ONE FOCUS, ONE GOAL
from winning the 24 Hours of Daytona (we
still ended up third). The team won races.
But, like all racers, I dreamed of Le Mans.
In 2009, I was able to make my first trip
to France to race at Le Mans and placed
ninth in class. We were all amazed by how
much attention our efforts received and
by the reaction of the French fans. It was
completely unexpected and rewarding,
too. My only goal then was to get back to
Le Mans. Every day we worked to figure
out a way to not only get back, but also be
in the position to win.
Joe Foster and I spent a season
developing and racing a Lola P2 car, hoping
to put a Mazda motor in the back and
return to Le Mans. We began documenting
this for a Velocity TV show called Patrick
Dempsey Racing Le Mans. When Mazda
decided to go a different direction, we got
together with Porsche and Proton Racing,
which took us back to Le Mans in 2013.
That was an amazing race. After 24
hours, Joe, Pat Long and I were less than a
minute from the podium, and five minutes
behind the winner. One less problem, and
we would have been on the podium – and
a perfect race would have meant victory.
Long term, the best part of that 2013
race was being able to deliver a strong
showing in front of Porsche. We led
several times and I drove one of my best
races. Finishing fourth was heartbreaking,
but we did make Porsche sit up and take
notice. I continued to race a Porsche in
the American Le Mans Series’ GTC class,
but we’d already started planning another
Le Mans effort, again with Proton Racing.
2014 didn’t go as planned. We finished
fifth, which in some ways was easier than
fourth. But unlike 2013, we were never
really in the race. We didn’t have the pace,
we made too many mistakes, and it ended
up being a frustrating experience.
I realized it was just too tough to drive one
car in the U.S., another at Le Mans, and
have any hope of winning. I knew I needed
to make some tough and painful changes.
Unfortunately, I knew a sacrifice had to
take place on a personal and professional
level, but also felt that there was the
opportunity of a lifetime close at hand.
I needed to introduce the same control
I had behind the wheel of a racecar into
my acting life, so I started Shifting Gears
Productions. We acquired the rights to the
Phil Hill Formula 1 epic, The Limit, as well as
a number of other great projects. This new
venture has given me more flexibility and
also allows me to spend more time with
my family when I’m home from racing.
Now I had the time to do what I needed to
do to reach my full potential as both a racer
and actor. My partnerships with Porsche,
TAG Heuer, Spyder and Beautyrest Black
gave me the resources to take the plunge
and take on the world. For 2015, my new
focus became Dempsey Proton Racing,
Dempsey Wright Racing, and the FIA World
Endurance Championship. My focus in acting
became developing shows that I could
control at Shifting Gears Productions.
Looking at these two paths, I can say that
my life journey has never looked better,
and also has never been more challenging.
So, yes, I am serious. I’ve been moving
in this direction for more than 10 years. I
changed my approach to racing and walked
away from a very well-paid acting job to
race in the World Endurance Championship.
Is that serious enough for you?
Patrick Dempsey’s prime focus for 2015 is racing
the Dempsey Proton Porsche 911 RSR (BELOW)
in the FIA World Endurance Championship’s
ultra-competitive LM GTE-Am class.