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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)
Chevrolet sweeps the podium with winner Mike Conway (center), driver of the #20 Fuzzy`s Ultra Premium Vodka / Ed Carpenter Racing Chevrolet IndyCar V6, celebrating his victory Sunday, July 20, 2014 during the second of two IndyCar Series races through the streets of Exhibition Place, in Toronto, Canada. Tony Kanaan (left), driver of the #10 Target Chip Ganassi Racing Chevrolet celebrates his second-place finish. Will Power, driver of the #12 Verizon Team Penske Chevrolet celebrates his third-place finish. (Photo by Phillip Abbott/LAT for Chevy Racing)
Chevy Racing sweeps the podium with race winner Sebastien Bourdais (center), driver of the #11 Hydroxycut KVC Racing Technology Chevrolet IndyCar V6, celebrating his victory Sunday, July 20, 2014 during the first of two IndyCar Series races in Toronto, Canada. Second-place finisher Helio Castroneves (left), driver of the #3 PPV Automotive Refinish Team Penske Chevrolet, and third-place finisher Tony Kanaan, driver of the #10 Target Chip Ganassi Racing Chevrolet, join the celebration. (Photo by Phillip Abbott/LAT for Chevy Racing)
Tony Kanaan, driver of the #10 TNT Energy Drink Ganassi Racing Chevrolet V6, races to a third-place finish Saturday, July 12, 2014 at the Iowa Speedway in Newton, Iowa. Helio Castroneves, driver of the #3 Verizon Team Penske Chevrolet V6, takes over the championship points lead with an eighth-place finish. (Photo by Phillip Abbott/LAT for Chevy Racing)
Scott Dixon, driver of the #9 Target Chip Ganassi Racing Chevrolet IndyCar V6, races teammate Tony Kanaan, driver of the #10 TNT Energy Drink Ganassi Racing Chevrolet V6, Saturday, July 12, 2014 at the Iowa Speedway in Newton, Iowa. Dixon won the pole and finished in fourth-place. Kanaan led for most of the race and finished third. (Photo by Phillip Abbott/LAT for Chevy Racing)
Ryan Briscoe (left), driver of the #8 NTT Data Chip Ganassi Racing Chevrolet IndyCar V6, talks with teammate Tony Kanaan, driver of the #10 TNT Energy Drink Ganassi Racing Chevrolet V6, during qualifying Friday, July 11, 2014 for Saturday`s race at the Iowa Speedway in Newton, Iowa. Briscoe qualified fourth, Kanaan second and teammate Scott Dixon, driver of the #9 Target Chip Ganassi Racing Chevrolet IndyCar V6 won the pole. (Photo by Phillip Abbott/LAT for Chevy Racing)
Scott Dixon, driver of the #9 Target Chip Ganassi Racing Chevrolet IndyCar V6 celebrates winning the pole Friday, July 11, 2014 for Saturday`s race at the Iowa Speedway in Newton, Iowa. Dixon will start in the front row with teammate Tony Kanaan, driver of the #10 TNT Energy Drink Ganassi Racing Chevrolet V6, who qualified second. (Photo by Phillip Abbott/LAT for Chevy Racing)
Scott Dixon, driver of the #9 Target Chip Ganassi Racing Chevrolet IndyCar V6 wins the pole Friday, July 11, 2014 for Saturday`s race at the Iowa Speedway in Newton, Iowa. Dixon will start in the front row with teammate Tony Kanaan, driver of the #10 TNT Energy Drink Ganassi Racing Chevrolet V6, who qualified second. (Photo by Phillip Abbott/LAT for Chevy Racing)
Johnny Rutherford speaks with official pace car driver Dario Franchitti (Photo by: Dana Garrett for IndyCar Media)
Chip Ganassi (Photo by: Eric Anderson for IndyCar Media)
Chip Ganassi speaks with Sage Karam (Photo by: Shawn Gritzmacher for IndyCar Media)
Dario Franchitti and Tony Kanaan on Monday at practice for the Indianapolis 500. (Photo by: Chris Owens for IndyCar Media)
Ryan Briscoe, driver of the #8 NTT Data Chip Ganassi Racing Chevrolet IndyCar V6, races to a sixth-place finish Saturday, May 10, 2014 during the inaugural Grand Prix of Indianapolis in Indianapolis, Indiana. (Photo by Michael L. Levitt for Chevy Racing)
Chevrolet Racing introduces the 2014 Chevrolet Camaro Z/28 Indianapolis 500 pace car Tuesday, March 25, 2014. Three-time Indianapolis 500 winner Dario Franchitti will drive the Camaro Z/28 to pace the 98th running of the race on May 25. It’s the eighth time a Camaro has been the pace car, starting in 1967 – and the 25th time a Chevrolet has paced the race. The 2014 Camaro Z/28 is the most track-capable model in its history, building on the legacy of the original SCCA Trans Am-series contender introduced in 1967. (Photo Courtesy of IMS Photography for Chevy Racing)
Chevrolet Racing introduces the 2014 Chevrolet Camaro Z/28 Indianapolis 500 pace car Tuesday, March 25, 2014. Three-time Indianapolis 500 winner Dario Franchitti will drive the Camaro Z/28 to pace the 98th running of the race on May 25. It’s the eighth time a Camaro has been the pace car, starting in 1967 – and the 25th time a Chevrolet has paced the race. The 2014 Camaro Z/28 is the most track-capable model in its history, building on the legacy of the original SCCA Trans Am-series contender introduced in 1967. (Photo Courtesy of IMS Photography for Chevy Racing)

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