DARIO FRANCHITTI'S FAST-PACED LIFE
August 25th, 2012
Dario Franchitti leaped up from the lunch table at McCormick and Kuleto's in Ghirardelli Square and bolted for the large, plate-glass window that provided a view of the catamarans competing in the America's Cup World Series.
"Awww man! Look at that!" the three-time defending IndyCar series champion said, whipping out his iPhone 4S to capture the moment.
When he returns to the table, he talks about his last race win. No, not the Indianapolis 500, which he won for the third time in May. But last month's win in his native Scotland - in a yacht. Yes, Franchitti races those, too.
"It's pretty low-level stuff," Franchitti said. "It's my buddy's boat, a 41-footer, mono hull. It was a five-day race, and we won our class the first day. ... I don't want to get too carried away, get too competitive with it and spoil the fun that we have. It's with a bunch of guys I went to school with, who come to Indy every year. We just have a riot."
It certainly comes as no surprise that a champion driver has competitive instincts that carry beyond the racetrack, but it was still fun to hear Franchitti talk passionately of cars, boats, bicycles ("I used to cycle across the Golden Gate. The wind almost blew me off") and his love of James Bond movies (favorite Bond? "Sean Connery - come on! Unofficial king of Scotland!") over lunch to promote Sunday's Indy Grand Prix of Sonoma.
Franchitti won't win a fourth consecutive series points title. In eighth place with three races to go, he said he's "realistically out of it," and will concentrate on helping Target Chip Ganassi Racing teammate Scott Dixon, who is in fourth place, try to catch current points leader Will Power. Dixon qualified fifth Saturday and Franchitti sixth as Power, who is going for three wins in a row at Sonoma, won the pole. Only 29 points separate the top four drivers; Ryan Hunter-Reay is second and Helio Castroneves third.
"Finishing as well as I can is the best way to help Scott," said Franchitti, who won at Sonoma Raceway in 2009. "I'll just do my usual thing, and if a point comes in the race where I can help him, I absolutely will. But the best way I can do that is to be at the front or close to the front. ... That was something Scott was able to do for me the last few years."
Franchitti, like the other IndyCar drivers, was at Sonoma a week ahead of time for a test session to get used to the modified layout. But his favorite turn at the raceway remains unchanged: the tight, g-force-crushing "carousel" in turn 6.
"You're probably in that corner for four seconds," he said. "For those four seconds, your head's weighing about 50 pounds. We did all these calculations the other day. Your head weighs 50 pounds. Your arms are like swinging a 35-pound dumbbell on each hand. And fighting and holding that position for four seconds and you can't breathe. And you have to think about the twisting effect that's having on your spine."
This is his idea of fun.
After the testing session, Franchitti took a busman's holiday to Laguna Seca to watch the historic cars race in the Monterey Motorsports Reunion last weekend.
"I just drove a 1991 F40," said Franchitti, a collector of vintage Ferraris and Porsches (he won't say how many he has). "I've just been immersed in cars in the last week. I love Ferraris, but I really have a soft spot for Porsches. Two days ago, I got to drive one of my dream Porsches - definitely one of my top three of all-time: a 911 Carrera, 2.8 RSR. A '73. It ran at Sebring the year I was born."
Franchitti broke out the iPhone again to show off his video of him driving it. Nice.
So what does he do when he's at home in Nashville, where he lives with his wife, actress Ashley Judd? "Chill out," he said. "Look at old cars. Play with my cars. Go sailing."