Local Sports

Dr. McDreamy looks for expanded role

Steve McQueen. Paul Newman, Bobby Carradine, Craig T. Nelson, James Brolin, Gene Hackman.

Add Patrick Dempsey to that list of celebrities/actors who have become motorsports stars, too, with a current unofficial ranking of third best.

As a current chapter of his career is seemingly about to close - reportedly, this is final season of the ABC TV hit show Grey's Anatomy - Dempsey is well prepared to expand his motorsports role and open a new chapter as a director.

"My acting career gets in the way of my racing," he says with a laugh. "I would love to race more, but it's a matter of time - and money."

Dempsey owns his race team - Dempsey Racing - that will have two GT Daytona class cars in Saturday's Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring Fueled by Fresh From Florida.

He will co-drive the No. 27 Porsche GT America with Joe Foster, Andrew Davis and Norbert Siedler, and will also field the No. 28 Porsche GT America to be driven by Christian Engelhart, Rolf Inelchen and Franz Konrad in the 12-hour IMSA Tudor United SportsCar Championship race at Sebring International Raceway.

Racing is his passion - ranking only behind his family, but acting pays the bills and helps make racing possible, and it's something he truly enjoys too.

Grey's Anatomy films from July through April, making Dempsey find ways to fit racing in his incredibly busy schedule.

On the show, he plays the sexy popular "Dr. McDreamy", aka neurosurgeon Dr. Derek Shepherd. He is one of TV's most popular stars, a well-deserved ranking due to his talent and fan appeal. This is supposed to be the show's final season (again).

He is prohibited by contract from talking about the show's possible ending, so he prefers to talk about racing and other future film/TV work.

"A race car driver never gets enough seat time to be happy," he says, "because you think you can always go faster or give the engineers feedback to make the car better. The more laps, the more feedback you can give, and the more comfortable you are in the race car."

As a race team owner, Dempsey has been very successful in finding sponsors and marketing/technical partners like Motegi Racing wheels. But no team owner ever has enough sponsorship money to be completely happy as racing is a very expensive business to run.

As much as he enjoys role-playing, Dempsey would love to be a full-time racer. "I would like to make motorsports a complete priority and just focus on this full-time," he says. "If I could just walk away from acting, I think I could do that very easily, and just focus on the driving; I would love that more than anything else."

Dempsey's career best finish in sports car racing has been a second place in ALMS GTC class at Long Beach. He also has finished third in class in the Rolex 24 At Daytona in 2011, when he led 28 laps.

He just missed the podium with a fourth place finish in GTE-Am with Joe Foster and Patrick Long at the 24 hours of Le Mans last year. He teamed with Andy Lally to win his class in the Mint 400 off-road race in 2013 as well.

Racing has his attention, but because he also enjoys aspects of show business, Dempsey is planning on doing some director-type work in the future.

Among Dempsey's memorable movie roles have been in The Mood with Beverly D'Angelo, Can't Buy Me Love, Sweet Home Alabama with Reese Witherspoon, the highly acclaimed HBO production of Iron Jawed Angels, Enchanted with Amy Adams, Made of Honor and Transformers: Dark of the Moon.

Dr. McDreamy will be one of the most popular drivers during the 45-minute Autograph Session starting at 11:15 a.m. today in the Paddock (be sure to line up early!)

And if he scores a GT Daytona class victory Saturday, well, somebody tell security to be prepared for an overwhelming crowd of young girls trying to crash the podium party.