Patrick Dempsey with the 1991 Le Mans winning Mazda.
Patrick Dempsey with the 1991 Le Mans winning Mazda.

McDreamy wants Le Mans glory

GREY'S Anatomy star Patrick Dempsey has revealed he will quit the popular show if it gets in the way of his racing ambitions.

The 45-year-old runs his own race team in the American Grand Am series but is looking to expand to tackle the famous Le Mans 24-hour sports car race and possibly the World Endurance Championship.

Dempsey has been racing since 2007 but has admitted he wants to spend more time behind the wheel instead of in front of the camera. Speaking at a press conference ahead of this month's Daytona 24-hour race Dempsey revealed racing would take priority in his negotiations with the Grey's Anatomy producers.

"The biggest point for me in negotiations is to get time off to go racing," Dempsey said. "So if I don't miss races I'll probably stay on Grey's Anatomy."

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Despite showing promise on the track, including finishing third in class in last year's Daytona 24-hour, Dempsey has raced only sporadically because of his acting commitments. He has also attracted backing from Japanese car maker Mazda, racing its RX-8 model in Grand Am.

But he is looking to take his racing more seriously and step up to the faster Le Mans Prototype category to compete at Le Mans and the World Endurance Championship; the sports car equivalent of the formula one series.

Because his acting insurance policy doesn't allow him to race an open-top car he is likely to race a Lola coupe in the second-tier LMP2 category.

Dempsey told US website that he and his team are likely to do selected races this year before a fulltime campaign in the faster cars in 2013.

"We'll have a presence in LMP2 at some point this year," Dempsey said. "Certainly, we want to do it correctly. We have a lot of different directions we could go in and we're trying to figure out which one is the best one for the long term. We're really looking towards 2013 as well, so we need to make sure that we have a strong car."

He previously raced at Le Mans in 2009 driving a Ferrari in the GT category; finishing ninth the class. He also attended last year's race as part of Mazda's 20th anniversary celebrations for winning the event in 1991. He drove the '91 race winning car around the famous French circuit as a demonstration for fans.

Dempsey won't be the first celebrity to be sucked in by the lure of Le Mans. Fellow actor Paul Newman finished second outright in the 1979 running of the race driving a Porsche.

Steve McQueen never raced at Le Mans but was runner-up at the Sebring 12-hour race, also driving a Porsche, before making the movie Le Mans in 1971.

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