Dario Franchitti

Full Name:
George Dario Marino Franchitti
Born:
19th May 1973 (Age 44)
Edinburgh, Scotland
Nationality:
British
Most recent race (in database):
Biography

Dario Franchitti wanted for little as he entered 2007. A race winner in Champ Cars and then the Indy Racing League, married to Hollywood star Ashley Judd and a millionaire in his own right. But his racing career so far lacked major championship success and America’s greatest prize of all.

Background and early racing career

The son of a former national competitor, Franchitti was a champion in karts on both sides of the Scottish border from 1984. That success continued in his first season racing cars with the 1991 Vauxhall Junior title. He joined Paul Stewart Racing and added the following year’s McLaren Autosport BRDC Award for up-and-coming British talent to confirm that promise. 1993 Formula Vauxhall Champion, he graduated to British Formula 3 a year later but was only fourth as PSR team-mate Jan Magnussen dominated.

Impressive Champ Car introduction

Adopted by Mercedes-Benz as a star of the future, Franchitti spent the next two seasons in the expanded and now international DTM series. His success in those powerful saloons (third in the 1995 standings and fourth a year later) was rewarded by a Mercedes-funded drive in Champ Cars. He impressed in Carl Hogan’s Reynard 97I-Mercedes during 1997 by qualifying on pole position at Toronto and the Scot would have won his sixth race at St Louis but for transmission failure.

But Franchitti incensed Mercedes’ management by defecting to Honda and Team Kool Green for 1998. That decision was vindicated by race victories and all-but winning the 1999 Champ Car World Series. He tied Juan Pablo Montoya’s points tally but lost the title due to scoring fewer wins than the Colombian.

The closest he came to racing in Formula 1 was tests for Jaguar Racing at Silverstone and Jerez in 2000 but he decided to remain in America. A renowned road racer, Franchitti scored his first oval victory on British soil – winning the 2002 Champ Car race at Northamptonshire’s Rockingham Motor Speedway.

The American open-wheel community was split at the time and his team moved to the rival Indy Racing League with Michael Andretti now co-owner. A back injury curtailed Franchitti’s 2003 campaign after just three races but he remained with Andretti Green Racing for another four seasons – winning races and finishing fourth in the 2005 standings.

Indy 500 and title success for Andretti Green

Franchitti’s finest campaign so far came in 2007 with victories in both the Indianapolis 500 and IndyCar Series. He was ahead of the field when rain forced officials at the Brickyard to declare a result after 166 of the 200 laps – Franchitti thus emulating his hero Jim Clark’s 1965 victory. He then took advantage when championship rival Scott Dixon ran out of fuel on the last lap of the final round at Chicagoland. He swept past to win and clinch his first Indycar title in the most dramatic of conclusions.

That season had included two mammoth accidents and a coming together with Marco Andretti, team-mate and son of team owner, at Sears Point. The latter prompted a public war of words with Michael Andretti and Franchitti joined Chip Ganassi’s NASCAR team for 2008.

NASCAR and return to IndyCar

It proved an unhappy diversion as he struggled to adapt among stock car racing’s elite so he soon returned to Indycars with Ganassi. A frontrunner once more, Franchitti won the 2009 title in a three-way decider at Homestead after a canny, fuel-saving race as rivals Scott Dixon and Ryan Briscoe went at it hammer and tongs. Franchitti dominated the 2010 Indianapolis 500 before winning the Indycar title that year and the next.

It was a mark of his recent form that "just" winning the Indy 500 represented a disappointing return from 2012. Only seventh in the championship despite qualifying on pole for four mid-season races in a row, he withstood being spun in the pitlane by E.J.Viso and Takuma Satō’s last-lap attempt to pass to win at Indianapolis once more.

Now a three-time winner at the Brickyard and Britain’s most successful driver in American open-wheel racing history, Franchitti survived a huge accident at Houston in 2013 and decided it was time to retire from the sport.

Championship seasons

Season Name Starts Poles Podiums Wins Position Points
2013 IZOD IndyCar Series
Chip Ganassi Racing Team
18 3 4 0
0% win rate
10th 418
2012 IZOD IndyCar Series
Chip Ganassi Racing Team
15 4 4 1
7% win rate
7th 363
2011 IZOD IndyCar Series
Chip Ganassi Racing Team
17 2 9 4
24% win rate
1st 573
2010 IZOD IndyCar Series
Chip Ganassi Racing Team
17 2 10 3
18% win rate
1st 602
2009 IRL IndyCar Series
Chip Ganassi Racing Team
17 5 9 5
30% win rate
1st 616
2008 Grand American Rolex Sports Car Series
Chip Ganassi Racing Team
1 0 1 1 0
2008 Sprint Cup 49th 606
2007 IRL IndyCar Series
Andretti Green Racing
17 4 11 4
24% win rate
1st 637
2006 IRL IndyCar Series
Andretti Green Racing
13 1 2 0
0% win rate
8th 311
2005 IRL IndyCar Series
Andretti Green Racing
17 1 6 2
12% win rate
4th 498
2004 IRL IndyCar Series
Andretti Green Racing
16 1 4 2
13% win rate
6th 409
2003 IRL IndyCar Series
Andretti Green Racing
3 0 0 0
0% win rate
25th 72
2002 FedEx Championship Series
Team Green
19 1 7 3
16% win rate
4th 148
2002 Indy Racing League
Team Green
1 0 0 0
0% win rate
44th 11
2001 FedEx Championship Series
Team Green
20 (1) 0 4 1
5% win rate
7th 105
2000 FedEx Championship Series
Team Green
20 2 4 0
0% win rate
13th 92
1999 FedEx Championship Series
Team Green
20 2 11 3
15% win rate
2nd 212
1998 FedEx Championship Series
Team Green
19 5 6 3
16% win rate
3rd 160
1997 PPG CART World Series
Hogan Racing
16 1 0 0
0% win rate
20th 10
1996 International Touring Car Series
AMG Mercedes
25 (1) 1 8 1
4% win rate
4th 171
1995 International Touring Car Series
AMG Mercedes
8 (2) 0 4 1
13% win rate
3rd 80
1995 Deutsche Tourenwagen Meisterschaft
AMG Mercedes
12 4 4 0
0% win rate
5th 74

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