, currently starring as Derek "McDreamy" Shepherd on ABC’s hit Grey's Anatomy
, will be driving the pace car at the Indianapolis 500 this month, leading the drivers to the green flag at the start of the race.
Dempsey, an avid racing fan and a co-owner of the Vision Racing team, has been driving in racing events for some time, and recently competed in the Grand-Am Koni Challenge at the Iowa Speedway, where he placed sixth driving a Mustang GT. As we reported to you last month
, Dempsey’s said a few times that he likes racing even better than being on Grey’s Anatomy
"I really enjoy racing much more than I enjoy doing the show," Dempsey said. "I mean I enjoy the show, but it's a different thing."
The pace car drivers are usually celebrities of some sort, so it’s an added bonus that Dempsey’s also a race car driver. Last year, Tour de France winner Lance Armstrong was the pace car driver, joining other celebrity drivers like Morgan Freeman, Anthony Edwards, Jim Caviezel, Jay Leno and former Secretary of State Colin Powell.
Indianapolis Motor Speedway president Joie Chitwood said of Dempsey, "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 was recently named one of People Magazine’s Most Beautiful People of 2007, and told People Magazine (of his recently-acquired grey hair) "The gray hairs certainly have come in the last few months. The last year has been difficult on many levels, with [Grey's Anatomy
] moving to Thursday night, and everything that happened this year, and worrying that everything was going to go all right with the boys [newborns Darby and Sullivan] and my wife [Jill, age 41]. But they've ceased to come in as quickly."
So, will he ever leave Grey’s Anatomy
for racing? Sounds like probably not, although he admits to finding it difficult to transition between the two.
"It was hard to go back Monday morning ... and get back into the show," Dempsey said after a race in Miami recently. "One helps the other, but I really love it. It's such a passion."
-Mel, BuddyTV Staff Columnist
Source: People, Associated Press, Des Moines Register
Photo credit: Des Moines Register