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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Grey's Anatomy Quotes

Maggie: Honesty and privacy are not mutually exclusive. 
Amelia: Ohh, I like that!

Maggie: He just walked out of the fog with a new girlfriend, like I never existed. I think I might actually hate him.
Zola: My teacher said hating someone is like drinking poison and expecting the other person to die. 
Maggie: Go get ready for school.