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Crash injuries force Franchitti to retire

Fri, 15 Nov 2013

SCOTTISH RACING STAR Dario Franchitti has been forced to retire after suffering a number of injuries in a high-speed crash during a race in the US last month.

The four-time IndyCar series winner spent five days in hospital after suffering concussion, a fractured vertebrae and a broken ankle in the last-lap crash at the Grand Prix of Houston in Texas.

Franchitti, originally from Bathgate, West Lothian, said he had taken the decision based on medical advice.

"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," Franchitti said in a statement on his website posted last night.

"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 40-year-old competed in British racing at the start of his career but moved to the US in 1997 where he won IndyCar racing's top prize, the famous Indianapolis 500, three times.

His cousin is Formula One driver Paul Di Resta and Franchitti's brother Marino is also a racing driver.

In the race last month he collided with Takuma Sato's car on the final lap and was sent crashing into the track wall, sending his car flying into the air.

It came almost two years after British driver Dan Wheldon died in a 15-vehicle crash in the Las Vegas Indy 300 race.

Actress Ashley Judd, who married Franchitti in 2001, though the pair separated earlier this year, rushed to Houston to see him.

He required two operations to repair a bone on his right ankle but did not need surgery on his spine. He was pictured leaving the hospital with a body brace, a cast on his right leg and a walking frame, but was still accompanied by his two dogs.

Franchitti's statement added: "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."

Despite his racing career coming to an end, he said he is determined to remain in the sport in some capacity.

"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," he added.

"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."

By Paul Ward, Press Association