DEMPSEY TAKES A FAST BREATHER
Breaking from filming of ensemble-comedy “Valentines Day” and sneaking into Montreal under the cover of darkness Friday night, Patrick Dempsey was thrilled to have finally returned to the racetrack “for a little fix.”
“I just had to come; couldn’t stand to be away from it any longer,” Dempsey, owner of the No. 40 Mazda RX-8 Rolex Series GT race car, said just before the Montreal race Saturday as he sat atop the team’s pitside war wagon.
“I’ve really missed not getting into the seat and I can only imagine what my driving is like now,” he said with a slight frown.
With the meat of the Rolex Series schedule not favorably cooperating with Dempsey’s filming schedule, Dempsey Racing-regular Joe Foster and Dempsey stand-in Charles Espenlaub (they really don’t look anything alike, save the dark hair) grabbed the Montreal 200 race lead at one point Saturday before a rain shower rendered the treadless Pirelli race tires grip-free at the wrong time. Espenlaub briefly spun from the course and while no physical damage was done, it was enough to relegate the team to a fourth-place finish.
Though Dempsey hasn’t raced as much as desired, he nonetheless stole enough time from his schedule to recently make a run up the California coast and climb into a historic, Lee Dykstra-penned 1992 Mazda RX-792P at the Aug 14-16 2009 Monterey Historic Automobile Races (aka, Monterey Historics).
Bearing an especially unusual, cutting-edge (especially for its day) four-rotor engine, the 792P’s 2.6-liter Wankel was made primarily of titanium and ceramic and easily put out roughly 700 to 750 horsepower, according to Rolex Sports Car Series official Mark Raffauf.
Raffauf, who at the time of the Mazda prototype’s introduction was president of the International Motor Sports Association, recalled Mazda flying the car from Japan to Daytona International Speedway for a 24-hour test.
“It was an evolution of the Mazda 787 that won the year before at Le Mans but it was loud; real loud. According to telephone calls fielded by the Speedway (at the time) the car made such a tremendous noise that it was heard more than six miles away,” he said. “It was a real engineering feat, though. One of the coolest cars ever built.”
Dempsey had similar thoughts of the car, in which Mazda helped him get the ride at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca.
“I had a blast driving it,” he said with a wide grin. “It was the fastest I’ve ever driven. Purely a phenomenal experience.”
Dempsey says if all goes as planned, he’ll be back in the seat of his No. 40 Mazda at the Sept. 18-19 Rolex Series race at Miller Motorsports Park in Tooele, Utah.
Current Mood: bouncy