Bathgate’s Dario Franchitti has admitted he has “no regrets” as he held his first news conference in America since he announced his retirement from racing.
The triple Indy500 winner, and four-time IndyCar champ, revealed he has been boosted by the number of supporting calls from people he ranks as his ‘heroes’.
“Jackie [Stewart] called me when I was at my mum and dad’s house in Scotland, and he was at the F1 US grand prix at Austin,” the 40-year-old explained yesterday. “That meant a lot. Then I got a call from my old friend Alex Zanardi, who had a couple of ideas about what we could do in the future.
“As you know, I’m a great lover of the history of our sport, and to know people I rank as my heroes have reached out to me offering their support has meant a huge amount to me.”
Franchitti, who was keen to emphasise that “Scotland will always be my home”, did acknowledge how strongly he feels about the States.
“People have always asked if I have any regrets in my career, and usually that’s accompanied by the question of, ‘do you wish you’d raced in Formula One’,” Franchitti continued.
“I have no regrets. As I said, Scotland will always be my home, but whenever I got on to a racetrack in the US, America was my home. I’ve always loved the way you guys put on a race meeting. It’s brilliant.”
Franchitti, who was advised by doctors not to race again for fear of causing permanent damage following the severe concussion and broken vertebra he received in the high-speed crash in Houston at the beginning of October, looked relaxed and at ease during the 20-minute conference held at the HQ of his Chip Ganassi Racing team in Indianapolis, also allowed the Scot to touch on his plans for the future.
“Chip and I are talking about how we can go forward, and the role I can play,” he said. “But whatever I do next, I know I have to do it properly.
“There’s no point in doing something half-hearted. It’s not the way I do things. You have to add something. But Chip and I have had a lot of chats.”
And Franchitti admitted it was emotionally tough to finally accept his close friend, Brazilian Tony Kanaan was to drive his No 10 car in the 2014 IndyCar season.
“Tony was with me when I went through the final set of medical tests in Miami,” Franchitti explained, “and he was there when I got the news from the docs that I couldn’t drive again.
“That’s when I said I’d like him to drive my No 10 car. That conversation with Tony was the first time I admitted to myself that me never racing again might become reality. And that was tough.”
Franchitti revealed that the biggest disappointment of his enforced retirement was not being able to go for his fourth Indy500 win. “I would have loved to have done the Le Mans 24-Hours,” he said. “That was something definitely on my ‘to-do’ list for later.
“But the biggest disappointment is the fact I won’t be able to go for my fourth Indy500. That reality’s been tough: and next May will be tough because of that.”