Driver Spotlight: Patrick Dempsey
Driver: No. 27 Dempsey Racing Porsche 911 GT America
How has the season gone for you, both from a driving and team perspective?
“I would like better results and to be a little more competitive but everything just has to work perfectly. Watkins Glen was great for us and we came close to a podium, which is our obvious goal at every race. It was also great to see Madison (Snow) and Jan (Heylen) finish in the top three at Road America. John Wright and his crew have brought a lot to our team since we started together at Detroit. It was nice to see it finally pay off and hopefully it will again in the year’s final races. Everything just has to come together, particularly in GTD where we have seen the Porsches in total struggle under the rules at some tracks this year.”
VIR will be the first-ever GT-only race for the series. Are you looking forward to that format?
“It certainly will be interesting and I am looking forward to it. The GTD class ran with the PC cars at Laguna but this feels like a better fit with all GT cars. I don’t expect it to be easy but it will certainly be less crowded on track, but still close and competitive. The all-class formats at Indy and Road America were just chaotic, too much in some ways, and we saw what can happen to you at Elkhart Lake. Just running GT cars at VIR should be a good fit on that track.”
Given your busy schedule, what do you do to prepare for races?
“Preparation for racing happens at so many levels and at different points. It starts with your physical training before you even get to the track, an area I have really focused on in recent years. The fitness aspect of racing is so important because the sport requires so much of your body in every area, you just can’t be drained of energy if you are not fit. Not being in shape would just require more energy better spent on focus and the awareness needed in a race.
“The mental challenges are the hardest but I am lucky enough to work with some fantastic people who help in that area too, it’s critical in maintaining focus and your sanity! Just getting to a race is a major scheduling achievement at every event, juggling both my work schedule with trying to get to the track. It is always a challenge, but the people in Hollywood, and particularly at Grey’s Anatomy, have been very cooperative and understanding. It is never easy but some great people on both the acting and motorsports sides really help and work hard to make it all possible.”
Talk about your involvement with Porsche, and what it means for you on and away from the track?
“Racing with Porsche is an honor. We have been to Stuttgart several times in our relationship and there in particular you can really feel the deep passion for motorsport. It is a way of life really, a major part of the culture that even non-racing people have to feel, even if they don’t completely understand it. After Le Mans last year we had a great opportunity to get up to Stuttgart and see the museum, look at the LMP1 program and their overall racing program and to really understand firsthand how passionate Porsche is about racing. It is their DNA, it is who they are, and being part of that I think it elevates your game. You want to live up to the expectation and the level of professionalism and performance on and off the track that Porsche demands.”
What are the differences/similarities in preparing for a race and preparing for a challenging acting role?
“Racing and acting are different passions, certainly, and I don’t think I have had anything that sort of compares in the acting world with the results and achievements that I have had in racing. I don’t think you can compare the two. There are so many things that are out of your control when you are making a movie. Both require repetitive practice and focus but that is really where it ends. The end result in racing is so much more complete in a way, even on bad days, compared to what you achieve in acting. I don’t think I have achieved anything in Hollywood that I have on the level of satisfaction that I have at Le Mans. I am still hoping to find that in Hollywood.”
What other races are on your bucket list?
“I would love to do some of the other major sports car races in Europe like Spa and the Nurburgring 24 hour races. I enjoyed the entire experience of running in Supercup at Hockenheim and certainly Le Mans. The understanding of road racing is much more mainstream in Europe. That is not to say we don’t have a strong heritage and history of road racing here in the United States, but it seems to be much more of a cultural universal in Europe and other parts of the world. We have dedicated and loyal road racing fans, there is just less of them here in the U.S., but I can tell you they do know their sport and are incredibly passionate about it.”