SCOTLAND’S Dario Franchitti, the four-times IndyCar Series champion, reluctantly retired last night after doctors told him it was too dangerous to continue racing following his crash injuries last month.
Franchitti broke his spine and right ankle and suffered a concussion in a race on 6 October in Houston, Texas, where his car made contact with Takuma Sato’s machine and sailed into a fence. Debris from the accident injured 13 fans in the grandstands and one IndyCar official. The 40-year-old had two operations on his ankle and returned home to Scotland to recover.
“One month removed from the crash and based upon the expert advice of the doctors who have treated and assessed my injuries, it is their best medical opinion that I must stop racing,” Franchitti said. “They have made it very clear that the risks involved in further racing are too great and could be detrimental to my long term well-being. Based on this medical advice, I have no choice but to stop.”
The three-times Indianapolis 500 winner did not use the word “retire” in a lengthy statement released through Target Chip Ganassi Racing, the team he joined in 2009 following a brief stint in NASCAR.
Franchitti was unstoppable upon his return to IndyCar. He reeled off three consecutive championships and won 12 races upon his return. Two of the wins were Indy 500s.
He became the face of the series and he always had crossover appeal for IndyCar through his 11-year marriage to actress Ashley Judd, which ended in January. But he was personable, well-spoken, popular in the paddock and passionate about the series. It resonated with fans and made Franchitti one of IndyCar’s all-time greats.
Franchitti’s 31 victories are tied for eighth on the all-time list and his 33 poles are sixth.
“Dario Franchitti has done so much for Target Chip Ganassi Racing, so it will be very disappointing to not see him in our cars next season,” Ganassi said. “But simply put, Dario is a motorsports legend.”
Franchitti said he hoped to continue in IndyCar in some off-track capacity.