In a terrifying wreck at Sunday's Shell-Penzoil Grand Prix of Houston, four-time IndyCar series champion Dario Franchitti was seriously injured, fracturing two vertebrae, breaking his right ankle and sustaining a concussion. Wreckage flew into the stands nearby, injuring 13 fans. Eleven fans were treated on-site, and the remaining two were taken to hospitals with minor injuries.
On the final lap of the race, Franchitti and Takuma Sato got tangled up in Turn 5, with Franchitti clipping Sato's back wheel and spinning into the catch fence. EJ Viso, trailing, was able to avoid the wreckage of Franchitti's car but hit Sato. The race was halted, and Will Power was declared the winner in a muted celebration.
For a long time, the television cameras only carried distant shots of Franchitti's wreckage, leading to obvious concerns. But Franchitti's team owner, Chip Ganassi, soon brought good news after visiting with Franchitti. "He's got a sore ankle and back," Ganassi said, "but he's OK."
Franchitti underwent surgery Sunday night to stabilize the ankle. He is expected to remain in Houston for "a few days," according to a team report, "at which time he will be transported to Indianapolis for further evaluation.
"Thank you to everyone for all the well wishes. They mean a lot to me," Franchitti said in a statement. "I would also like to send my best to all the fans involved in the accident and hope that everyone is alright."
The wreck occurred almost two years to the day that Dan Wheldon died in a wreck in Las Vegas, a tragedy where almost every driver in Houston was present. “The smells and the visuals, for me, and even talking to Will [Power], you have the remnants of Vegas popping into your head with you coming around the corner and you can't drive through it because there's a field of debris,” Scott Dixon said. “There was no near the amount of damage that we saw [in 2011], but seeing the replay was a big shock.”
The replay is above. Below, a fan video of the wreck:
Clearly, as painful as this was, it could have been so, so much worse.
- Sports & Recreation
- Motor Racing
- Dario Franchitti
- Takuma Sato