Actor Patrick Dempsey Set for Return to Le Mans | Edmunds

Actor Patrick Dempsey Set for Return to Le Mans

Just the Facts:
  • Actor Patrick Dempsey will race in the 24 Hours of Le Mans in June.
  • It will be the second Le Mans start for Dempsey, who first raced there in 2009.
  • The star of ABC's "Grey's Anatomy," Dempsey is a serious auto racing competitor.

NORCROSS, Georgia —Actor and auto racer Patrick Dempsey will return to the 24 Hours of Le Mans in this year's 81st running of the endurance classic.

The veteran of a number of stage, television and movie productions, Dempsey, 47, found serious stardom in the role of neurosurgeon Dr. Derek Shepherd in the television series "Grey's Anatomy," which debuted in 2005 and is still running.

He's known as "Dr. McDreamy" to thousands of adoring fans.

He is also a serious racing enthusiast, with a pedigree that has a late start but is filling in nicely. His driving career began the year before "Grey's Anatomy" first aired, when he received a three-day Skip Barber Racing School experience as a gift from his wife.

He raced in the Panoz GT, Mazdaspeed Miata MX-5 Cup and Toyota Pro/Celebrity Race in Long Beach, California, in 2005, plus the Baja 1000 off-road race, and then moved up to the Rolex Series in GT competition. He has been a semi-regular competitor, missing races only because of acting requirements and some insurance-driven restrictions.

That led to his first start at Le Mans in 2009, in a Ferrari F430 GT fielded by Advanced Engineering Team Seattle, with co-drivers Don Kitch Jr. and Joe Foster. They finished 9th in GT class, 30th overall.

The next two years, Dempsey raced in the Rolex 24 at Daytona, logging a 3rd-place finish in class in 2011.

This year, Dempsey will drive a Porsche 911 GT3 RSR to be fielded by Dempsey Racing in collaboration with Proton Competition of Germany and Del Piero Racing of Italy. Co-drivers will be Foster and Michael Avenatti.

Dempsey's GTE-Am entry was one of 56 accepted from 71 applications by the race's promoters, Automobile Club de l'Ouest (ACO).

Edmunds says: Of the various celebrities who have dabbled in auto racing, from James Dean in the 1950s to James Garner, Paul Newman, Steve McQueen and others in the '60s and '70s, to Craig T. Nelson, Tim Allen, et al in recent years, some have been more serious — and more talented — than others. Dempsey appears to fit into that "better" category.

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