Patrick Dempsey (yes, the actor) getting more serious about racing
Patrick Dempsey’s 2015 racing calendar will be a busy one, with a full FIA World Endurance Championship schedule and the Tequila Patron North American Endurance Cup rounds of the TUDOR United SportsCar Championship on his plate.
The thing that isn’t on his plate as it was for the last decade, either as Hyper Sport Engineering or later as Dempsey Racing as its own entity in partnership with longtime business partner Joe Foster, is a team management and ownership role.
It was an offseason of change for the actor, who has sought to add more racing to his plate with each passing year. The dual FIA WEC/Patron Endurance Cup driving outlook for 2015 is proof of that.
Meanwhile, Dempsey Racing as its own team is now in the past, with Dempsey instead partnering with Wright Motorsports in IMSA and Proton Competition in the FIA WEC.
The goal through all of this for Dempsey is to have a renewed focus on driving, rather than juggling the roles of both team ownership and driving once arriving at the track.
“It was just streamlining, cleaning things up, putting the focus on getting to the track and driving,” Dempsey told Sportscar365. “It’s looking at what I need to do to improve my driving and consistency in the car.
“It was where I just had to make it simple and get back to enjoying it."
The decision for the team not to return in its same guise for 2014 in the TUDOR Championship, more than anything, was budget-related as costs were higher than anticipated.
“Certainly last year with the merger, there were a lot of expenses that occurred during the year that were unforeseen,” Dempsey said. “Everyone shared that throughout the paddock.
“It became a lot of pressure on how to raise the money and keep the funding coming in. It took away from the enjoyment of the sport for me.
“It was just time. It was a cycle that came to an end. Now we’re beginning a new cycle, and one that I’m really looking forward to.”
The respective new cycles have been growing over the last two years, though.
Dempsey’s last two 24 Hours of Le Mans outings have come with Proton, first in an older 997-based Porsche 911 GT3 RSR in 2013 before the team added a second 991-spec, new 911 RSR for 2014.
In IMSA, Dempsey began working with John Wright’s team mid-year last year, with the No. 58 entry driven by Jan Heylen and Madison Snow under the Dempsey umbrella if not specifically under the Dempsey Racing team name.
The Wright addition, Dempsey said, helped the team turn around its season with the GT Daytona-spec Porsche 911 GT America.
A podium at Virginia International Raceway, Dempsey sharing with co-driver Andrew Davis, was the high point.
“He really helped turn our program around,” Dempsey said of Wright. “We had a great run at VIR where everything gelled. That gave us a taste of what we can do.
“What we learned from that weekend, we are really bringing into this season. There were no distractions; we’re focused on looking at the data.
“Plus that weekend was so great; it’s a driver’s track, so much fun with the esses and a great rhythm. Doing it there was very special.”
Dempsey is already meshing well with Rolex 24 teammates Heylen, Snow and Porsche Mobil 1 Supercup ace Philipp Eng in the Brumos Racing-liveried No. 58 Porsche.
For the FIA WEC season, he’s keen on getting to all the new circuits beyond Le Mans.
“That’s the allure is getting to a lot of tracks I haven’t been to before: Spa, Silverstone, Japan and others,” he said. “That’s part of the experience. Getting used to the RSR. All of it’s good. I want to enjoy this year.”
Commercially speaking, Dempsey and Porsche are working closer together in 2015, Beautyrest and TAG have renewed their corporate support and Spyder active wear joins for the season.
The team will shortly announce its third FIA WEC full-season driver, which will be a Silver-rated driver alongside Bronze-rated Dempsey and Porsche factory ace Patrick Long, the team’s lead pro.
Dempsey spoke highly of his and Long’s relationship, in looking to grow what they already had in the last two Le Mans.
“We’re having a good time and we both live in California, so we’re spending a lot of time together,” he said. “We’ve been go-karting and planning our season.
“The pre-production of our season is very important, that’s what we’re focusing on.”