Greensburg Daily News
---- — Probably the toughest decision three-time Indianapolis 500 winner Dario Franchitti ever made was announcing Thursday that his 30-year racing career was over.
The popular 40-year-old driver suffered serious injuries in a violent accident at Houston on Oct. 6. Franchitti suffered a broken right ankle, a fractured spine, and a serious concussion in that wreck. Since then he has had two surgeries, and has been recuperating at his home in Scotland. Bothered by difficulty sleeping and short-term memory loss, he flew to Miami to consult with Dr. Steve Olvey, the pioneer doctor who has worked to improve safety in IndyCar racing the last two decades.
Olvey gave Franchitti his professional opinion.
“I told him that he had received three significant concussions not too far apart (2002, 2006 and the recent one last month),” said Olvey. “This was a big one, a significant concussion...In my mind, it was too risky for him to continue driving.”
Franchitti made a statement Thursday regarding his impending forced retirement from racing.
“Since my racing accident in Houston, I have been in expert care of some leading doctors and nurses...,” said Franchitti. “One month removed from the crash, and based upon the expert advice of the doctors who have treated and assessed my head and spinal injuries post-accident, it is their best medical opinion that I must stop racing...Based on this medical advice, I have no choice but to stop. Racing has been my life for over 30 years, and it’s really tough to think that the driving side is now over. I was looking forward to the 2014 season with Target Chip Ganassi Racing, with the goal of winning a fourth Indy 500 and fifth IndyCar Series championship. Hopefully in time, I’ll be able to continue in some off-track capacity with the IndyCar Series. I love open-wheel racing, and I want to see it succeed.”
Franchitti’s driving record and achievements have earned the popular driver a legendary status in Indy car racing. He ends his storied racing career with 31 Indy car victories (tied for eighth in all-time wins), 33 pole positions (sixth all-time), four IndyCar Series championships, and three Indianapolis 500 wins. Dario Franchitti has been the face of the IndyCar Series since he returned in 2009 following a brief stint in NASCAR. He won three straight titles from 2009 -2011, and two of his three Indianapolis 500 wins.
Franchitti’s forced early retirement is a real blow to the IndyCar Series, which certainly needs more driving stars like him in the field. Dario Franchitti’s talent, popularity, and personality have earned him a special, well-respected status among fellow drivers, race fans, race officials, and sponsors.
Hopefully for the IndyCar Series, Franchitti can get his stated wish of “being able to continue in some off-track capacity with the IndyCar Series.”
It would be wise for the IndyCar Series officials to provide a way for a famous driver of Franchitti’s stature help improve the Series. After all, he admitted in his retirement statement that he loves “open-wheel racing, and I want to see it succeed.”
This way Franchitti could definitely be a positive force in helping create a better IndyCar Series, and a different kind of personal motor sports legacy - outside the driver’s cockpit!