Dario Franchitti announced Thursday he will no longer be able to compete in auto racing because of injuries suffered in an October 6 crash.
The 40-year-old IndyCar champion, who suffered a broken back, right ankle and concussion in a crash at the Houston Grand Prix that sent his car airborne into a catchfence and back onto the temporary street circuit, also won three Indianapolis 500s in a career that started in 1997.
Dario Franchitti and his team were looking forward to his return in 2014, when Ganassi is welcoming 2013 Indianapolis 500 winner Tony Kanaan to the stable that already includes three-time and reigning IndyCar champion Scott Dixon.
The Chip Ganassi Racing driver ends his career tied for eighth on the all-time list with 31 career wins and 33 pole positions.
Dario Franchitti issued the following statement: “Since my racing accident in Houston, I have been in the expert care of some of the leading doctors and nurses, all of whom have made my health, my safety and my recovery their top priority. I am eternally grateful for the medical care I have received over the last several weeks. I’d also like to thank my family and friends for their unbelievable support.
Dario Franchitti announced he will no longer be able to compete in auto racing because of injuries suffered in Houston crash
“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. 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.
“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 really looking forward to the 2014 season with Target Chip Ganassi Racing, with a goal of winning a fourth Indianapolis 500 and a fifth IndyCar Series championship.
“I’d like to thank all my fellow competitors, teammates, crew and sponsors for their incredible support over the course of this amazing ride. I’d also like to thank Hogan Racing, Team KOOL Green and Andretti Green Racing for the opportunities to compete on the racetrack, and especially Target Chip Ganassi Racing, who have become like a family to me since I joined their team back in 2008. I would be remiss if I didn’t thank all my fans around the world. I can’t thank you enough for standing by my side for all these years.
“I’ll forever look back on my time racing in CART and the IndyCar Series with fond memories and the relationships I’ve forged in the sport will last a lifetime.
“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. I’ll be working with Chip to see how I can stay involved with the team, and with all the amazing friends I’ve made over the years at Target.”
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IndyCar champion Dario Franchitti fractured two vertebrae, broke his right ankle and sustained a concussion when his car went airborne into a catch fence during the final lap of the Grand Prix of Houston on Sunday, with flying debris injuring 13 fans and a series official.
Dario Franchitti, 40, was transported to a hospital where the three-time Indianapolis 500 winner would be held overnight, and a series official was treated for minor injuries.
Houston Fire Department spokesman Ruy Lozano said 11 of the 13 injured fans were treated on site at Reliant Park. Lozano said two were taken to the hospital for treatment.
The accident occurred when Dario Franchitti’s car clipped the tire of the car driven by Takuma Sato when the two were coming out of Turn 5 at the Reliant Park race course. After Dario Franchitti’s car hit the fence, it landed back on the track. Also involved in the wreckage was E.J. Viso, whose car collided with Takuma Sato’s car.
The accident brought an immediate caution flag and the race was halted with Power declared the winner.
Dario Franchitti car crash during the final lap of the Grand Prix of Houston
Takuma Sato said his car clipped the wall before Dario Franchitti’s car collided with his.
“On the last lap I caught the marbles and brushed the wall and lost momentum,” Takuma Sato said.
“A couple cars passed me as I was off line and in Turn 5. I got very loose and Dario and I came together. Hopefully Dario is OK.”
The accident in Turn 5 was reminiscent of Dan Wheldon’s fatal 2011 crash at Las Vegas; in both cases, competitors had to drive through the wreckage.
It was a sobering moment for race winner Will Power, who broke his back in the Las Vegas crash, and Scott Dixon, who took control of the IndyCar championship race Sunday but passed by teammate Dario Franchitti’s car and waved in an attempt to get an update on his condition.
“The smells and the visuals, for me, and even talking to Will, you have the remnants of Vegas popping into your head with you coming around the corner and you can’t drive through it because there’s a field of debris,” Scott Dixon said.
“There was no near the amount of damage that we saw [in 2011], but seeing the replay was a big shock.”
Scott Dixon will head to Auto Club Speedway in Fontana for the series finale on October 19 with a 25-point lead over Helio Castroneves, who surrendered first place in the standings when he finished 23rd after mechanical problems Sunday.
Dan Wheldon, Indianapolis 500 winner died Sunday at Las Vegas Motor Speedway after his car burst into flames following a high-speed 15-car pile-up.
Dan Wheldon’s Dallara-Honda flew over another racer’s car and landed in a catch fence just outside Turn 2. Three other drivers, including championship contender Will Power, were hurt in the pileup during Lap 11.
Dan Wheldon, 33, was a two-time Indy winner, including this year’s race.
The British Indycar champion was rushed to University Medical Center of Las Vegas in a helicopter but died as a result of his severe “unsurvivable” injuries.
Dan Wheldon, Indianapolis 500 winner died Sunday at Las Vegas Motor Speedway after his car burst into flames following a high-speed 15-car pile-up
There were speculations that Dan Wheldon was pushing himself to the limits for the massive $5 million bonus given to drivers who had started at the back of the grid.
Organizers of the race had offered the $5 million bonus to any non-regular IndyCar driver, such as Dan Wheldon, who had started at the back of the field.
Despite his previous success, Dan Wheldon was not a regular driver this season and accepted the offer, leading to speculation this caused him to drive faster than normal. A win would have helped to restore him to the heights of the series and helped with sponsorship.
The race was abandoned after the tragedy and as news of Dan Wheldon’s death spread there were emotional scenes track side.
IndyCar CEO, Randy Bernard confirmed Dan Wheldon’s death during a press conference.
“IndyCar is very sad to announce that Dan Wheldon has passed away from unsurvivable injuries.
“Our thoughts and prayers are with his family today.”
Fellow driver Dario Franchitti, Den Wheldon’s former teammate and friend since the age of six, said:
“One minute you’re joking around at driver intros.
“I lost, we lost, a good friend. Everybody in the IndyCar series considered him a friend. He was such a good guy. He was a charmer.”
With the race abandoned, drivers, many sobbing openly, took part in a five-lap salute around the oval in honor of one of the sport’s biggest stars.
Dan Wheldon is the first IndyCar driver to die on the track since rookie Paul Dana was killed in practice on the morning of race day at Homestead-Miami Speedway in 2006.
The tragedy comes just months after Dan Wheldon won the famous Indianapolis 500 in May for the second time.
Dan Wheldon, who lived in St Petersburg, Florida, won the entire IndyCar series championship back in 2005, when he also enjoyed his first triumph in the Indy500 race.
Dan Wheldon was born in Emberton, Buckinghamshire, and he attended the fee-paying Bedford School and started karting at the age of four.
After an early racing rivalry with contemporary and Formula One ace Jenson Button, Dan Wheldon left the UK in 1999 for the more lucrative racing scene in the USA.
Dan Wheldon with his wife Susie, baby son Oliver, and older son Sebastian, when he won Indianapolis 500 in May 2011
Dan Wheldon’s first Indianapolis 500 victory was in 2005, when he passed Danica Patrick with less than 10 laps to go that year.
He was the beneficiary of a huge gaffe by someone else.
Dan Wheldon was in second place, far back of rookie J.R. Hildebrand approaching the final turn – when Hildebrand lost control and clipped the wall.
Dan Wheldon was almost resigned to finishing second at Indy for the third straight year, before misfortune struck Hildebrand.
“It’s obviously unfortunate, but that’s Indianapolis,” he said.
“That’s why it’s the greatest spectacle in racing. You never know what’s going to happen.”
Dan Wheldon is survived by his wife Susie and two sons, Sebastian and Oliver.