that year’s journey
nearly didn’t happen. In fact,
with Bridgestone. He’s also built
relationships with the likes of
Karcepts and AutoXGraphics.
com, which come in addition
to support he already received
from Strano Performance Parts.
But none of this happened out
of thin air. Truth be known – and
this is the part I didn’t know
prior to chatting with Mark – his
journey began decades earlier.
“I’ve had a love for cars since
I was a little kid playing with Hot
Wheels and riding my big wheel,”
Mark tells me the day after the
photo shoot as we sit outside a
Peet’s Coffee near San Francisco.
But while the love of cars existed,
growing up in the mountains in
the small town of Twain Harte,
nestled between California’s oak
forest and the Sierra Nevada,
meant opportunities to stretch
his automotive legs were rare.
“There weren’t go-kart centers
around the corner or anywhere
I think I should forget about
Nationals – we’ve got too much
going on and money’s tight,”
he says. “She looked me in
the eye, and she said, ‘Nope.
You’re going. Through your
entire life you’ve been talking
about going and you’ve never
made it. You have a great car,
you’ve been winning events,
and you’ve got a great sponsor.
If not now, when? You’re going.
We’ll figure it out.’ So, I went.”
Mark’s 2014 Solo Nationals
win ultimately led to the
sponsorship he currently holds
THE GOOD TIMES
(ABOVE) Mark has no shortage of autocross trophies, but when pressed for which
mean the most to him, he points to his 2014 Solo Nationals win and Rookie of the Year
awards, plus the ProSolo JCJ Cup and accompanying Kiesel guitar he won in 2017.
as is often the case, it took
a significant other to ensure
the stars would align.
“In 2014, I started doing the
full gamut of West Coast National
Solo events – San Diego, the El
Toro ProSolo, and both of the
events at Crows Landing – and
I swept them all,” he tells me of
the year that elevated his name
from Regional competitor to a
National contender. “That year,
Sam Strano was helping me a lot,
and my G Street Ford Focus ST
was working awesome. And then,
in July, right around the time you
have to start reserving hotels for
the Solo Nationals, money was
tight, and my job was demanding.
I remember thinking about it
one day while driving down the
freeway; I just can’t do it, I thought.
There was just too much going
on. Maybe I’d go next year.
“I got home that night and
told my wife, Julie, that yeah,