Retired, three-time Indianapolis 500 winner Dario Franchitti will be this year’s celebrity pace car driver, which will air live on ABC on May 25th. While Franchitti drove a Honda-powered car during his last nine Indy 500 appearances, his pace car will be an all-black Chevrolet Camaro Z/28.
Franchitti confirmed his role in the role this morning on Good Morning America, and commented on the wreck he was involved in at the IndyCar Series race in Houston, which ended his career on October 6th. Franchitti stated that his memory “isn’t what it once was,” and that his broken ankle is “limiting.” Franchitti added, “But I’ll take that. The other options weren’t so good.”
During the Houston race, Franchitti collided with Takuma Sato on the final lap, causing his car to fly into the turn 5 catchfence. The wreck injured 13 fans, and Franchitti suffered a spinal fracture, right ankle fracture and a concussion. After the crash, doctors told Franchitti that he wouldn’t be able to safely race again.
Here’s a clip of the career-ending wreck:
Franchitti, who is presently separated from his wife, actress Ashley Judd, also mentioned that he has signed on as a consultant with his former team, Ganassi Racing, and will work alongside Verizon IndyCar Series drivers Scott Dixon, who is the reigning champion, Tony Kanaan , who won the Indy 500 last year, Charlie Kimball and Ryan Briscoe.
— Dario Franchitti (@dariofranchitti) March 24, 2014
Franchitti will become the 14th former Indy 500 winner to drive the pace car and the second in the past three years. In 2011, Donald Trump was set to do the honors, but backed out due to rampant fan protest. A.J. Foyt took his place at the last minute. Emerson Fittipaldi drove the pace car in 2008.
Image via Wikimedia Commons