iRacing with Peter Dempsey

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Peter Dempsey says the cost is $6 million to race an IndyCar for a whole season.

The 2013 Freedom 100 winner Peter Dempsey uses the iRacing simulator. Yep, you heard it here folks.

Believe it or not, race car drivers are people just like you and me…except sometimes they are running around the most historic race track in America, and making four-wide passes for the win.

I decided to run a little race on my iRacing simulator recently. It was a practice session at Phillip Island driving the McLaren MP4-12c. I never thought I would catch the Indy Lights driver in a place like that.

Anyways, being the hard working journalist I am, I pulled my car over and figured it was an appropriate time to have a chat with the Belardi Auto Racing driver.

Peter Dempsey, Belardi Auto Racing takes the win
Peter Dempsey, Belardi Auto Racing takes the win

Photo by: Michael C. Johnson

Obviously, instead of asking the guy what he has planned next year, I kicked off asking why he uses the iRacing simulator, and his response actually surprised me.

“It keeps me close to some friends and family back home,” said the Irish driver. “Obviously it’s very good for the racing thing, it's been more for enjoyment. I have been looking to compete in the Race of Champions the last two years.”

When asked what his favorite car/track combination is, Dempsey said that the track at Bathurst in Australia is his new favorite.

“I think with Bathurst coming out yesterday it’s quite exciting for iRacing. The most fun I had was driving the Pro Mazda car around Bathurst last night,” he said.

“The tracks in iRacing are very very close to the most realistic you are going to get. You can get away with a bit more on iRacing. It’s the closest you are going to get to driving a real race car.”

Peter Dempsey, Belardi Auto Racing
Peter Dempsey, Belardi Auto Racing

Photo by: Rebecca McKay

The highlight of the young talent this year was the Freedom 100 at Indianapolis. Coming out of turn 4, the trio of Gabby Chaves, Sage Karam and Carlos Munoz were spread out three wide heading to the line. Dempsey shot to the outside lane and took the win in an impossible four wide finish.

“The freedom 100 was the best moment of my season. It was a crazy finish, four wide, first time it happened at the speedway,” said Dempsey.

“I thought they were going to crash. They are three very fast drivers. They made such a huge hole in the air. I threw it in there thinking we could get a podium out of it. Fortunately the frontstretch is so long we nipped them at the line.”

Dempsey admitted that he has no firm plans for 2014, but said the goal it to get into an IndyCar next season, and has even spoken with some teams about some opportunities.

“The aim for next year is to get up to IndyCar next year, and we have a couple options on the table,” said Dempsey.

Peter Dempsey, Belardi Auto Racing
Peter Dempsey, Belardi Auto Racing

Photo by: Covy Moore

Dempsey said that while it may be tough to come up with the funds a team expect you to bring to secure the ride, he will be keeping an eye out for sports car racing opportunities as well.

“I will make sure to look at the sports car options for next year. The (TUDOR United SportsCar Championship) will open up some doors,” he said.

With large fields and an abundance of different cars to compete with, Dempsey said he would prefer to drive a prototype, but would not turn away any opportunity.

“I am open to driving anything. Ideally, I would like to be in a prototype, I think it would suite my driving style coming over from the open wheels stuff. I would be open to any GT possibilities out there,” said Dempsey.

Unfortunately, with sponsorship dollars scarce and very few available IndyCar rides, most teams expect the driver to come up with the funding to race, something that Dempsey estimates to be in the millions of dollars.

Peter Dempsey, Belardi Auto Racing celebrates the win
Peter Dempsey, Belardi Auto Racing celebrates the win

Photo by: Jay Alley

“A full season of IndyCar basically costs 6 million dollars,” said Dempsey. “If you are able to raise $100,000 or $200,000, you can go sports car racing, go in and do a good job and then the manufacturers have some incentive to keep you in their car. With 200,000 you can go for a 4-day IndyCar test, but even if you do good there the team still want sponsorship from you. It makes it tough for everyone.”

By the end of my questions I started to feel bad. The guy just wanted to head onto iRacing to link up with some friends and relax. Instead he got the post-race scrum treatment.

Either way, if he keeps up the pace he runs in iRacing on the real track, he will have plenty of opportunities slide his way.

Covy’s optimal time: 1:32.952 Peter’s best time: 1:29.336

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About this article
Series INDYLIGHTS
Article type Interviews
Tags belardi, dempsey, freedom, indianapolis, indy 500, iracing, karma, peter