Dempsey announced his LMP2 program at Sebring - ALMS photoEnlarge Photo
Actor/racer Patrick Dempsey makes his American Le Mans Series (ALMS) debut this weekend at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca, driving in the six-hour American Le Mans Monterey presented by Patron. Dempsey, who has driven extensively in the Grand-Am Rolex Sports Car Series' GT category makes his long-awaited debut in the Dempsey Racing Lola/Judd/Michelin LMP2 coupe, following a successful shakedown and three-day test at Miller Motorsports Park in Utah.
Dempsey partners with fellow Dempsey Racing team principal Joe Foster and Briton Jonny Cocker in Saturday's six-hour race, the third event in ALMS' season. Dempsey Racing also has a Prototype Challenge entry in the race.
“It is nothing short of an awe-inspiring experience in every respect,” said Dempsey, who will be racing a prototype sports car for the first time. “It feels familiar but so much more intense - the braking, the acceleration, cornering and power, it is all on a much more dynamic level than the GT cars I have driven.
"It’s an amazing machine and it is incredible to even have the opportunity to race in a car like this at this level, and what better track to start with than Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca," Dempsey continued. "This race will really be a continuation of our learning and testing process only this time in front of a bigger crowd. We should be able to accomplish much more development and familiarization during an endurance race.”
Dempsey and Foster announced the team's move into LMP2 for a partial ALMS season just a month ago. Dempsey Racing's plans call for a full championship run in 2013 with an entry in the 24 Hours of Le Mans in the near future.
Foster said, "There have been a lot of adventures over the last few months getting the program together. Patrick and I are very excited. We knew long-term - having a great time at Le Mans in 2009 (where they shared a Ferrari GT car) - that Patrick wanted to go back with his team and his own car at some point. So it's been several years that we've been trying to get this program together and it's finally starting to break ground and break cover."
The more experienced Foster knows the biggest challenge of running a car like their Lola/Judd coupe is getting to know it. "It's a pretty tried and true package - which we did on purpose. There's really nothing groundbreaking, but it's on the high end of the class in terms of the technology."
There are few teams that compete in two classes at once, and Dempsey Racing is taking on that task over the weekend. Henri Richard, Duncan Ende and Ryan Lewis drive the team's ORECA FLM09 in the LMPC class; the other two teams that have cars in multiple classes are Muscle Milk Pickett Racing (LMP1 and LMPC) and Lotus Alex Job Racing (GT and GT Challenge).
The American Le Mans Monterey starts at 1:30PM PDT on Saturday, May 12, with teams racing around the 2.238-mile Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca circuit into the darkness. ESPN2 airs the race the following day at 5PM EDT.