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Citing Le Mans 2015 as his greatest experience, he speaks of the “transcendence” he feels at the wheel of a racing car “where everything just fits. It’s like when you’re [here] on the ice and you get the power down and you feel it in the seat of your pants, there’s nothing better. You have the right rhythm, and your mind just stops thinking and you’re present. It’s so cleansing, mentally. It’s very zen, the sense of being on the limit but in control. I feel most alive when I’m on the track. When I’m not there, there’s a numbness to life.”
Grey’s Anatomy came to an end for Dr Derek Shepherd, and in turn Dempsey, the same year he took his Le Mans podium, although he came back for a cameo in 2020. This was despite being dead. Ironically, the character had been killed in a Porsche Cayenne. “[The showrunners] were pissed because I was racing. With a show like that, you’re at the mercy of what the show wants to do. I wanted to be more in control of things, and there’s nothing like control behind the wheel.”
Dempsey is not just here in Finland to have fun in the 911 Turbo S and Cayman GT4 and give GQ some ice driving coaching. He’s here to launch the new TAG-Heuer Carrera x Porsche limited-edition; a sporty black chronograph with pops of yellow that look particularly on point when wrestling a wheel bearing the Stuttgart crest. Its textile-textured black calfskin strap with yellow stitching is inspired by the seat upholstery of Porsche’s high-performance models. Limited to 1,500 numbered units, it is priced at £5,850.
“TAG Heuer is very similar to Porsche in that it’s an iconic brand that keeps evolving, but it hasn’t lost its heritage,” reflects Dempsey. “The DNA is very much alive and in this watch, just like the 911, they haven’t gone too far off.” Unsurprisingly, this petrolhead owns more than a few timepieces. “My [TAG Heuer] Monaco means the most to me, because that’s the one I had on when I was on the podium [at Le Mans]. That’ll always be special when I look at it. And this Porsche one,” he says, lifting the chronograph, “will remind me of this ice experience, where we are now. Each watch I own is a moment in time that is captured.”