Friday, December 9, 2022

RETRO: Remembering Dario franchitti’s Most controversial Indy 500 Win

Y’all know, the race that made  the following motto famous: No Attack, No chance!


Earlier this year when “Watching,” Err listening to Marshall Pruett’s great video remembering Greg Moore 20 years later. With Dario Franchitti, Max Papis and Paul Tracy reminiscing over the exploits of their Fallen driver. Dario made a comment which I’d Heard before, but forgotten.


As Franchitti noted how He had been watching CART/IndyCar with Norbert Haug and said Who is this guy! In regards to Greg Moore. For which Haug was then Head of Mercedes-Benz Motorsports, for which I always forget that Dario was once a contracted Mercedes Driver, albeit in tintops’, and Not single Seaters…


As Greg Moore, who drove His entire CART/IndyCar career for Players Forsythe Racing, competed in only Mercedes-Benz powered equipment between 1996-1999. And like Dario says, the Mercedes-Benz’s were Underpowered during the ’98 CART/IndyCar campaign. Which is Funny, since Dario, Max and Paul All elude to how difficult it was driving those Nasty, Narly 900+ Horsepower Bucking Bronc CART chassis!


And although I’m now well aware that Dario “REO Speedwagon” Franchitti, whom I later took to calling Dashley LePew’ for several years! Was a Rookie in Championship Auto Racing Teams (CART) for Hogan Racing in 1997.


Yet Dashley’ Didn’t come onto my radar until ’98 when He drove for Team Kool Green alongside Mr. Chrome Horn, aka Paul Tracy. Where I always felt that Dario gave Pt’ Fits! As Dario finished third Overall that season with three wins before finishing Runner-up to Juan Pablo Montoya in 1999. As Montoya won on Tiebreaker with seven wins vs. Dario’s two.


George Dario Marino Franchitti was born on May 19, 1973 in Bathgate, Scotland. And Hence will celebrate His 50th Birthday this upcoming May, possibly at Mother Speedway?


As Dario was a Bad Arse in Go Karts, winning the 1984 Scottish Junior, 1985-1986 British Junior and 1988 Scottish Senior Karting Championships before graduating to the Formula Vauxhall Jr. Single Seater series, where He won the Championship in 1991.


Franchitti then joined Paul Stewart Racing in ’92 and won the Formula Vauxhall Lotus title in 1993 before moving up to British Formula 3. Yet following the ’94 British F3 season, Franchitti was dropped by Paul Stewart Racing and became a Werks’ AMG Racing Driver in the Deutsche Touren Wagen series, along with the International Touring Car (ITC) series behind the wheel of a Mercedes C-Class Saloon for two seasons before Mercedes placed Him at Hogan Racing.


And although Dario made His Indianapolis 500 Debut twenty years ago for Team Kool Green, I’m afraid I paid Him No Attenzione as a Rookie. Especially since I was a Diehard CART loyalist and feverishly rootin’ Against HULIO’, whom ‘Ol Sugar Ray Tracy still Swears Stole the 2002 Indy 500 victory away from Him!


Franchitti joined the Indy Lacing League (IRL) Fulltime in ’03, what I was then feverishly calling the Indy Retirement League! When Mikey A’, who’d bought majority control of what became Andretti Green Racing, moved the team to the Death Star IRL! And being a Champ Car Devotee, I only paid scant attention to the IRL during some Oval race during the Month of May…


Yet I know I was quite Happy when Dario won the first of His three eventual Indianapolis 500’s during the Rain shortened 2007 race. Although I remember that race more vividly for the cameras zooming in on then wife Ashley Judd skipping Jubilantly down Pitlane in the soaking rain after Dario’s victory!


Next Dario tried unwisely becoming a Roundy Round Taxicab Bombers Rasser’ the following year. Although His Cup career was Short lived, partially due to His breaking an Ankle


Thus returning to today’s IndyCar series a year after it’s Mergification, Franchitti soon became known as the aforementioned Dashley LePew’ due to being the Target Chip Ganassi Racing Scourge who continuously Defeated DJ WillyP’, nee Will Power for the Championship each year! Since I was a Huge Power Fan then.


Whilst the late Justin BIG UNIT’ Wilson was my Numero Uno IndyCar Driver and How Dare Dashley make El Stupidio Quips Against Him!


And although I’m certain I watched His second Indy 500 win on Ye Telie’. Instead that year, I chose to attend the 2010 MotoGP over the 500 in what I turned into my own version of celebrating Mother Speedway’s first two Centennials, i.e.; 2009-2010-2011.


As I had to watch the 2010 Indy 500 Highlights to remember before the Chequered Flag flew, that Mike “Ice Ice, Baby!” Conway was involved in that Horrendous accident when colliding with The Dude! Aka Ryan Hunter-Reay’s running Out of fuel racecar!


Now a decade later, my memories of the 2012 Indianapolis 500 are naturally somewhat fleeting. As it’s hard to believe it’s over ten years ago when I saw Doctor Who’, aka Tim Wardrop for the last time. When Tim was Race Engineer for whom I took to playfully anointing “Mean Jean” Alesi in the Luddi’, Uhm Powered by Judd Lotus lumps Dallara DW12! Which sadly, quickly became the laughing stock of IndyCar for being woefully underpowered As I miss my yearly Chinwag’s with Dr. Who at the long forgotten IMS Flagroom Bar!


And besides the delayed wafting of tyre smoke filling the Stands, we all know the outcome of that race. For which I believe I was seated in Turn-1. And I Don’t begrudge Dario for what He did to Taku-san’, aka Takuma Sato, since after all they were fighting to win the Indy 500! As I now just believe that Dario “Squeezed” Sato towards the Wall. But this is the only time I’ve ever Heard an audible, vehement Booing of an Indianapolis 500 winner on the race’s Cool Down lap!


As little did anyone, especially Dario know that would be His final IndyCar victory. As I last saw Franchitti racing in person at the following year’s Indy 500, when He caused the race’s final Caution that  cemented Tony Kanaan’s win!


And then there was that Uber Nasty accident at Houston’s Reliant stadium! As I can still being able to see Dario’s racecar going somewhat vertical in the Sky as He Flew Up, Up and Away into the Catch Fencing! Which Dario was super lucky to get away with twice! Since I recall Him Summersaulting over the Hapless, unsuspecting “Sofa King,” nee Kosuke Matsuura after having lost count of the final lap at Kentucky, and careened off of Kosuke’s rear wheel in what Marty Reid described as a Hydroplane Blow Over!


Thus wisely, Franchitti took His Doctor’s Medical Advice seriously and retired from racing in November, 2013…


As Dario retired from Indy Cars with 265 Starts, 31 Wins, 91 Podiums and 34 Poles. Along with being a Four times IndyCar Champion (2007, 2009-2011) and Three times Indianapolis  500 winner. Which Ain’t too shabby, Eh!