BSPort Racing is known on the track for the red, white, and blue Aston Martin duo of Bryan Putt and Kenton Koch. Behind the scenes, Kenton has another partner, his wife Dani Koch who also grew up in racing. We caught up with them as they prepared for Sebring.
SRO: We know that racing is often referred to as a family affair, and you two are a great example. Before we dive into the racing, let’s have Dani tell us how you two met.
DANI: We met at the 2014 SCCA Runoffs at Laguna! As you know, the racing world is quite small, and both being Mazda racers on the West Coast meant we had quite a few friends in common. Kenton was there as a coach for the Mazda drivers, many of which were my fellow Spec Miata racers. We crossed paths many times that week, managed to hangout for a bit one evening and hit it off right away, and we started dating (long distance) not long after!
SRO: Kenton -- What was your path to SRO?
KENTON: I began karting when I was 8 years old. At that point, racing wasn’t a career path, it was something I loved to do. I stepped up into cars at 16, after competing in a karting shootout where I won a half scholarship to compete in the Skip Barber Regional Series. Once in cars, my path forward relied on winning each championship to gain scholarships to compete at the next level. I gave it everything I had, and with a fair share of luck, I won the next four championships in a row. That funded my way up through the Skip Barber MAZDASPEED Challenge, Skip Barber MAZDASPEED Pro Challenge, MX-5 Cup, and IMSA Prototype Lites. That final championship gave me the opportunity to run in the 2016 24 Hours of Daytona and win in the PC class. Since then, I’ve been very fortunate to create a coaching career that’s helped me meet a ton of cool people and drive some sweet cars as well!
SRO: How did you meet Bryan Putt and how did BSPort come to be?
KENTON: I met Bryan through my friend Justin Piscitell back in 2016 when Bryan was looking for help in his DP02. After coaching him for a couple years, he wanted to step up from club racing and we determined the SRO TCR series would be a good spot for him. He was leading the 2019 DSG Cup championship in TCR when the team he was running with folded, so we found a way to finish off the year. BSPort was formed from the ashes of that previous team.
SRO: Was managing a race team something you thought about before meeting Kenton?
DANI: If you count helping my dad keep our Spec Miata in check, then yes. But, no, I’d never considered managing a professional race team before. I’m not sure either of us had until we were asked to help start BSPort.
SRO: What are your team roles when away from the track? How does that shift on race weekends?
DANI: When we started BSPort, we really didn’t know what we were doing as Team Managers. Our strategy was to hire people who were smarter than us and consistently ask our team for feedback on what needed to be improved. I attribute our success as a team largely to having the right people and keeping open lines of communication.
As far as our individual roles, it started out with us each working within our strengths. Since Kenton is first driver and coach, we knew I needed to take on the role as primary manager during race weekends. Initially, Kenton did most of the work away from the track, and at the track, he primarily covered anything technical with the car, while I covered the general admin, hospitality, and marketing aspects. However, with our team growing to add a second car and Kenton’s schedule getting busier than ever, I’ve taken on the role of primary manager this year, both during race events and away from the track. Kenton still helps with some of the technical components, but his primary role is as a driver and coach.
SRO: Tell us about the team. It looks like a pretty tight knit group. How did you recruit them?
DANI: Our BSPort team is like family. We enjoy our time together, and especially enjoy eating great meals together and hanging out after the work is done. Most of us worked together on previous teams, and filled in the missing pieces with referrals from trusted friends.
KENTON: When you’ve been in motorsports for any period of time, you get to know a lot of people. So, we chose the people we liked to work with!
SRO: How do you like working with Aston Martin?
KENTON: Aston Martin and CSJ has been great to work with! They have great track support that’s made it easy for us as a new team. It’s been a unique experience to work with them, not just as a driver, but as a team manager and on the technical side too. You get to know a lot more of the behind the scenes, and that’s allowed me to build a strong relationship with them. We’ve been happy with the car, the support, and everything in between.
SRO: Who are some of the BSPort partners who make this effort possible?
KENTON: We are fortunate to have support from Aires, Justice Brothers, and Motorsports Café.
SRO: What was the biggest surprise about running a team?
KENTON: How often the tractor trailer breaks down…
SRO: What advice do you have for someone who'd like to race in SRO?
KENTON: Drive anything you can and get connected with someone to help you develop as a driver and point you in the right direction. Knowing the right people can help you get with a program that fits your goals as well as open up opportunities for the future.
SRO: How did you balance racing while earning your degree at Cal State Fullerton? Were you involved with their Formula SAE team?
KENTON: Earning my Bachelor’s Degree from CSUF while traveling for races was certainly difficult. I took more than one midterm/final while on the road for an event, which wasn’t ideal, but I worked through it and completed my degree. I was also part of their FSAE team, which was not only a lot of fun, but taught me a lot of real world experience as well.
SRO: Any role models for you in racing, people who have inspired how you operate?
KENTON: Justin Wilson and Tommy Kendall, both genuinely nice people, great drivers, and tall guys, which showed me it was possible for me to make it in racing even at 6’4”.
SRO: Tell us why Donate Life is such a key charity for you.
KENTON: My mom had a heart transplant seven years ago, so organ donation is a very important cause to me and my family. We’ve promoted Donate Life America over the years to share the importance of registering as an organ donor and the many lives that can impact.
SRO: Is it too early to talk about your 2023 plans?
KENTON: As of now, we’re planning to run SRO Pirelli GT4 America again in 2023. Beyond that, we’re not sure yet!