Sunday, May 19, 2019

"3-time Indy 500" Winner Dario Franchitti Born - May 19, 1973

May 19, 1973
Dario Franchitti
(Photo: Chess REO via photopin cc)
Born in Bathgate, West Lothian, Scotland.
He is a four time IndyCar Series champion, a three-time winner of the Indianapolis 500 as well as a winner of the 2008 24 Hours of Daytona.

Franchitti started his career in his native United Kingdom in the early 1990s, competing in Formula Vauxhall and Formula Three and was also the winner of the McLaren Autosport BRDC Award in 1992. After Franchitti did not secure a single-seater drive in 1995, he was contracted by the AMG team to compete in touring cars in the DTM and its successor , the International Touring Car Championship. Despite 2 seasons with relative success, the series folded at the end of the 1996 season, again leaving Franchitti without a drive.

Mercedes placed Franchitti in CART in 1997 with the Hogan Racing team. Franchitti spent 6 seasons in CART, where he won 10 races with the Team Green squad that he joined in 1998. He failed to win a championship title, with a best final position of 2nd-place in 1999, behind Juan Pablo Montoya in a tie-breaker.

Team Green moved to the IndyCar Series for the 2003 campaign, with Franchitti remaining in the team. Franchitti's first season for IndyCar was disrupted by an injury, but won his first races the following season. His breakout year came in 2007, when he won the rain-shortened Indianapolis 500 as one of 4 victories in his route to a first career championship title in a final-race title decider with Scott Dixon. At the end of the season, Franchitti was named as BBC Scotland's Sports Personality of the Year.

After an ill-fated move to NASCAR in 2008, Franchitti returned to IndyCar in 2009 driving for Chip Ganassi Racing. Franchitti won on his 2nd start back in the series, and eventually took 5 wins as he won a 2nd championship, again in a final race championship decider against Dixon and Team Penske's Ryan Briscoe. He retained the title in 2010, again with a final race championship win over Penske's Will Power. Franchitti's strong form on ovals, including a 2nd Indianapolis 500 victory, allowed him to overhaul Power by 5 points at the final race. His 3rd consecutive and 4th overall title came in 2011, in which he battled Power for the championship the second time but the championship win ultimately was decided in favour of Franchitti, after the season's final race was abandoned due to a serious crash that resulted in the death of his close friend and former teammate Dan Wheldon. A new car was introduced for the 2012 season, in which Franchitti only scored 1 victory – in the Indianapolis 500 – to become the 10th driver to win at least 3 Indianapolis 500's during a career.

On October 6, 2013 Franchitti was involved in a serious crash in the Grand Prix of Houston, when his car flew into catch-fencing after contact with the car of Takuma Sato. Franchitti suffered 2 fractured vertebrae, a broken ankle, and a concussion in the crash. Later he would learn that he had forgotten some of his past. A month later, on November 14, Franchitti announced his immediate retirement from motor racing on medical advice. He retired with 31 victories from 265 starts in his American open-wheel racing career, a tally which put him in a tie for ninth on the all-time wins list with Paul Tracy.

Franchitti married American actress Ashley Judd in December 2001. They divorced in 2013. Franchitti has since married, he and wife Eleanor have a daughter Sofia. He is the older brother of Scottish racing driver Marino Franchitti. He is the cousin of former Formula One driver Paul di Resta.

1 comment:

  1. Always one of my favourite drivers. Sorry he had to quit so soon but very glad he survived his crash and still contributes to motor racing.