Dempsey Racing Back to Montreal Ready to Build on Top-Five Finish at The Glen with VISIT FLORIDA Mazda RX-8 GT Teams
MONTREAL, Quebec, Canada (August 16, 2012) – Dempsey Racing and its pair of VISIT FLORIDA Mazda RX-8 GTs return to Circuit Gilles Villeneuve with a two-car effort for the third-consecutive year this weekend for the Montreal 200, August 16 – 18, riding the momentum of the team’s best finish of the season in last Saturday’s race at Watkins Glen International.
Round 11 of 13 races on the 2012 GRAND-AM Rolex Sports Car Series schedule, the Montreal 200 is a timed two-hour sprint that can be seen in same-day coverage on SPEED this Saturday, August 18, at 7 p.m. EDT/4 p.m. PDT.
Charles Espenlaub and Charlie Putman co-drove the No. 41 FishingCapital.com/Bass 2 Billfish Mazda RX-8 GT to a Dempsey Racing season-best fifth-place finish last Saturday night in the Continental Tire 200 at The Glen as teammate Joe Foster escaped uninjured after the sister No. 40 VISIT FLORIDA Mazda RX-8 GT was shoved off course and hard into a SAFER barrier less than 20 minutes into the race.
Espenlaub and Putman will be looking for more top-five results this weekend in the No. 41 while Tom Long and Canadian driver Scott Maxwell will be co-driving a replacement Mazda RX-8 GT that was pressed into service after the No. 40 was totaled in The Glen accident.
“Dempsey Racing has had some good runs in Montreal,” Espenlaub said. “We have almost hit the podium a couple of times, had a fastest race lap, finished fourth in 2009 and could have had third if we had just a little bit more time. It’s a good track for the Mazda, the Dempsey guys have been working really hard and we think we can get another top five and maybe even better this weekend.”
Foster and team owner and lead driver Patrick Dempsey will be competing in the American Le Mans Series race at Road America this weekend in Dempsey Racing’s No. 27 Trina Solar/GNC Beverages/Motegi Racing Judd-powered Lola B12-80 Coupe, but Long, Maxwell and a Mazda RX-8 GT known as the “Yellow Dragon” will all be worthy and familiar replacements on the No. 40 team.
“We have once again borrowed Jack Smith’s Yellow Dragon Motorsports RX-8 GT, which many GRAND-AM fans may remember as the blue and white No. 36 Mazda that ran most recently at this year’s Rolex 24 At Daytona,” said Dempsey Racing GT Team Manager Rob Baker. “We have got a bit of history with this car as we also ran it last year at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca after we had our big accident at Road America with Joe in the 40. We borrowed the same car then, we are doing the same thing again this year, and we are very, very grateful for the help from Jack and Phil Creighton for getting this car ready and available. I know I also speak for Patrick and Joe in extending our thanks as well to Mazda, VISIT FLORIDA and SpeedSource for all of their extra efforts in just getting us to this weekend’s race.”
Foster, Dempsey’s primary co-driver and motorsports business partner is looking forward to competing at Road America but will miss Dempsey Racing’s annual visit to Montreal.
"Montreal is actually one of our favorite tracks at Dempsey Racing,” Foster said. “It’s one of the best tracks we go to, and it is a great event because all of the Canadian fans know the sport so well. It is really neat to be part of an event where the fans are so literate of what we do in sports car racing. These last couple of events have been very character-building for Dempsey Racing and we would have not have made it to Montreal without the support of Mazda North America, Yellow Dragon Motorsports, VISIT FLORIDA and SpeedSource, who have all played a strong role in getting us here and ready to race."
Dempsey too is appreciative of the incredible support his team has received this week and all season.
"The team has done a phenomenal job recovering from contact and mechanical challenges at Indy and has now overcome losing the No. 40 chassis to further Daytona Prototype contact at The Glen,” Dempsey said. “I'm very proud of our guys and grateful for the support of our partners in helping us get to Montreal."
Long is entered in the No. 40 for the fourth consecutive race and seventh time in total this season. He also co-drove with Maxwell in May at New Jersey, partnered Foster at Miami in April and last week at The Glen, and was part of the No. 40’s driver lineup for the season-opening Rolex 24 At Daytona, the Six Hours of The Glen and the inaugural Brickyard Grand Prix at Indianapolis.
“Being able to drive the VISIT FLORIDA Mazdas about a half dozen times this year has been a really exciting experience, a lot more than I thought I would be driving going into the season for sure,” Long said. “Being at Montreal, and having an opportunity to drive again with Scott Maxwell, a Canadian, I am excited to be able to learn some things from him with all of his veteran’s experience here at this track. I also raced a Mazda RX-8 GT here last year, it’s quite a place, it is really special, and to be here with our VISIT FLORIDA car this weekend is going to be good.”
