Reliving the Dream: Dempsey Racing’s First Victory

Aug. 15, 2010
Nate Siebens, Contributing Writer

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. – When one of your team owners is a Hollywood superstar who is off shooting an action film, it only stands to reason that the team’s first victory would come in a dramatic, late-race pass.

Dempsey Racing earned its first Rolex Series GT class victory in the Crown Royal 200 at The Glen, with drivers James Gue (left) and Leh Keen.

That was how it went down in the Crown Royal 200 at The Glen for co-drivers James Gue and 2009 Rolex Series GT champion Leh Keen in the No. 41 Mazda RX-8 for Dempsey Racing/Team Seattle. Keen made the most of a restart with fewer than 15 minutes remaining and fought his way past the No. 70 Mazda RX-8 of Jonathan Bomarito to take the lead.

From there, Keen quickly sped away to score the first Rolex Series GT class victory for Dempsey Racing and Gue. Keen described the scene as “pretty intense” as he chased down Bomarito, while his mirrors were being filled by Jeff Segal in the No. 69 Mazda RX-8 and John Edwards in the No. 68 Mazda RX-8.

“Really, the last 10 or 15 minutes of the race, it’s always a total dogfight,” said Keen. “Everybody is 110 percent, borderline about to crash. It’s an exciting time of the race and then to be able to make a pass for the lead, it’s definitely very exciting.”

It was an exciting finish befitting of the team co-owned by Patrick Dempsey and Joe Foster. And while Dempsey wasn’t at Watkins Glen to co-drive the team’s No. 40 Mazda RX-8 with Foster or celebrate with the team on this occasion, he was definitely thrilled with the victory.

“I’ve had a busy summer working on Grey’s Anatomy, Flypaper and Transformers 3, and it’s caused me to miss several races,” said Dempsey. “I keep up with Joe and the team on a daily basis and certainly feel like my presence is felt in the shop every day as it always has been. In fact, I call so much that I bet I bug them sometimes! I just like to keep current on what is going on now and – just as importantly – on how our long-term plan for the future is progressing. We took a big step in fulfilling those plans with the team’s first victory.”

The victory was also special for Gue, who has visited Victory Circle three times in the GRAND-AM Continental Tire Sports Car Challenge, but hadn’t tasted Rolex Series victory champagne until the Crown Royal 200 at The Glen.

“I’m really excited to get my first win in the Rolex Series with Dempsey Racing/Team Seattle,” Gue said. “We came close to winning the six-hour race (at Watkins Glen) earlier in the year, so to come back and win at Watkins on the short course is really satisfying.”

Indeed, Watkins Glen has been the setting for more than one near miss for Dempsey Racing over the last couple of years. Gue and Keen finished third in the Sahlen’s Six Hours of The Glen in June, and Foster and Charles Espenlaub came up short of the victory after a strong run in last year’s sprint race at The Glen.

“As a team, we felt this event owed us something,” Dempsey said. “This victory was really overdue for us. It was a great first win for Dempsey Racing, James in the Rolex Series, and John and Jeri Graham from Global, and we have also seen several times this year why Leh is the reigning GT champion.”

And while it was the seventh GT victory of his Rolex Series career, it was also special for Keen.

“It’s definitely a great feeling,” Keen said. “The first podium that we got for the team (in Round 2 this season at Homestead) was very cool, and once we did that, I knew we could get a win for them too.

“All of the guys are a relatively new group that we got this year for the 41 car, and we’ve really done a lot. The only thing we were really missing was a win from this season, so we finally got that.”


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