Dario Franchitti made his first press conference appearance Thursday since announcing his abrupt retirement from racing follow his devastating crash on the last lap of the Grand Prix of Houston. Franchitti suffered spinal injuries, a broken ankle and a concussion from the crash.
With the two most coveted trophies in American Open Wheel Racing: The Borg Warner Trophy and the Astor Challenge Cup, both of which Franchitti has his name etched multiple times, Franchitti opened up about his life post the accident.
Following the accident, it was initially pain in his ankle that was bothering him but then it was his head injury that began to cause pain and discomfort Franchitti flew to Miami, Florida to meet with longtime motorsports doctor Steve Olvey to address concerns lingering from the concussion. He stayed with friend and soon to be teammate Tony Kanaan, where he confided in him that he would want nothing more than him to take his place driving the car that took him to 2 Indianapolis 500s and 3 series championships.
Franchitti did not elaborate on the details of his concussion, he just stated that it was symptoms you would expect from any big concussion.
Franchitti suffered a concussion during Spring Training at Homestead in 2000 which hampered his results over the next couple of years. This time around, Franchitti initially knew that this one was different.
.I’d broken my pelvis (in 2000). I kind of told them I was okay. I got back in the car after three weeks. After three weeks this time I was in no shape to do anything.
Following hearing the news from Dr. Olvey, it took Franchitti 2 days to call team owner Chip Ganassi and during that time he pondered whether or not he could get back in a race car being that he had gotten back in a car following injuries before.
I spent two days kind of thinking, How can I get ’round this? 2003 I drove with a broken back in one race, till Dr. Trammell found out and got upset with me. I’ve driven with a few broken body parts over the years. I thought, There’s got to be some kind of a way, some negotiation here but there wasn’t.
Since then, he has spent time recovering back home in Scotland and recently as three weeks ago was still in poor physical shape. He admitted that the realization of his retirement sunk in last week when Chip Ganassi announced that good friend Tony Kanaan would be coming over to drive the #10 car. Although he wanted nothing more than Kanaan to drive his old ride, that was the point where he realized “This is it.”
At the end of the day, Franchitti has no regrets about his decision and was very grateful to have enjoyed the success that he has had in motorsports.
Rather than being kind of bummed about not getting to drive the No. 10 Target car again and other things after that, I’m just very thankful for the career – I don’t even like that word ‘career’ – for the racing I was able to do, the fun I was able to have, all the things that went along with that.
As far as staying involved in IndyCar racing, there are two possibilies for him. He has hinted at the possibility of staying with Chip Ganassi Racing in some role in some way or another.
That’s something we’re working on. We’re working to make that happen. Hopefully that will come along soon and I can start really getting involved and working with the team, continuing that.
Another possibility that he would be open to is becoming a broadcaster, following in the footsteps of his mentor Jackie Stewart, but he hinted that if he wants to do something, he would rather focus on doing one thing the right way rather than doing anything, as he put it, half-assed.
I think whatever you do, though, you’ve got to do it properly. That’s something I’d have to take into account. Could I work with a team 100% and give 100% to that and be totally focused on that? Broadcast, too.
Could I do those things? If I could, then I’d be interested in it. There’s no point in doing anything half-assed. Not the way I do things. The guys here would get pretty pissed off pretty quickly.