A long-time fast friend of the team, Maxwell is running with Dempsey Racing for the fourth time this season. Maxwell has also teamed with Foster for years in the GRAND-AM Continental Tire Sports Car Challenge and the duo captured the 2008 Grand Sport (GS) Championship in that series. The quick Canadian from Ontario also has class wins at the 24 Hours of Le Mans and in the inaugural Daytona Prototype race in a Multimatic at the 2003 Rolex 24. Maxwell joined Dempsey, Foster and Espenlaub in the No. 40 for a then career-best Rolex 24 finish of sixth in 2010 and was also part of the No. 41’s driver lineup at this year’s day-long Daytona opener. In addition to co-driving with Long in New Jersey, Maxwell’s most recent race with the team was in June at The Glen where co-drove the No. 41 with Espenlaub and Putman.
“The last couple of runs with Dempsey Racing, at New Jersey and at Indy with Charles and Charlie, have gone quite well,” Maxwell said. “I am looking forward to Montreal. I have been here a lot but I haven’t been here for a few years, Joe has been trying to get me back here for a few years now, and it worked out with the conflict in schedules. Unfortunately, the 40 team had a rough weekend at The Glen so we are heading into it with sort of an unknown, but we will make the best of it. The crew has done a great job to get the car ready in four days, it looks great, and we will see what happens.”
Espenlaub’s first-year GT co-driver Putman is the only Dempsey Racing driver making his Montreal debut this weekend.
“I have never been here before, have seen it only on a simulator before today, and only a limited amount on that,” Putman said. “All of the guys tell me what a great track it is, how much fun it is to drive, and what a great event it is overall. It is just a nice setting and I have already seen enough to know what great fans they have here.”
A three-day event, the Montreal 200 began today with Thursday afternoon practice while Friday’s schedule includes final practice that morning and qualifying in the afternoon. Saturday’s only GRAND-AM Rolex Series on-track activity is the actual Montreal 200 race that starts at 11:15 a.m. local time. Same-day coverage of the race can be seen on SPEED later in the day on Saturday, August 18, at 7 p.m. EDT/4 p.m. PDT.
- While Maxwell is making his first appearance at Circuit Gilles Villeneuve in several seasons, the popular Canada native has plenty of race-winning and podium experience on the Formula 1 track. “I have won a lot of races here with the Multimatic showroom stock program with Ford Mustangs, and for about six consecutive years in the ‘90s we were on the podium at nearly every race,” Maxwell said. “It’s been a good track for me so I am hoping the luck will carry over.”
- This is the second time in little over a year that Dempsey Racing has looked to Jack Smith for the “Yellow Dragon” as a replacement. Foster was knocked off course and the No. 40 made heavy contact with the Turn 1 tire barrier in the opening laps of last year’s race at Road America. The team had two weeks to prepare the replacement car for the following race at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca but this time around had less than 72 hours to secure, prep and transport the “Yellow Dragon” to Montreal.
“By the time we left Watkins Glen on Saturday night we had a rough plan in place to use the ‘Yellow Dragon’ car,” Baker said. “What it took to get it to Montreal was a tremendous amount of cooperation and organization from a lot of people. The car had been prepared following the Rolex 24 by Phil Creighton and his staff, they did an excellent job of getting the car ready, it looks to be in great shape, and we had our graphics guy back in Atlanta start cutting vinyl Sunday morning after I gave him the word Saturday night that we were going to do this.”
The “Yellow Dragon” was wrapped and ready to go by Tuesday and was transported to Virginia to meet up with one of the Dempsey Racing transporters and members of the No. 40 crew. The connection was made in Virginia at 3 a.m. Wednesday morning where the crashed primary car was swapped out with its weekend replacement on the No. 40 transporter. Along with some wheels, additional parts and support equipment, the No. 40 truck transporter drivers began the trip to Montreal later that morning, finally arriving in Montreal around 5 p.m. Wednesday evening. The No. 41 team in turn prepped the FishingCapital.com/Bass 2 Billfish car at Jim Seafuse’s race shop back in the Watkins Glen area before heading to Montreal.
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 in the GRAND-AM Rolex Sports Car Series since 2007. A primary partner for the Mazda program is VISIT FLORIDA (www.VISITFLORIDA.com), the official tourism marketing corporation for the State of Florida, and its www.ShareaLittleSunshine.org and www.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, Racing Electronics (www.racingelectronics.com), the number one source for professional race communications worldwide, 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.