INDIANAPOLIS — One of the greatest champions in the Indianapolis 500 and one of the legendary names in Indy car racing will race no more.
Dario Franchitti announced Thursday that his racing career is over.
The three-time Indianapolis 500 winner and four-time IndyCar Series champion will be unable to continue his racing career because of injuries suffered in a horrific last-lap crash in the second race of the Shell and Pennzoil Grand Prix of Houston on Oct. 6.
Franchitti was involved in a last-lap crash with Takuma Sato and the collision sent his Dallara/Honda airborne and into the tire fence. The impact ripped away the fence and sent debris into the spectators and a wheel over the wall but none of the spectators were seriously injured.
Franchitti suffered a concussion, spinal fracture and ankle in the crash and had every intention of continuing his racing career after surgery to repair the damage.
But the 40-year-old driver from Scotland is taking the advice of his physicians and ending his glorious career with 31 victories (tied for eighth on the all-time list) and 33 poles (sixth on the all-time list).
“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,” Franchitti said. “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.
“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.”
The popular driver has already achieved greatness and a place in Indianapolis 500 history that puts him in the same category as A.J. Foyt, Al Unser, Rick Mears, Johnny Rutherford, Helio Castroneves, Bobby Unser, Louis Meyer, Mauri Rose and Wilbur Shaw as the only drivers to win the Indy 500 three or more times.
He won his first Indianapolis 500 and the series championship in 2007 for Andretti Autosport and spent a season out of IndyCar racing as he attempted a switch to NASCAR. But the lure of the Indianapolis 500 and IndyCar brought Franchitti back in 2009 to Target/Chip Ganassi Racing where he scored three more IndyCar titles and Indy 500 wins in 2010 and 2012.
Along with Castroneves, Franchitti appeared to have all the ingredients to join Foyt, Al Unser and Mears as the next four-time winner of the Indianapolis 500.