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Dario Franchitti – Q&A

Dario Franchitti used the final IndyCar Series test of 2013 to hold his first media session since announcing he would be unable to continue his racing career.
Dario, have you had much time to think about the future now? What is your plan with the team and your thoughts going ahead?

Dario Franchitti:
Like I said, I'd love to stay involved in IndyCar racing, certainly with the Target team, everybody involved in that. 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. I've already been doing that, been upstairs giving the engineers a hard time, they've been giving me a hard time. TK's phone has already been burned out. I've got this idea. He's like 'Oh, good. I've had a lot of time to think.' It's something I really want to do, so we're working to make that happen.

Dario, once you were told medically you were in too much danger to get back into a race car, how much after you announced that, was there a contemplation period where you thought you could still do it?

Dario Franchitti:
The important thing for me was to tell [team owner] Chip [Ganassi], first of all. I think it was two days between the time I got told and when I told Chip. I don't really remember how much longer it was after that. Times and dates are a little scrambled, to be honest. The first thing I wanted to do was tell Chip. That was two days after. I spent two days kind of thinking 'how can I get 'round this?'. In 2003, I drove with a broken back in one race, till Dr [Terry] 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. The next phone call was to Chip. I called [team managing director] Mike [Hull]. I called Scott [Dixon], TK [Tony Kanaan], those guys, This is what's going to happen.

What has been the hardest part of this process for you these first eight weeks or so since the accident?

Dario Franchitti:
Each stage is a little different. At first, it was the pain in the ankle actually. It then became the head and the issues with that. Then it just became not being able to move, just day after day not being able to go drive a car, not even a street car. I've not been able to obviously go running, you know, any of that stuff.

I read some good books, some good racing books. If you're looking for any recommendations on racing driver's autobiographies, I've got a few. That was one of the stages. Then realising and being told that I wasn't going to be able to race anymore, that was a whole different stage. It's that old thing of you don't know what you've got, right? Pretty quickly I realised how much I was going to miss doing what I do. Just little things like working with engineers, phoning [engineer Chris] Simmons up, giving him a hard time, going in the shop and complaining about my seat.

The guys went testing at Sebring. Luckily Scott was texting me. I got to talk to Tony and Scott afterwards at length, get involved in that process. The next sort of hard part was really when TK got announced in the #10 car. As much as I said before I wanted that to happen, it was the final 'oh, this is real.' So that was tough. It's been little things like phone calls from people along the way. Chip has been really good at picking up the 'phone at different times. The other day he called from the announcement with the #10 car. But little phone calls like that. Any of the guys here on the team picking up the phone, How are you doing? How is it going? Simmons is sitting there. He's been through a fair few crashes in different cars so he understands what you go through. We've had some of those conversations, and he's been really helpful. He retired from racing, too, and went on to achieve all these crazy successes as an engineer. It's been helpful. As I said, a lot of people have helped with little phone calls and stuff.

When you think back to when you were five or six, when you first got the go-kart, to this moment, when you think about that entire journey, how would you summarise everything you accomplished? Is there one specific moment that jumps out at you that was the defining moment to you?

Dario Franchitti:
I think the defining moment, I don't know if you guys would even think about it, it was back in 1991 when Charlie (Kimball) was six, and I was only twelve [laughter], I was racing Vauxhall Junior. It was the last race of the season. I pretty much had to win the championship, and I did. That got me to Jackie Stewart's attention, which started the ball rolling to get me there. Without that, there would have been no here. That was probably one of the defining moments, believe it or not.

How would you summarise your career, your style? Tell me about Dario Franchitti.

Dario Franchitti:
I've had a lot of time on my hands. I've been reading a lot of stuff you guys have written. I've been really touched by the stuff that's been written. I mean, I like what's been written. I've had a lot of fun doing this. As far as the driving, I'm looking forward to a whole different chapter now. There's been some crap days, there's been some pretty devastating days but, for the last I guess almost 30 years, from the first time I raced a go-kart, I had a really good time doing it.

It's an absolute privilege to do it. I think when you get involved with people that kind of feel that way, when they don't feel they're coming to work every day, you're getting to do something that's amazing, you dreamt of doing it as a kid, whether you're a driver, engineer, mechanic, it's pretty cool.”

Related Pictures

Click on relevant pic to enlarge
Dario Franchitti came third in the Pocono IndyCar 400 at Pocono Raceway on Sunday, July 7 2013. (Photo Credit: Brett Kelley for IndyCar Media)
Dario Franchitti celebrates clinching pole position for the GoPro Grand Prix of Sonoma at Sonoma Raceway - Saturday, August 24 2013 (Photo Credit: Chris Jones for IndyCar Media)
Dario Franchitti in action during race 2 of the Shell and Pennzoil Grand Prix of Houston double-header on Sunday, October 6 2013. (Photo Credit: John Cote for IndyCar Media)
Dario Franchitti during the press conference at the Target Chip Ganassi Racing shop. (Photo Credit: Chris Jones for IndyCar Media)
Scott Dixon - Chip Ganassi Indy Car [credit: IndyCar TV Twitter]
Scott Dixon Indy 500
Max Chilton Indy 500 2017
Max Chilton Indy 500 2017
Scott Dixon Indy 500 qualifying
Max Chilton IndyCar 2017
Scott Dixon (Target Chip Ganassi Racing) on his way to victory at Watkins Glen   [pic credit: Indycar media/Chris Owens]
Scott Dixon (Target Chip Ganassi Racing) on his way to pole at Watkins Glen   [pic credit: Indycar media/Chris Owens]
Scott Dixon leads the Indycar field   [pic credit: Indycar media/Bret Kelley]
Scott Dixon - Target Chip Ganassi Racing   [pic credit: IndyCar Media/JOE SKIBINSKI]
Max Chilton, Chip Ganassi, [Credit: Max Chilton PR]
Scott Dixon - Chip Ganassi [credit: IndyCar Series]
Scott Dixon - Chip Ganassi [credit: IndyCar Series]
Scott Dixon is congratulated by Dario Franchitti after winning the 2015 Verizon IndyCar Series Championship. (Photo by: Shawn Gritzmacher for IndyCar Media)

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