DARIO Franchitti, the Scottish motorsport star, spoke yesterday about the lasting effects of the brain injury he suffered in the accident that brought his career to a premature end.
Franchitti, 41, from Bathgate, West Lothian, revealed that he still forgets words and struggles to recognise the faces of people he knows as a result of the crash at the IndyCar Grand Prix in Houston.
The driver, who won four IndyCar championships and the Indianapolis 500 race three times, suffered two fractured vertebrae, a broken ankle and concussion in the accident in November 2013,
The accident forced Franchitti, who was married to the American actress Ashley Judd, into early retirement.
Yesterday Franchitti, who moved back from the US to Scotland last year, said in a BBC interview: “If I get tired, my concentration goes away. My decision-making isn’t as razor sharp as it was. I will repeat myself; my memory’s not great, I forget words.
“Faces – one of the side effects is I forget faces. You know you can sit there and think about somebody and what they look like and picture them in your head? I really struggle with that now.
“My decision-making isn’t as razor sharp as it was”Dario Franchitti
“I always bump into people that I’ve met. Not great friends, but if I bump into somebody I’ve known and I won’t recognise them. It can be embarrassing at times.
“That sort of stuff happens but it beats the alternative. I could have died.”
Franchitti said he still cannot the remember the accident. “No. I lost about five weeks in that one,” he said
He said that his former wife was a great support during the difficult period immediately after the crash.
He said they “wanted to go different ways” but remain close friends, although he now has a new partner.
“Ashley was great, and Ashley was a fantastic supporter through big accidents, anything,” he said. “Even after we got divorced, when I had my accident at Houston, I woke up the morning after and she was in the room with the dogs saying ‘right, here we are again, let’s get this fixed’.
“But we wanted to go different ways. We had different things we wanted to do in life.
“I’m very happy where my life is just now. I’ve got a wonderful girlfriend and I’m really enjoying it.”
Franchitti added that he had not been comfortable with Hollywood fame during his time with Judd.
He said: “We lived in Nashville on a farm. I stayed out of the Hollywood limelight wherever I could. That was never something I was comfortable with. That was something that had to be dealt with rather than something I wanted.
He said returning to live in Scotland was “wonderful”.
He said: “I lived in the most amazing place and had a great time but I was homesick for Scotland. I was homesick for as long as I was there, since 1999.”