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A NASCAR Girl goes to an American Le Mans Series Race

Posted by Amy in General

Mazda Raceway (know to us locals as Laguna Seca) is the closest race track to my house- it’s only 10 miles from where I live and if I stand in a certain place in my backyard I can hear it when there are cars (or motorcycles) on track. I attended my very first race at that track (a CART race in the early 1990′s).  You might remember me mentioning it about a year ago when Ferrari North America brought me to my first Ferrari Racing Days hosted at the track. I had a great time with Ferrari (those are some beautiful cars).  It should be no surprise then that when I was offered free tickets to the American Le Mans Series race out at Mazda Raceway (Laguna Seca) that I snapped them up. I was extremely pleased that the there were 2 tickets because I could take my dad with me and that our tickets included access to the Paddock/Garage area.

When we first got to the track (it was right about 8:00 am) the Mazda Raceway was extremely foggy (as Misty would call it- serial killer fog). Let’s just say we were driving into the parking on North/South Boundary road and we nearly missed the turn out for the ticket check because it was just marked off with cones and hard to see.

Picture of the scoring pylon ensconced in fog at Mazda Raceway. See it was REALLY foggy. (Photo Credit: Amy K. Marbach)

It was so foggy that they had postponed the first race (there were three different races that day).  That was actually okay by me because we felt like perusing the Paddock/Garage area anyway.  While waiting for the marine layer to lift we spent time taking pictures:

Pretty Pink Porsche- which I later found out was driven by Melanie Snow! I took a picture because I thought the car was pretty. (Photo Credit: Amy K. Marbach)

I felt a kinship to the sponsors on this Corvette- afterall Mobil 1 sponsors Tony Stewart and I just happen to be sporting my Mobil 1 /Tony Stewart bucket hat this day. (Photo Credit: Amy K. Marbach)

If you have been to my site before you know I LOVE to take pictures of tires. Here is one of many I took on Saturday. (Photo Credit: Amy K. Marbach)

Soon the first race of the day, the souped up Mazda Miata’s were about to take to the track despite the fog:

Mazdas lined up and ready to take to the track at Mazda Raceway. (Photo Credit: Amy K. Marbach)

The Mazdas head out onto the foggy track at Mazda Raceway. (Photo Credit: Amy K. Marbach)

While the cars were on track we stayed in the Paddock/Garage area to see if we could spy Patrick Dempsey.  I was excited when I heard he would be racing. My dad had no idea who he was and jokingly kept asking me if this person was him or that person as we wandered around the paddock that morning.

The door of the 27 Dempsey Racing car. (Photo Credit: Amy K. Marbach)

It was extremely easy to find which car was Patrick’s because it was the one with all the people crowded around it.  We stopped by early saw nothing was afoot and continued on for awhile. Then we returned to it when we saw a bunch of television cameras around it.  We hung out for what seemed like forever- outlasting the television crew. While waiting there to try to catch a glimpse of Patrick Dempsey,  I was endlessly entertained by watching a nearby team practicing getting in and out of their car (the last race of the day was a 6 hour endurance race that had driver changes):

Drivers practicing switching off for the endurance race at Mazda Raceway. (Photo Credit: Amy K. Marbach)

I figured we had actually missed Patrick Dempsey especially when the TV camera guys packed up and left…but still we remained.  I was looking for something nearby to take a picture of and when I turned around that is when I saw him approaching us all in a golf cart.  I kind of got a little flustered (it is McDreamy afterall!) and momentarily forgot how to work my  camera (and don’t think my father hasn’t been teasing me mercilessly about it), but fear not- my dad was there camera in hand:

Patrick Dempsey arriving at his area in the Paddock at Mazda Raceway. I may have squealed "There he is" to my dad to be sure he got a picture because I couldn't figure out how to work my damn camera. (Photo Credit: Ralph X. Marbach)

My dad got some great pictures of Patrick- see:

Patrick Dempsey at Mazda Raceway. (Photo Credit: Ralph X. Marbach)

He actually said hello to us as he was entering his garage area (at Laguna most of the “garage stalls” are really just tents pitched next to the Haulers) then proceeded to march right into his hauler. I was a bit disappointed really. Until I  saw him come right back out with a Dempsey racing cap in hand. He proceeded to walk over to a little boy standing with all us gawkers and hand it to him:

Patrick Dempsey hands a Dempsey Racing hat to a young fan standing outside his garage area. (Photo Credit: Amy K. Marbach)

He then took several minutes to take pictures with the boy for his parents and to talk to them. It was really REALLY sweet. I saw the boy and his dad in the garage later in a different area. The boy was wearing his new hat and had this HUGE smile on his face. That right there is a memory that boy is not likely to forget!

We finally make our way over to some of the grandstands at Mazda Raceway. When I first started attending racing there the best seats were in turn 11.  But then they built these pit suites that blocked the view from that turn.  We trudged over to the grandstands in the other turn (I believe we were in turn 4) when the sun came out! YEY sun. Those were some AWESOME seats and I will sit there from now on- and highly recommend that you do to if you want to see good racing action with an unobstructed view.

Several different classes of cars practice for the endurance race at Mazda Raceway. (Photo Credit: Amy K. Marbach)

It was a long fun day and I took tons of pictures. I have uploaded some of my favorite pictures that I took to this flickr set that you should check out (and yes there are more Patrick Dempsey pictures from when I finally figured out how to work my camera).

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