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'Grey's Anatomy' star Patrick Dempsey discusses his racing hobby with Jay Leno in a 6-figure vintage Porsche

"This is the holy grail," says actor Patrick Dempsey, admiring a vintage 1973 Porsche Carrera RS 2.7.

Jay Leno feels the same way. "This is the one to have," Leno agrees. "Obviously."

Dempsey might best be known for his role on ABC's "Grey's Anatomy." But these days he's also making a name for himself as a race car driver. He has his own Porsche team, and last year Dempsey Racing took the podium at the world famous 24 Hours of Le Mans.

In a recent episode of CNBC's "Jay Leno's Garage," he meets with Leno out in the California desert to show off his driving skills as they take the classic Porsche for a spin.

Carefully. Very carefully.

Patrick Dempsey and Jay Leno take a spin in a vintage Porsche.
CNBC
Patrick Dempsey and Jay Leno take a spin in a vintage Porsche.

Dempsey explains that these Porsches are "so valuable that it's a shame they can't be driven the way they were meant to be driven."

Braking is a concern as they navigate sharp corners. The tires understeer, so the car loses traction in the front wheels while cornering.

"That's why I don't like to race the vintage cars," Dempsey says. "They're not safe."

Dempsey got into racing when he was young. His father was a moonshine runner in Maryland who owned a short track car. On Friday nights he brought toy match box cars home to his son.

"His passion for racing was mine," Dempsey says. "And I think that's why I like the racing so much. It reminds me of that time of my life."

When Dempsey was just 17, his father died. The actor says he thinks his father would have loved his racing.

Which might have been nice since, as Dempsey adds, "He wasn't too keen on the acting."

CNBC's "Jay Leno's Garage" airs Wednesdays at 10 p.m. EDT.