Patrick Dempsey to Drive the Pace Car at This Month's Indianapolis 500

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Fans gathered yesterday for a lunchtime Indy 500 "Kickoff" gathering on Monument Circle in the center of Downtown Indianapolis.

Patrick Dempsey to Drive the Pace Car at This Month's Indianapolis 500
On hand, the Indianapolis Star reports, were some of the 500 Festival Princesses, Chevrolet Corvettes similar to this year's pace car and music by local band Ribs and Bones.

Elsewhere, the speedway announced that actor (and race-team) co-owner Patrick Dempsey of Grey's Anatomy will drive the pace car at this year's Indianapolis 500 on May 27.

The Lewiston, Maine, native has portrayed Dr. Derek Shepherd on the show since 2005. He is also a co-owner of Indianapolis 500 team Vision Racing.

Dempsey drives in off-road events and sports car races for Hyper Sport Racing. The actor finished a career-best fifth on April 15 in the Koni Challenge Series event at Homestead-Miami Speedway.

"During recent years, [Patrick Dempsey] has developed a strong bond with racing and the Indianapolis Motor Speedway," Joie Chitwood, IMS president and chief operating officer, said in a statement today.

"He truly understands and appreciates the pageantry, prestige and tradition [of auto racing]."

Ed Peper, Chevrolet general manager, said Dempsey is qualified to drive the pace car, which like regular production models comes with 400 horsepower and a top speed of 186 mph.

"He is known as a dedicated car and racing enthusiast," Peper said. "Being accustomed to high-performance cars and racetracks, he's a great candidate to drive the Pace Car."

Steve Marsi is the Managing Editor of TV Fanatic. Follow him on Google+ or email him here.

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hehe i'm going to this with my father!! we're getting awesome seats too.... yayyyyyy!! i hope i get a picture/autograph.. something!

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I would love to be at a race that he was taking part in! I'm sure he will visit with the crowd while he is there! He always seems to be so good about that! Taking pictures and signing autographs! OMGosh, if I got the chance to meet him, that would be a dream come true!

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Can't wait, Can't wait!!!!! A woman that I work with said she can get us a GREAT spot for the parade.....and of COURSE, we're going to the race! I still can't believe that the year I move here is the year PD drives the pace car.....

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COOL!!!!!

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that is one hell of a dangerous game!!

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Good for him - I'm sure it's a big honor for him.

Grey's Anatomy Quotes

Did you say it? 'I love you. I don't ever want to live without you. You changed my life.' Did you say it? Make a plan. Set a goal. Work toward it, but every now and then, look around; Drink it in 'cause this is it. It might all be gone tomorrow."

Meredith (closing voiceover)

Lexie: [narrating] Grief may be a thing we all have in common, but it looks different on everyone.
Mark: It isn't just death we have to grieve. It's life. It's loss. It's change.
Alex: And when we wonder why it has to suck so much sometimes, has to hurt so bad. The thing we gotta try to remember is that it can turn on a dime.
Izzie: That's how you stay alive. When it hurts so much you can't breathe, that's how you survive.
Derek: By remembering that one day, somehow, impossibly, you won't feel this way. It won't hurt this much.
Bailey: Grief comes in its own time for everyone, in its own way.
Owen: So the best we can do, the best anyone can do, is try for honesty.
Meredith: The really crappy thing, the very worst part of grief is that you can't control it.
Arizona: The best we can do is try to let ourselves feel it when it comes.
Callie: And let it go when we can.
Meredith: The very worst part is that the minute you think you're past it, it starts all over again.
Cristina: And always, every time, it takes your breath away.
Meredith: There are five stages of grief. They look different on all of us, but there are always five.
Alex: Denial.
Derek: Anger.
Bailey: Bargaining.
Lexie: Depression.
Richard: Acceptance.