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Patrick Dempsey's Passion for Racing Was Fueled by His Dad's Days as a Moonshiner Runner

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Patrick Dempsey‘s love for racing is well-known, but the origins of his need for speed might surprise you.

In an exclusive sneak peek at Wednesday’s Jay Leno’s Garage, the former Grey’s Anatomy star reveals to fellow gearhead Jay Leno that his father’s illicit activities smuggling hooch sparked his own passion for automotive adventure.

“My dad was a big fan of racing. He grew up in Maryland. He was part of that generation of the moonshine runners,” reveals Dempsey, 50.

He continues, “He had a short-track car, and on Friday nights he would bring me home a Matchbox car every week. His passion for racing was mine, and that’s always something I loved as a kid. And I think that’s why I love racing so much — it reminds me of that time in my life.”

Though Dempsey’s father died when Patrick 17 years old, the actor says he knows he’s making his father proud … mostly.

“I think he would have loved the racing,” he tells Leno, 66. “He wasn’t too keen on the acting so much.”

Jay Leno’s Garage airs Wednesdays (10 p.m. ET) on CNBC.