Dempsey Racing Ready For Barber Motorsports Park with VISIT FLORIDA Mazdas
BIRMINGHAM, Alabama (March 29, 2012) – Dempsey Racing is fielding a two-car Mazda RX-8 GT effort at Barber Motorsports Park for the third-straight year this weekend and moved off to a solid start in Thursday’s opening practice session where Charles Espenlaub clocked in with the fastest Mazda time in the competitive GT field. The Porsche 250, the first GRAND-AM Rolex Sports Car Series sprint race of the season, is scheduled to start at 12:15 p.m. local time this Saturday, March 31, and can been seen in same-day “virtual live” coverage on SPEED at 4 p.m. EDT/1 p.m. PDT.
Espenlaub was at the wheel of the No. 41 FishingCapital.com/Bass 2 Billfish/Dempsey Racing Mazda RX-8 GT he will co-drive all season with Charlie Putman. Team owner and driver Patrick Dempsey has already arrived in Birmingham for this weekend’s race and co-drives the No. 40 VISIT FLORIDA/Dempsey Racing Mazda RX-8 GT with his teammate and motorsports business partner Joe Foster.
Espenlaub’s top lap time of 1:31.740 (90.255 mph) edged the five other Mazda RX-8 GTs competing this weekend and ranked a solid sixth overall in the competitive GT class. The No. 40’s top lap time was 1:32.976 (89.055 mph).
“Obviously everybody at Dempsey Racing is doing a really good job,” Espenlaub said. “Just getting the car back together after the 24 hour at Daytona, where we had a lot of what we will say ‘events,’ is an accomplishment and they did a good job with that. We tested and we are constantly improving the beast, so to speak. This track is particularly hard as you go through the data, to try to tune the car for it, but we have been working at it hard and they did a great job.”
The No. 41 was heavily damaged in a Saturday night incident in January’s season-opening Rolex 24 at Daytona but arrived at Barber fully prepared and ready to go on a track that is the complete opposite of Daytona International Speedway.
“Daytona is a very different event and race, in addition to being our season opener, so Barber will be the first opportunity for me and Charles to settle into a ‘normal’ race in the beautiful No. 41 FishingCapital.com/Bass 2 Billfish Mazda,” Putman said. “Barber is a very technical track which should help favor our Mazdas, and our engineers have the cars showing the great handling capabilities for which Mazdas are known.”
Foster, Dempsey, Espenlaub, Putman and Tom Long co-drove the No. 40 Mazda to its third consecutive top-10 finish in the Rolex 24 opener. This year’s 10th place Rolex 24 finish followed last year’s career-best third-place showing and a sixth-place result in 2010 for the No. 40 squad.
“We saw at Barber last year that the Mazda will most likely be slightly better than Daytona, which means we should be in the upper middle pack,” Foster said. “There was a tire test here last October and we were the third quickest make which is about what we would expect here given the current state of the rules. Our goal this weekend is to be the best Mazda we can be and make sure we do a good job for VISIT FLORIDA.”
A challenge for both Dempsey Racing Mazda RX-8 GT teams will be the always tight 2.3-mile Barber circuit.
“The track is very difficult to pass traffic on, and is a very busy track in total,” Putman said. “There is never a quiet moment or section on the Barber circuit, so it is quite physically and mentally demanding to drive. We are still developing what you might call our team routines and will continue to improve throughout the year, but the Dempsey Racing team is a great bunch, and we have a team-family atmosphere in the paddock and pits with lots of positive energy. The cooperation and friendship among all of the Dempsey drivers is probably unmatched, and that makes it especially easy for us to settle in and get to work.”
This weekend’s Porsche 250 will be the earliest in a year the race has been run. The March date follows April runnings the last two years and a string of grueling races for several years in the July heat prior to that.
“Earlier in the year is fine although the forecast is still quite warm and with potentially some rain,” Foster said. “We are ready for whatever happens. The cars and the team are very ready to get back racing and into the routine of the season. We are looking forward to it.”
Final practice and qualifying for the Porsche 250 is scheduled for Friday morning while race-day Saturday features only the Porsche 250 at 12:15 p.m. local time.
About Dempsey Racing
A fulltime and year-round enterprise, Dempsey Racing (www.dempseyracing.net) is a professional sports car auto racing team based in the greater Atlanta area in Flowery Branch, Georgia. Owned by actor/driver Patrick Dempsey, the team races in support of the Patrick Dempsey Center for Cancer Hope & Healing (www.dempseycenter.org) in Dempsey’s hometown of Lewiston, Maine, and the Team Seattle Guild (www.teamseattle.com) to benefit the Seattle Children’s Hospital Heart Center (www.seattlechildrens.org).
About Dempsey Racing’s Partners
Dempsey Racing (www.dempseyracing.net) is an official Mazda (www.mazdausa.com) racing team and has competed exclusively in Mazda RX-8 GTs since 2007. Additional team partners include VISIT FLORIDA (www.VISITFLORIDA.com), the official tourism marketing corporation for the State of Florida, and its ShareaLittleSunshine.org and FishingCapital.com promotional programs, and the television show Bass 2 Billfish with Peter Miller. Additional Dempsey Racing partners include Trina Solar (www.trinasolar.com), a leading manufacturer of high-quality solar photovoltaic (PV) modules that deliver reliable, environmentally-friendly power to homes and businesses and value to customers, and Specialized Bicycle Components (www.specialized.com), a manufacturer and worldwide supplier of technically advanced bicycles and related components. New partners for 2012 include GNC Beverages (www.drinkGNC.com), built upon the 75 years of nutrition innovation from the leader in sports nutrition, Motegi Racing (www.motegiracing.com), a leading manufacturer of competition and high-performance tuning wheels designed and engineered for performance, and Silicon Tech Racing (www.silicontechracing.com) which provides high-tech corporations a dedicated marketing platform through sports car road racing focused on technology executives.