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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.
Q:
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.

Q:
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.

Q:
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.

Q:
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.

Q:
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

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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)
Simon Pagenaud, driver of the #22 Avaya Team Penske Chevrolet IndyCar V6, qualifies third fastest Sunday, May 17, 2015, and will start on the outside of the front row for the Verizon IndyCar Series Indianapolis 500 at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway in Indianapolis, Indiana. Pagenaud will be joined in the front row by by polestar Scott Dixon, driver of the #9 Target Chip Ganassi Racing Chevrolet and Will Power, driver of the #1 Verizon Team Penske Chevrolet who qualified second fastest for the May 24 race. (Photo by Michael L. Levitt/LAT for Chevy Racing)
Will Power, driver of the #1 Verizon Team Penske Chevrolet IndyCar V6, qualifies second-fastest Sunday, May 17, 2015, and will start in the middle of the front row for the Verizon IndyCar Series Indianapolis 500 at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway in Indianapolis, Indiana. Power will be joined in the front row by pole sitter Scott Dixon, driver of the #9 Target Chip Ganassi Racing Chevrolet and Simon Pagenaud, driver of the #22 Avaya Team Penske Chevrolet  who qualified third for the May 24 race. (Photo by Scott R. LePage/LAT for Chevy Racing)
Scott Dixon, driver of the #9 Target Chip Ganassi Racing Chevrolet IndyCar V6, celebrates after qualifying fastest Sunday, May 17, 2015, winning the pole for the Verizon IndyCar Series Indianapolis 500 at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway in Indianapolis, Indiana. Dixon will be joined in the front row by Will Power, driver of the #1 Verizon Team Penske Chevrolet who qualified second fastest, and Simon Pagenaud, driver of the #22 Avaya Team Penske Chevrolet  who qualified third for the May 24 race. (Photo by Phillip Abbott/LAT for Chevy Racing)
Scott Dixon, driver of the #9 Target Chip Ganassi Racing Chevrolet IndyCar V6, qualifies fastest Sunday, May 17, 2015, winning the pole for the Verizon IndyCar Series Indianapolis 500 at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway in Indianapolis, Indiana. Dixon will be joined in the front row by Will Power, driver of the #1 Verizon Team Penske Chevrolet who qualified second fastest, and Simon Pagenaud, driver of the #22 Avaya Team Penske Chevrolet  who qualified third for the May 24 race. (Photo by Phillip Abbott/LAT for Chevy Racing)
James Davison chats with Dario Franchitti on pit lane prior to practice for the Indianapolis 500 at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway (Photo by: Joe Skibinski for IndyCar Media)
Scott Dixon, driver of the #9 Target Chip Ganassi Racing Chevrolet IndyCar V6, qualifies second-fastest Friday, May 8, 2015, for Saturday`s Verizon IndyCar Series Grand Prix of Indianapolis on the road course of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway in Indianapolis, Indiana. Dixon will start in the front row with pole-winner Will Power, driver of the #1 Verizon Team Penske Chevrolet IndyCar V6. (Photo by Scott R. LePage/LAT for Chevy Racing)
Scott Dixon, driver of the #9 Coke Chip Ganassi Racing Chevrolet IndyCar V6, races to a third place finish Sunday, April 25, 2015 during the Verizon IndyCar Series Grand Prix of Alabama at Barber Motorsports Park in Birmingham, Alabama. (Photo by Phillip Abbott/LAT for Chevy Racing)
Scott Dixon, driver of the #9 Target Chip Ganassi Racing Chevrolet IndyCar V-6, celebrates his victory Sunday, April 19, 2015 after winning the Verizon IndyCar Series Grand Prix of Long Beach in the streets of Long Beach, California. (Photo by Russell LaBounty/LAT for Chevy Racing)
Chevrolet sweeps the podium as Juan Pablo Montoya (l to r), driver of the #2 Verizon Team Penske Chevrolet V-6 IndyCar; Scott Dixon, driver of the #9 Target Verizon Chip Ganassi Racing Chevrolet V-6 and Helio Castroneves, driver of the #3 Automobile Club of Southern California Team Penske Chevrolet V-6, celebrate Saturday, April 18, 2015 after finishing third, first and second in the Verizon IndyCar Series Grand Prix of Long Beach through the streets of Long Beach, California. (Photo by Russell LaBounty/LAT for Chevy Racing)
Scott Dixon, driver of the #9 Target Chip Ganassi Racing Chevrolet IndyCar V6 pumps his fist as he crosses the finish line, winning the Verizon IndyCar Series Grand Prix of Long Beach on Sunday, April 19, 2015 in the streets of Long Beach, California. (Photo by Phillip Abbott/LAT for Chevy Racing)
Scott Dixon, driver of the #9 Target Chip Ganassi Racing Chevrolet IndyCar V6 races to victory Sunday, April 19, 2015 winning the Verizon IndyCar Series Grand Prix of Long Beach in the streets of Long Beach, California. (Photo by Phillip Abbott/LAT for Chevy Racing)
Tony Kanaan, driver of the #10 NTT Data Chip Ganassi Racing Chevrolet IndyCar V6 races to a sixth-place finish Sunday, April 12, 2015 during the Verizon IndyCar Series Grand Prix of Louisiana at NOLA Motorsports Park in Avondale, Louisiana. (Photo by Russell LaBounty/LAT for Chevy Racing)
Will Power (left), driver of the #1 Verizon Team Penske Chevrolet IndyCar V6; and Tony Kanaan (right), driver of the #10 NTT Data Chip Ganassi Racing Chevrolet IndyCar V6; celebrate with Juan Pablo Montoya, driver of the #2 Verizon Team Penske Chevrolet IndyCar V6, who raced to victory Sunday, March 29, 2015 winning the Verizon IndyCar Series Grand Prix of St. Petersburg in St. Petersburg, Florida. Power finished second. Kanaan finished third. Chevrolet took the top six places in the first race of the season. (Photo by Michael L. Levitt/LAT for Chevy Racing)
Ganassi team mates Scott Dixon and Tony Kanaan talk tactics Graham Rahal during open testing at Barber Motorsport Park on Monday March 16 2015. (Photo by: Chris Owens for IndyCar Media)

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