Patrick Dempsey to debut Mazda RX-8 RACECAR in Utah
Frankie Muniz and Ian Ziering Among 100-plus Mazda Racers in Six Races
September 6, 2007 (IRVINE, Calif.) -- He won't be Dr. Derek Shepherd. He certainly won't be Dr. McDreamy. He won't even be actor Patrick Dempsey. No, on most weekends, it's racer Patrick Dempsey. On September 15, Dempsey will debut his brand-new #40 SoBe Beverage-sponsored Hyper Sport Mazda RX-8 in the GT class of the Grand-Am Rolex Sports Car Series presented by Crown Royal Special Reserve in the Sunchaser 1000 at Miller Motorsports Park in Tooele, Utah.
Co-driving in the RX-8 with Dempsey will be teammates Joe Foster and Charles Espenlaub, while he will drive solo in the 45-minute Mazda MX-5 Cup "sprint" race. Dempsey is a very busy man these days, balancing life as an actor, husband, dad, racer and Mazda voice-over talent for TV commercials. That's right: it really is Dr. McDreamy saying "Zoom-Zoom" in those Mazda ads.
The Sunchaser 1000 may be the featured race, but it's far from the only weekend highlight, as the festivities will include a total of eight races. Each race is unique, but six of the eight races share a common link: Mazda, including four races that are 100% Mazda.
The Sunchaser 1000 is the final race in the 13-race Grand-Am Rolex Sports Car Series presented by Crown Royal Special Reserve. The competition for high-performance, production-based sports car racing has been a battleground for seven different automakers in the GT class this year. The #70 SpeedSource Mazda RX-8 team of Sylvain Tremblay and Nick Ham has had a solid "rookie" season marked by three wins. Tremblay is currently fifth in drivers points, with Ham close behind in sixth. Emil Assentato, lead driver of the #69 SpeedSource-FXDD Mazda RX-8, is ninth in the overall championship and leading the points chase for the Bob Akin Award for sportsman drivers.
Reflecting upon the season, Tremblay remarked, "For our first full season, we are way beyond expectations with our three wins and we were a factor in almost every race this season. With each race, we understand more about what we need from the car, the team and the drivers, so 2008 will be about executing and getting the most out of our rotary-powered Mazda RX-8."
The companion series to the Grand-Am is the KONI Challenge Series. Mazda is among 10 brands competing in the Street Tuner (ST) class. Look for RX-8s from SpeedSource and Roar Racing along with MX-5s from BSI Racing.
The ideal first step for professional sports car racers is the SCCA Pro Racing SIRIUS Satellite Radio Mazda MX-5 Cup, which concludes its second season over the weekend. Jason Saini has clinched the championship, which will launch him to the 2008 SCCA SPEED World Challenge courtesy of the Mazda driver ladder program. Much of the local interest will be focused on three-time SCCA E-Production National Champion Pratt Cole. Cole, a lifelong Utah resident, is sixth in points and is searching for his first series win.
Making guest driving appearances in the MX-5 Cup races are three gentlemen the newspapers often list as actor-racers or racer-actors: the previously-mentioned Patrick Dempsey, along with Ian Ziering, and Frankie Muniz. In the case of Muniz, it's now simply racer, having stopped acting completely to pursue a racing career full-time. Muniz has spent the 2007 season racing in the Cooper Tires Champ Car Atlantic Championship Powered by Mazda.
The BFGoodrich Skip Barber National Presented by Mazda is the first rung of the Mazda ladder for open-wheel racers. The 14-race series features identical formula cars maintained by the highly-respected Skip Barber Racing School. The Utah weekend is a doubleheader for the series - races 11 and 12 for the season. The Skip Barber National champion will be rewarded with a drive in the 2008 Star Mazda Championship.
Finally, a Spec Miata club race hosted by the Utah Region SCCA will feature approximately 50 of the best club racers in the area. Spec Miata is the largest road-racing class in the world, with more than 1,500 similarly prepared first- and second-generation Miatas tearing up America's racetracks, making it the most-raced production car in the world.