Patrick Dempsey, the suave race-car driver who also happened to play a fictional doctor on TV for a long time and has occasionally starred in movies throughout his life, announced yesterday that he would take a break from professional racing to focus on his family and acting.
Dempsey, whose role as Derek Shepherd, aka McDreamy, on the highly successful TV showGrey's Anatomy ended last year, also recently went through a divorce with his wife of 16 years, Jillian Frank. The couple has since resolved their issues, but Dempsey is taking a step back from his deep racing involvement to focus on his relationship and career.
The timing is unfortunate for Dempsey, who began racing in 2004 after his wife told him to stop sitting on the couch while watching racing and got him a three-day Skip Barber racing school course. Soon after he was driving a Mazda RX8 in the GT class at the Rolex 24. Dempsey didn't see his first win, though, until last year in GTE-AM at the Fuji round of the 2015 FIA World Endurance Championship. He also placed second in the GTE-AM class last year in the 24 Hours of Le Mans.
According to Motorsport, during his career, Dempsey competed in a total of 68 races in Grand-Am, ALMS, and the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar championship. Overall, he nabbed nine podiums and drove Aston Martins, Porsches, Ferraris, and Mazdas throughout his time in sports cars.
For those devastated by Dempsey's departure from racing and Grey's, a silver lining: According to IMDB, he will star in the newest Bridget Jones movie, Bridget Jones's Baby, which is currently in post-production. We know—we can't wait, either.
Here's Dempsey's full statement:
My motorsports journey has been a rewarding one and allowed me to meet so many interesting people.
While the focus so often is the performance of the car, in reality it is all the various personalities, from team mates to competitors to officials to fans that I remember the most. I have loved being part of part of different teams and sharing the experience with so many great friends. I want to thank everyone who made this possible and helped me along the way. I also wanted to especially thank the fans for their support and friendship. None of this would happen without you buying the tickets and attending the races, so I am grateful for that investment in my passion. It makes me especially happy to see how many people have become race fans during my racing career.
At this point in my life, after an amazing season thanks to my friends at Porsche and TAG Heuer, I need to take a step back and focus on both my family and my acting career.
Dempsey-Proton Racing will continue on racing a Porsche 911 RSR in the World Endurance Championship season. I hope my schedule permits me to enjoy some race weekends at least as a team owner.
I need to especially thank Porsche for their unbelievable support for me and my family as I made the tough decision to take a step back. I will never forget it. Life has taught me that it is impossible to predict the future.
I am excited to see what kind of journey I can make and enjoy. R&T