Dempsey Racing VISIT FLORIDA Mazda RX-8 GT Teams Ready for "Home Game" At Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca
MONTEREY, Calif. (September 6 , 2012) – Dempsey Racing, its pair of VISIT FLORIDA Mazda RX-8 GTs, and team drivers Patrick Dempsey, Joe Foster, Charles Espenlaub and Charlie Putman, are ready to roll in a race they consider a “Home Game” this weekend at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca in the Continental Tire Sports Car Festival, September 7 – 9.
The Continental Tire Sports Car Festival’s featured 2-3/4 hour sprint is Round 12 of 13 races on this year’s calendar and can be seen live on SPEED this Sunday, September 9, at 3 p.m. EDT/12 p.m. PDT.
Mazda’s signature track, GRAND-AM Road Racing’s annual stop at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca is always more than just a race for Dempsey Racing, a Mazda partner team since debuting in the Rolex Sports Car Series at the end of the 2007 season. Team owner and lead driver Patrick Dempsey shares the No. 40 VISIT FLORIDA Mazda RX-8 GT with co-driver and motorsports business partner Joe Foster while Charles Espenlaub and Charlie Putman partner in the No. 41 FishingCapital.com/Bass 2 Billfish Mazda RX-8 GT.
“Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca is one of the best tracks we go to and it is obviously so important to us and to Mazda,” Dempsey said. “We absolutely love the town, Monterey is fantastic, and this is certainly a home track for me here in California. It is nice to race on the West coast for a change.”
One race ago in last month’s Montreal 200, Dempsey Racing placed both of its Mazdas in the top-10 for the first time in more than a year. Both Dempsey Racing Mazdas actually placed in the top eight in the Montreal event, the first time since the July, 2011 race at New Jersey Motorsports Park that both team entries recorded single-digit finishes in a race.
“Everyone at Dempsey Racing is always working as hard as they can and our double top-10 at Montreal is a result of that hard work,” Espenlaub said. “Of course, the hard work continues and the results should show that at one of our favorite tracks, Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca. It is such a unique track, and obviously the Corkscrew is very famous, but the whole track is quite challenging and very fun.”
The off-track highlights in the famous Monterey Peninsula also make this weekend’s race one of the most popular on the GRAND-AM Rolex Sports Car Series tour.
“Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca is always a favorite with the crews,” Putman said. “If wives of the crew are going to attend one race a year, Mazda Raceway is the one. I don’t know if it is the lure of the beautiful coastline, the wine tasting or the wharf that attracts them, but I’m betting they didn’t come just to watch their husbands work on the Dempsey Mazdas.”
Espenlaub and Putman co-drove the No. 41 to a fifth-place finish last month in the NASCAR “Short Course” race at The Glen, Dempsey Racing’s best result of the year. The No. 41 teammates also finished sixth in Montreal.
“Of course, we will be ready to try for a ‘best-of-the-year’ finish, but the long uphill sections will not favor our restricted Mazdas,” Putman said. “Nipping at the edges of the podium has given us a real desire to get there, and if the cards fall the right way it could happen. I always say that when the drivers and crew do everything superbly, they are working to earn a top-five finish. To finish better than that, the racing gods have to show you favor. We will do our best to avoid the trouble, which there normally seems to be a lot of at this track, and if the cards fall right maybe the racing gods will give us that last bit.”
The No. 40 Mazda RX-8 GT Dempsey and Foster will drive is the same back-up car the team ironically had to use in last year’s Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca event. In both cases, the team’s primary No. 40 was damaged in accidents prior to the annual Monterey race. The No. 40 car being used this weekend is Jack Smith’s “Yellow Dragon” Mazda RX-8 GT that, in addition being driven by Dempsey and Foster last year in Monterey, was taken to a season-best finish of eighth at Montreal by Scott Maxwell and Tom Long.
A full three-day event weekend, official practice for the Continental Tire Sports Car Festival begins Friday. Final practice and qualifying will be held Saturday morning while race-day Sunday begins with a 20-minute final practice at 8:40 a.m. local time. That afternoon’s featured Continental Tire Sports Car Festival race begins at 12 p.m. PDT.
- A native Floridian, Espenlaub prepared for this weekend’s race with a little rest and relaxation on the water. “With the hard work by the Dempsey boys on the 41, and my being able to take advantage of the incredible fishing while home in Florida, my batteries are charged,” Espenlaub said. “Charlie and I will be looking for the podium in a very spirited way.”
- Putman points to Mazda Raceway’s famous Corkscrew as a track highlight but not necessarily the most challenging part of the course. “The Corkscrew is the famous identity turn on the track, but the next two turns that follow it are the ones that get your attention as a driver,” Putman said. “There is a lot of speed to be had there, but it takes finesse to get it and remain on the track!”
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.
Photo: Teresa Andreani