This weekend, Patrick Dempsey will be in Baltimore for the Grand Prix of Baltimore presented by SRT weekend of the American Le Mans Series. He and Andy Lally will co-drive in the No. 27 Dempsey Del Piero Racing Porsche GT3 Cup GTC class entry for the seventh round of the 2013 ALMS season.
But if you’re looking for a Dempsey fix prior to his on-track experience this weekend, feel free to check out the premiere of “Patrick Dempsey: Racing Le Mans.” The four-part documentary chronicling the team’s first, and Dempsey’s second racing appearance at the legendary 24 Hours of Le Mans premieres this Wednesday evening at 10 p.m. ET/PT on the Velocity channel.
Dempsey co-drove with longtime business partner Joe Foster and Porsche’s only American factory driver, Patrick Long, in the No. 77 Dempsey Del Piero Proton Porsche 911 GT3 RSR at Le Mans. The team finished fourth in the GTE AM class after a valiant effort that saw several stints in the lead of the race. At one point, Long had to act as a bouncer in the pit lane to push photographers out of the way as Dempsey was getting ready for a stint of his (see below).
Dempsey’s first race at Le Mans, in 2009, came in a satellite AF Corse entry, a Team Advanced Engineering Ferrari F430 GT in the GT2 class co-driving with Foster and another driver who took ill during the race, which left just Dempsey and Foster able to drive the last half of the race. This DDPR effort in 2013 was a fully fledged effort that was the next step in Dempsey’s evolution as a team owner and driver.
“There was something about that moment and that challenge that we wanted to come back and see if we could go to the next step,” he said in a media teleconference ahead of the Le Mans weekend.
Although he’s better known worldwide for his acting, Dempsey is one of racing – particularly sports car racing’s – biggest ambassadors. He has taken the necessary steps to learn the game, hone his craft, and represent the sport on a worldwide level.
It should be a fascinating watch, beginning this evening.
The two-day Chris Griffis Memorial Mazda Road to Indy Test concluded on Sunday at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course.
Combined times after the two days of running are below, with Nico Jamin (Indy Lights Presented by Cooper Tires) and Oliver Askew (Pro Mazda Championship Presented by Cooper Tires) remaining on top from Saturday to Sunday, and Darren Keane (Cooper Tires USF2000 Championship Powered by Mazda) supplanting Andres Gutierrez at the head of that field.
Previous notebooks are linked here (Friday, Saturday), with additional Sunday notes to follow.
Several drivers pulled double duty between series, namely Parker Thompson (Exclusive Autosport in Pro Mazda and USF2000), Carlos Cunha (Juncos Racing in Indy Lights and Pro Mazda) and Aaron Telitz (Team Pelfrey in Pro Mazda, RJB Motorsports in USF2000). Telitz (above) added a run in Pro Mazda in Team Pelfrey’s No. 82 car; the Wisconsinite has done a lot of the series’ testing for the new Pro Mazda Tatuus PM-18, and had hoped to run all three series. We’ll have more meanwhile on Thompson and Exclusive’s double in the days to come; the Michael Duncalfe-led team out of Saskatoon, Saskatchewan was one of three new Pro Mazda teams adding those cars to USF2000 efforts (Pabst Racing, BN Racing) this week.
There were a handful of drivers that changed cars or teams for Sunday’s second day of the test, primarily in USF2000. While Keane ran both days at Newman Wachs, the Brian Halahan-managed team ran David Osborne and Oscar DeLuzuriaga in the Nos. 37 and 38 cars, taking over from Jake Craig and Max Peichel. Osborne switched from Team Pelfrey, where he ran Saturday, and where Jacob Loomis ran Sunday. Justin Gordon ran a second Exclusive Autosport chassis, switching to the No. 90 on Sunday after running the No. 92 Saturday.
The PM-18 best lap set by Askew is more than three seconds faster than the series’ official track record (Pato O’Ward in 2016, at 1:22.8800, 105.941 mph). Askew’s best time of 1:19.8142 averages 110.010 mph around the 2.439-mile circuit. Neither the Indy Lights nor USF2000 cars eclipsed the existing lap records in those categories.
Drivers largely extolled the PM-18’s outright pace and potential with the horsepower upgrade, in what is a significant step forward for the series. “Following prototype testing of the new PM-18, I believed that we had a special race car and this weekend’s testing confirms that,” said Dan Andersen, Owner and CEO of Andersen Promotions. “Based on team and driver comments, this is a fantastic race car and I am very pleased with what Tatuus, Elite Engines and my team have assembled. It fits perfectly in between the USF-17 and the IL-15 in terms of lap times and, more importantly, it takes what a driver learns in the first step and introduces higher HP, higher grip and higher aero. This will be a great training car for years to come, and seeing our program now with three excellent and well-designed cars is very satisfying to me.”
Keane, one of the few veterans (relatively speaking) within USF2000 was plugged in this weekend as the only driver outside Pabst Racing to threaten the top of the timesheets. “It’s a good boost in confidence for me heading into next year. I am really happy with how everything is going with the team. They are a great group of guys and it’s just really good to see us improving and being where we want to be,” he said.
Rinus Veekay hailed the Indy Lights Dallara IL-15 Mazda this weekend in his first test there, although the talented Dutch teenager may well focus on Pro Mazda next season and shoot to win that championship, and continue his battle with Askew established in USF2000. “The car is very nice, quick,” noted VeeKay. “You can really feel the downforce and it was a pleasure to drive.”
The MRTI is done with official running for the year, but the $200,000 MRTI Scholarship Shootout remains in December at Wild Horse Pass Motorsports Park, the former Firebird Raceway, outside Phoenix. The winner of that will get a ticket into USF2000 for the 2018 season.
Full MRTI spring training will take place at Homestead-Miami Speedway in February 2018, with undoubtedly a bevy of driver and team announcements to come over the following months.