Peter DempseyFirestone Indy Lights driver Peter Dempsey has never been more revved up and ready for the start of a race season. After securing his 2013 seat with Belardi Auto Racing in October, Dempsey has spent the weeks leading up to this weekend’s season opener in St. Petersburg, Florida training, testing, and preparing with the team. Though regarded as a series veteran, this year will be Dempsey’s first full season in Firestone Indy Lights, making him a first time contender for the coveted championship title, a prize that comes with a one million dollar scholarship towards a ride in the IZOD IndyCar Series.

The sole Irish driver in the IZOD IndyCar Series ladder, Dempsey has done his country proud thus far with four podiums, a best finish of second at the Honda Indy Toronto in 2011, and a well-earned reputation as “one to watch” in the series. It was in St. Petersburg where Dempsey made his series debut, leading the first 11 laps of the 2011 race and finishing a strong third place among a highly competitive field. Two years later, Dempsey is looking to rekindle that same form as a pilot of the No. 5 Liberty Engineering / Belardi Auto Racing car.

“It’s been a pretty long off-season,” said Dempsey. “The team has worked extremely hard both during testing and at the shop, and I feel that everyone has given absolutely 100 percent leading up to this weekend’s race in St. Petersburg. I feel very confident that the Belardi Auto Racing team is going to have a strong package this weekend. I feel like I’ve been training harder than ever, and my mindset is in a completely new place because I know I am fighting for a championship title and not just running race by race. The field is going to be very competitive this year, so it will be important for us to make sure we bring everything we have to every race weekend. I’m really pumped up to get the season started.”

As every professional racecar driver needs professional racing gear, Dempsey is proud to be supported by several of the industry’s leading gear suppliers for the 2013 season. OMP Racing, HMS Motorsport, Schroth Racing, Stilo Helmets, and JamAir Paint will all be found in Dempsey’s equipment repertoire this year.

“I’m very happy to be working with such great brands. I feel that OMP race wear is the safest and most attractive in the business, and with my Stilo helmet painted by JamAir Paint, I know I will be in a safe position in the car. It’s also great to have the continued backing of HMS Motorsport and Schroth Racing seatbelts because they really reinforce my confidence in the car that we have built.”

This weekend’s festivities at the Honda Grand Prix of St. Petersburg kick off with the first official Firestone Indy Lights practice session at 10:10am EST on Friday, March 22. Qualifying will take place at 9:25am EST on Saturday, March 23, followed by the first race of the 2013 season at 3:40pm EST. To follow Peter’s progress, please go to www.peterdempsey.com and www.indycar.com.