Patrick Dempsey ready for Sebring roles

HOLLYWOOD STAR PATRICK DEMPSEY RELISHING DRIVING, GRAND MARSHAL ROLE N/A - Popular actor Patrick Dempsey, star of ABC's top-rated television drama Grey's Anatomy, is on a short break from his acting responsibilities regarding his portrayal of Dr.

HOLLYWOOD STAR PATRICK DEMPSEY RELISHING DRIVING, GRAND MARSHAL ROLE

N/A - Popular actor Patrick Dempsey, star of ABC's top-rated television drama Grey's Anatomy, is on a short break from his acting responsibilities regarding his portrayal of Dr. Derek Shepherd - a role that earned him nomination for best actor in a drama at this year's Golden Globes and Screen Actors Guild awards - to race and serve as Grand Marshal of the 54th running of the Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring at Sebring International Raceway (Sebring, Fla.).

"It's a privilege to be here, especially this track (Sebring International Raceway) and its 54 years of history," Dempsey said Thursday. "For me to be here and be the Grand Marshal of this race is a tremendous honor. I love the history of the 12 Hours of Sebring, and I think that's part of the joy of it for me. The sense of history and the fact the track hasn't changed too much - it's still very rough."

Dempsey literally got a feel for the demands associated with the rough surface of the historic road course track. He hit the ground driving upon his Thursday arrival at Sebring, as before addressing the media he first tested his skill from behind the wheel of a Panoz Esperante GT-RA in preparation for this afternoon's Panoz Racing Series GT race in which he finished 16th.

"I really love road racing," Dempsey acknowledged after his first test drive session on the Sebring circuit. "These (drivers) are really all of my idols, and I enjoy being around the track. Each one of the racers that I have been fortunate enough to spend time with have been incredibly generous with their time, energy and knowledge, and I think that says a lot about the American Le Mans Series in general."

Dempsey revealed that he is patterning the balance between acting and racing after the example set forth by Paul Newman, acclaimed actor and former competitor at the 12 Hours of Sebring. Dempsey, a Panoz Racing School graduate, has been racing in the Panoz GT Series since 2004.

"I got into racing through this organization (Panoz Motor Sports Group)," he said. "Danny and Don (Panoz) have just been wonderfully supportive, and their school has been a wonderful place to learn. Everybody is very open and accommodating, and I really appreciate it."

In April, Dempsey will finish production of the first season of Grey's Anatomy and soon afterward begin working on the Disney musical Enchanted with actress Susan Sarandon. Another project near to his heart is a movie about sports car racing that he is slated to do in the near future.

"The whole thing is based around the Panoz car and winning the 12-hour race, which I hope happens this weekend," Dempsey said. "So that's in the premise, but we need the proper amount of time to get everything in order and get the script as dramatically stimulating as possible so that people will want to go see it. So I hope this time next year we'll be sitting here with a crew and shooting the movie - that's certainly the goal. We've been very fortunate with the amount of attention that's happened in the last year with the success of the show (Grey's Anatomy). I'm grateful we can parlay that into being able to produce this movie, and we've had great support through the American Le Mans Series and the racers."

-alms

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Series ALMS , IMSA Others
Drivers Paul Newman , Patrick Dempsey