VISIT FLORIDA/Dempsey Racing Mazda RX-8 GTs Finish Eighth and 13th in Hard-Fought Barber Motorsports Park Race
BIRMINGHAM, Alabama (March 31, 2012) – Dempsey Racing, its pair of VISIT FLORIDA Mazda RX-8 GTs, and team drivers Patrick Dempsey, Joe Foster, Charles Espenlaub and Charlie Putman, battled a slippery track, near-record temperatures and the always tough competition in the GRAND-AM Rolex Sports Car Series GT class for a pair of hard-earned finishes Saturday at Barber Motorsports Park.
Espenlaub battled in the lead pack and led seven laps in the opening part of the race before an eventual eighth-place finish with Putman in the No. 41 FishingCapital.com/Bass 2 Billfish/Dempsey Racing Mazda RX-8 GT as Dempsey and Foster overcame more than one setback for a13th place finish in the No. 40 VISIT FLORIDA/Dempsey Racing Mazda RX-8 GT.
“The Dempsey guys did a great job with the No. 41 car and it worked well at the beginning,” Espenlaub said. “I was able to kind of keep with the front five there and just waited for them to go through their tires. We had a really good, long-run tire deal and that took us to the front. We ran our race, sometimes you get it and sometimes you don’t, and we just kind of missed it by a little bit.”
Dempsey cracked the top-10 in the race’s opening laps after starting 13th in the No. 40, only to be hit by another competitor.
“I had a good start, my last few times at Barber the starts were challenging, but this time I did much better, on the restarts too,” Dempsey said. “I had a good consistent run, I did get turned by one of the GM cars at one point, and that put us back, but other than that it was a very solid stint.”
Foster took over from Dempsey for the run to the finish and ran on pace with the leaders despite being a lap down after the contact incident.
“There were a lot of good things that happened this week, the No. 41 car ran fantastic and Charles practiced, qualified and raced for a time as the top Mazda,” Foster said. “Patrick did a fantastic stint in the No. 40 as well, moved up a few spots at the start, but he later got turned by one of the Camaros, that put us a lap down, but there was nothing we could do about that. We did the best that we could and onward and upward.”
Espenlaub drove for both the opening and final segments of the race in the No. 41 while Putman made his first GT sprint-race start in the middle of his teammate’s stints.
“We kind of changed the strategy up a little bit where I started, we put Charlie in the middle, and I got back in at the end,” Espenlaub said. “That kind of put him in with the pound dogs, so to speak, some of the tougher other guys there, and it’s good for him. He needs to start getting used to that because he has got to run with these guys, and he did a good job. He got muscled around a little bit at the start and toward the end he was doing a really good job.”
Dempsey was encouraged after a tough but well executed race weekend.
“We all want better results, but I think the results really don’t show the effort that the team put in, and actually how well the race went on the things that we had control over,” Dempsey said. “That actually went very well. So, we are looking forward to Homestead and I will see everybody there.”
Next up for Dempsey Racing and the GRAND-AM Rolex Sports Car Series is the Grand Prix of Miami at Homestead-Miami Speedway, April 27 – 29. The race can be seen live on SPEED, Sunday, April 29, at 1 p.m. EDT/10 a.m. PDT.
- Foster and Scott Maxwell won last year’s GRAND-AM Continental Tire Sports Car Challenge race at Barber and nearly pulled off the repeat Saturday. Foster stepped right out of the No. 40 Mazda after the Rolex Series race and into the No. 55 Multimatic Motorsports Aston Martin Vantage that he put on the outside front row in Friday qualifying. Foster led in his opening stint and handed off to Maxwell who drove the car to the finish and a close second place. “It’s still a car in development but obviously we are getting there,” Foster said. “The car was definitely quicker this time than it was at Daytona and it’s a great result here.” Dempsey drove the team’s sister No. 71 Aston Martin but raced several laps down after he got caught up in a multi-car incident at the race start.
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.