Actor Patrick Dempsey to drive Pace Car Actor Patrick Dempsey will drive the 2007 Chevrolet Corvette Convertible Pace Car at the 91st Indianapolis 500 on Sunday, May 27.
Dempsey will bring the field of 33 starters to the green flag at the start of "The Greatest Spectacle in Racing," the world's largest single-day spectator sporting event. The race is scheduled to start at 1 p.m. (ET) and will be televised by ABC and broadcast by the IMS Radio Network, XM Satellite Radio and the Armed Forces Radio Network.
Dempsey, a native of Lewiston, Maine, has played Dr. Derek Shepherd on "Grey's Anatomy" since 2005. The show is one of the highest-rated programs on American television.
"We're excited to welcome Patrick Dempsey as the Pace Car driver for the 91st Indianapolis 500," said Joie Chitwood, Indianapolis Motor Speedway president and chief operating officer. "His acting performances throughout his career have captivated millions of fans, and he has become one of the biggest stars in television through his role on 'Grey's Anatomy.'
"During recent years he has developed a strong bond with racing and the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, so he truly understands and appreciates the pageantry, prestige and tradition of the Month of May and the Indianapolis 500."
Dempsey is a co-owner of IndyCar Series and Indianapolis 500 team Vision Racing. He also drives in selected sports car races for Hyper Sport Racing and off-road events. Dempsey finished a career-best fifth April 15 in the Koni Challenge Series event at Homestead-Miami Speedway, and his Hyper Sport team is second in the Koni Challenge driver and team standings.
"Most people recognize Patrick Dempsey from his on-screen endeavors," said Ed Peper, Chevrolet general manager. "But among the racing community, where Chevy plays a role globally, he is known as a dedicated car and racing enthusiast. Being accustomed to high-performance cars and racetracks, he's a great candidate to drive the Pace Car, and he'll no doubt appreciate the Corvette's power and handling abilities."
The 2007 Corvette that will serve as the Indianapolis 500 Pace Car is virtually identical to the convertible models available today through local Chevrolet dealerships. Because the production Corvette is so track-ready with 400 horsepower, an 186 mph top speed, a 0-60 mph time of 4.1 seconds, class-leading aerodynamics, a suspension that can handle .98 Gs in cornering situations and large 18-inch front and 19-inch rear wheels, few changes were made to prepare it for this year's role other than the necessary safety additions (strobe lights, etc.) and a spoiler from the Z06 Corvette.
The Chevrolet Corvette Convertible Pace Car appears in "Atomic Orange" with distinctive gold ribbon graphics and Indy 500 logos; 500 production replicas will be offered for sale to the public with an MSRP starting at $66,995.