Tony DiZinno examines Dempsey’s future
It’s been a whirlwind 12 months for Patrick Dempsey, whose racing program has evolved along with the changing sports car landscape in North America. Along with Dempsey Racing team co-principal and co-driver Joe Foster, Dempsey took on a four-car, two-series effort in 2012. True to form, things are changing for the team again this year.
The 2012 season featured the team’s two-car entry in the American Le Mans Series presented by Tequila Patrón, split between a PC class ORECA FLM09 and a P2 Lola-Judd coupe, the latter of which Dempsey drove in five races and scored two podium finishes. The Hollywood star also continued a two-car Mazda RX-8 campaign in the GRAND-AM Rolex Series’ GT class.
Come 2013, Dempsey and longtime manufacturer partner Mazda have gone their separate ways, but the ambitions and goals of competing haven’t changed.
Last week, Dempsey confirmed a new partnership with soccer star Alessandro Del Piero to form Dempsey/Del Piero Racing, which we now know will run two GTC class Porsches in the ALMS, and a partnership with Proton Competition in Europe to field a 2012-spec Porsche 911 in the GTE AM class at the 24 Hours of Le Mans. This marks Dempsey’s first Le Mans entry under his own team, having partnered with AF Corse for his prior appearance in 2009.
As the only team principal with dual full-season programs in 2012, Dempsey is well-versed to view the landscape of both series and how he sees Dempsey Racing moving ahead for 2013 and beyond.
“We know going in (to 2012) we wanted to be ready for Le Mans in 2013, so we had to come over here (in the ALMS) to understand what it would take to run a proper program,” Dempsey said at last year’s Petit Le Mans. “It was a great transition to be the only team to do both a full season of GRAND-AM and also run in ALMS. We learned a lot about costs, logistics, and building an infrastructure of team and people.”
Dempsey thanked Foster for his efforts to keep the team on track on its budget for the 2012 season.
“You need a war chest to prevent [going over budget] from happening,” Dempsey said. “We’re very clear on what our budget was, and we stayed on track to that all year. Joe did a great job with that.”
As much as a driver and team owner, Dempsey has worked tirelessly as an ambassador for sports car racing.
“Whether it’s a press junket or whatever, I always try to include building the race series up and promote it,” he said. “I think it’s a phenomenal sport. It needs a voice. I try to use mine as much as possible to help everyone in this sport; not just my team, but all the other teams along the way to help promote awareness.”
Dempsey’s 2013 campaign will certainly be one to watch, in this latest development for the Los Angeles and Atlanta-based operation.
Tony DiZinno is a motorsports journalist who has worked with RACER, Michelin Alley, Motorsport.com and other publications. He is a recent graduate of Marquette University and a regular contributor to ALMS.com. His blog will appear every other Tuesday. Follow him on Twitter – @tonydizinno.