Dempsey In Character At The Rolex 24 At Daytona

Among the many actors who have gained fame on the large and small screens, there are three notable personalities whose talent, sex appeal and blue eyes have made them icons, especially when their rugged personas were embellished by their performance in motorsports: James Dean, Steve McQueen and Paul Newman.

Now another American actor, Patrick Dempsey, the Dr. McDreamy of television's Grey's Anatomy, is set to join that elite club. This weekend he is racing the Rolex 24 At Daytona in the #40 Dempsey Racing Mazda RX-8, and although popular for his acting career, he is a dedicated race car driver who is gaining fans for his work on the track.

Until now Newman has been the only film star to make motor racing a full-time endeavor in addition to his acting career. Asked if he too would like to make this sport a big part of his future Dempsey said: "I hope so, because I really love this sport. We kind of jumped into the deep end of the pool with the Rolex Series and the Koni Challenge. Mr. Newman did a lot of SCCA racing and worked his way up quietly. You have to be aware that everybody is watching your development and expecting things and you have to keep that in mind and not let it bother you. I really want to expand the team and let it be a championship-winning team and have enough time to do that."

Dempsey is taking his third run at the Rolex 24 At Daytona, and has raced Les 24 Heures du Mans as well. "I like the challenge of endurance racing and you get to be in the car a lot more," he said about the appeal of racing for 24 hours. "The two races are really quite different, other than they are both 24 hour events. They are both very challenging for everybody, but Le Mans is a week-long event and the Rolex 24 At Daytona is only three days; so that's a different type of thing. The cars are a bit different too but once you are in the car you see many of the [same] drivers over there as you see here. There are three classes at Le Mans and the overtaking is different, especially down the straight. The history there is also completely different so it's really unfair to compare the two because individually they are both remarkable races and to do them [both] is what every driver wants to do."

Regarding his acting career and how the tools of that trade aid his mental preparation for racing cars -- in terms of getting into character -- he said: "Oh yeah, I think a lot of the acting is how to stay private in a public situation, as well as staying focused and not worry about what people are doing outside of you. You have a lot of people watching your every move when you act and when you are shooting a scene there are a lot of people watching your scene, so I think that applies to helping you in the car in that way. Besides that I have been working with a coach to help me with the mental approach of being in the car and getting the mental tools to keep me focused and relaxed when things are not going my not let that throw me so I don't make too many big mistakes. I think that helped me get through a lot and I think I will continue to keep working that way."

Dempsey came in from his first stint in the car at the Rolex 24 At Daytona and was pleased with his driving. It had rained hard for his partner and co-driver Joe Foster who started the race, but the rain had let up by the time they changed drivers and Dempsey went out with dry weather tires and found it quite difficult until the tires heated up. "We wanted a really strong start today and I think we got it from Joe. Now we will cycle through the drivers and keep up the momentum up. We always do quite well once we get into it. Each time we race we build up our confidence and although we don't really expect to win, we do want to finish in the top ten."

About Rolex Motorsports - Rolex's presence in motorsports began in the 1930s with Malcolm Campbell. While wearing a Rolex Oyster in 1935, he was the first person to drive an automobile over 300 miles per hour, setting a new land speed record. Rolex truly solidified its position in the sport in 1959 when it began an association with the Daytona International Speedway in Florida and later became the title sponsor of its pre-eminent endurance race, the Rolex 24 At Daytona, in 1992. It was shortly after its initial affiliation with the race track that Rolex introduced a watch designed for lovers of speed, the Cosmograph Daytona, which allowed its wearer to clock elapsed times and calculate average speeds.

Rolex is involved in sponsorships of some of the most prestigious events in the motorsport industry. Endurance races such as the Rolex 24 At Daytona, The 24 Hours of Le Mans, the European Le Mans Series and the Rolex Sports Car Series have been a critical piece of the Rolex portfolio. In addition, Rolex has supported the bygone era of racing by celebrating design, speed, passion and endurance in sponsoring historic races such as the Goodwood Revival and the Rolex Monterey Motorsports Reunion, as well as concours events such as The Pebble Beach Concours d'Elegance, the Pebble Beach Tour D'Elegance presented by Rolex, and The Quail, a Motorsport Gathering.