Dempsey Racing scored a GT class podium at the Rolex 24 at Daytona, leaving the Florida Superspeedway with their best ever result at the race.
The two car team – run by actor Patrick Dempsey and Joe Foster – was led by the no.40 Mazda RX-8 where both Dempsey and Foster shared driving duties with Charles Espenlaub and Tom Long. All four had a chance to lead the race as the car led for much of the morning – Dempsey himself leading for 28 laps, a career high for the man who only arrived at Daytona the day of the race from the Sundance Film Festival.
In total the no.40 led 196 laps – a number bettered only by the no.67 TRG Porsche which won the class. However, a 1:23s lead was lost when Long spun and stalled the car at turn six.
“The morning was off to a really good start,” Long said. “I got in the car and about halfway through my stint I started getting some kind of dizziness. I don't know if it was from carbon monoxide poisoning or what, but unfortunately it resulted in a little bit of a spin. No harm, no foul, but we lost a lap and lost the lead on that.”
The car stopped briefly for repairs and continued to suffer electrical problems, Foster and Espenlaub taking the final stints of the race.
Despite the no.40 car's podium in the past it has been the no.41 which has taken the best results for the team – including a win a, so far, only victory at Watkins Glen in 2010. However, at Daytona the no.41 car – running under the Team Seattle banner – suffered contact with another car and mechanical problems limiting it to tenth place in class.
“It’s such a tough race, there are so many ups and downs throughout the race,” said James GuÃ© who shared the car with Dane Cameron, Ian James, Dave Lacey and Don Kitch Jr.. “We ran as high as second, and then we were sitting in the garage. I’m very happy to be in the top 10 at the end. Certainly, not a bad result but we were hoping for a bit more, but it was good to see one of the cars of the team make it to the podium. Not a terrible start to the year, certainly better than last year’s start here. I can’t complain, we will take the points and look to the future. We’ve got a better car, a better team. Last year it was our first year and you learn and pick up a lot of things. I think we should be a real contender this year and I am happy with where we are at.”
The team were raising money for the Seattle Children's Hospital, collecting over $250,000 at Daytona.