2013 ended horribly for one of the best open wheel racers of his era as Dario Franchitti was involved in a horrifying IndyCar crash in Houston, Texas that ended his competitive driving career and left him laid up in a hospital for weeks on end with a myriad of serious injuries. It was not the way Franchitti’s careeer was supposed to end. When a guy wins the Indy 500 three times and was a series champion four times, things like that aren’t part of the script. We can still remember watching the awesome story told on the Indy 500 broadcast last year of Franchitti’s dad finding the first pedal car that he gave to his son and restoring it, surprising Dario with it in the race garage one day. It was emotional and it spoke to the love that Dario had for the sport. Obviously, that love doesn’t go away when a doctor tells you that you cannot race competitively anymore. Cue Chevrolet.
Franchitti has been named the driver of the pace car at the 2014 Indy 500 which will be a new Camaro Z/28, which is pretty bitchin’. As I have said about three million times over the years here, I do not consider myself an open wheel racing fan but I do consider myself an Indy 500 fan. I love the race, the spectacle of the whole thing, the history behind it, and what it means (to me the beginning of summer). Not that the pace car is a huge deal, but let’s face it, the new Z/28 is way cooler than some pile a foreign company would send along or a Corvette with purple paint and yellow wheels (those still give me nightmares).
While it certainly isn’t “racing” as Dario would like it to be, we’re guessing that there will be a small bit of satisfaction as he “leads” the field once again around the famed Indianapolis Motor Speedway for more laps, although this time his head won’t be out in the breeze, it’ll be safely situated inside a new Z/28. Dario remains at Chip Ganassi Racing and will work to develop new talent for the team. His is a story of tenacity and one that any young racer out there should look to on their own path to success.
SCROLL DOWN BELOW THE PHOTO FOR THE WHOLE STORY ON DARIO’S NEW ROLE AT GANASSI RACING AND HIS “JOB” IN THE PACE CAR –