Exclusive:Hollywood star power at Leadfoot
Hollywood star power at Leadfoot Festival
Grey’s Anatomy actor and accomplished racing car driver Patrick Dempsey will be the star attraction at the Leadfoot motorsport festival in New Zealand early next year.
The Leadfoot Festival is hosted by veteran New Zealand motorsport figure Rod Millen on his farm at Hahei and features a range of classic cars and motorcycles.
The Hollywood star is likely to race one of the latest and fastest Porsche models during the hillclimb event from February 6-7.
When he wasn’t playing surgeon Dr Derek Shephard, known better as McDreamy, in 225 episodes of Grey’s Anatomy,
Dempsey was running his own racing team in the USA for a decade.
He also featured in this year’s prestigious Le Mans24 Hour race in France, coming second in his class driving a Porsche 911 RSR.
Millen choses who to invite to compete in the festival, which is based on the famous Goodwood Festival of Speed event in Britain.
His friendship with Dempsey began when they both competed in desert racing events in the United States years ago.
“We’re very excited Patrick is coming to Leadfoot,” Millen told Driven this week.
“Patrick and I go back a long time, racing at the likes of the Baha 1000 in the States over a dozen or more years.
“Competing in desert races we built up a friendship and have kept in touch, and he has shown an interest in what we have been doing at Leadfoot over the last few years.”
Dempsey had shown an interest in racing at Leadfoot but his Grey’s Anatomy filming commitments had prevented him coming in the past.
But the show’s creator, Shondra Rhimes, killed off McDreamy in a car accident after 11 years.
“Patrick is at a point in his life and in his career where you have achieved a lot and can do some of the fun things you really want to do,” said Millen.“This year he said ‘I can make it next year’.”
It was not yet decided what Dempsey would drive at the festival but Porsche has supported the Dempsey Racing Team, and so it was likely to be one of their cars.
At this year’s Le Mans race, Dempsey risked his reputation built up over a decade to prove he could compete with the world’s best racers.
Millen said it was no easy task for Dempsey to become a race driver competitive among the world’s leading professional drivers.
“It is no easy task getting to where he is today,” he said.
“At Le Mans he was up against a world-class field and he took a huge risk to prepare himself and be ready to take on the world’s best and most competitive drivers.”
Millen said Paul Newman and his success in motorsport had provided an inspiration for Dempsey.
Millen said Dempsey would be competing in a sports car endurance race at Daytona in the United States the weekend before he arrived in New Zealand for the Leadfoot Festival.