Dempsey Brings Star Power To Rolex Series

Watkins Glen, NY – Patrick Dempsey is best known to television viewers as neurosurgeon Dr. Derek Shepherd or “McDreamy” in ABC’s popular Grey’s Anatomy program. But to race fans, they know the handsome actor as co-driver of the Hyper Sport Mazda RX-8 in the Grand-Am Rolex Sports Car Series.

Dempsey is relatively new to racing, and he is making his Rolex Series debut at Watkins Glen International this weekend. “This is my first time on the track, and I have a big learning curve ahead of me,” Dempsey said after completing the first practice session. “The morning session was a physical and mental challenge. I tried to be patient and stay within myself. Also it was more difficult after my recent layoff.”

Even though Dempsey is a celebrity, the actor said the other drivers and team members treat him just like anyone else. “The drivers just treat me like another driver,” the actor said. “In the paddock this morning, I felt very relaxed and I was able to forget about everything else. I am the happiest when I am at the track. Other than being with my family, the track is my favorite place to be.”

Said co-driver Joe Foster, “Our objective this morning was to get Patrick familiar with the track and the car. As always, he was very measured and precise. He did a fantastic job and stayed out of trouble.”

The actor’s father got him involved in racing. “My father was very big into it. We always watched the Indy 500, NASCAR and other races on television,” he said. “I did a Skip Barber driving school some nine years ago and learned more of the basics at the Panoz racing school and the race series. I then raced in the Koni Challenge Series a couple of times and now this is my third Rolex Series race.”

Dempsey’s schedule is a busy one with three young children, including year-old twins. “My cardio is very good as I try to keep up with the children,” he said. “I can’t wait for them to get a little bit older so they can come with me to the track. Right now my schedule is a bit difficult with my movie and television responsibilities.”

He said he was very enthused to be racing at Watkins Glen. “You can’t help but think about the history of the track. I can’t imagine what it would have been like for the F1 guys back in the 60s. Thinking about it gives me a real appreciation for their abilities and the insanity of the times.”

Comparing acting to racing, Dempsey said the two disciplines are very different. “Acting presents a slightly different challenge, even though I have been doing it for a long time. Racing is a mental and physical experience that challenges your ability to stay grounded. And you need the ability to be honest with yourself. Also, the camaraderie of the racing community is what keeps bringing me back. It is very warm and inviting.”

Dempsey admitted he has a lot to learn and he plans to do just that. And he fully hopes to do a full season of Rolex Series competition in the next year or two.

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