FRANCHITTI WOWS SCOTTISH MOTOR RACING CLUB
Dario Franchitti wows Scottish Motor Racing Club meeting at Knockhill
Franchitti takes his mum for a spin in Aston Martin
By JON DORAN I October 10, 2012
INDYCAR superstar DARIO FRANCHITTI produced the mother of all drives in an Aston Martin at Knockhill on Sunday.
Franchitti was a special guest for the Scottish Motor Racing Club meeting and spent hours chatting to fans and signing autographs. But the highlight of his day was getting to take mum MARINA for a high-octane trip round the Fife track. He laughed: “The last time she did one of these was with my brother MARINO at Goodwood and he was pulling 140mph past the house.”
But mum was seriously impressed as Franchitti cranked up the speed on the two-lap run. She admitted: “It was a bit slower than going up the hill at Goodwood. It was good fun and it gives you a good idea of what it is like for the drivers. I’ve never had that before. When you are watching from the side, it’s different.”
Franchitti added: “GRAHAM BRUNTON was good enough to lend me the Aston that he uses for hot laps on the track. “I was surprised at how much fun it was to drive. I took three of the marshals out and then my mum. “I didn’t know I would be doing it. MIKE HOW asked if I would do it, we asked Graham and off we went.”
Hundreds of fans turned out just to see Franchitti and the 1999 Kool car that won at Surfer’s Paradise in Australia, and the Bathgate ace didn’t disappoint. The four-time IndyCar champ posed for thousands of pictures and must have had cramp after signing so many autographs. But he insisted it had been a real treat to come back to see old friends, meet fans and watch some racing, including big pal RAYMOND BOYD who clinched the D class in the Classic Sports and Saloons. He said: “It’s always fun coming to a race circuit, but especially to Knockhill with the SMRC. There are a lot of friends, so it’s fun to be here and fun to watch the racing — everything from the Formula Fords, the Legends, the Classics. “It has been great to meet all the marshals and it has been a really nice reaction from people coming to the track. The Scottish race fans have been really good to me. It is nice to get a chance to chat with them for a little bit.”
Amazingly, during his stellar career Franchitti admitted he never tamed Knockhill. He said: “The track has changed a bit — they have made it more racy. “I never did well here in any of the races I did in the Vauxhall Lotus. I did two years in 1992 and 93. I didn’t do particularly well which was a bit of a hole in my CV.”
Franchitti has certainly produced his own fair share of good racing as he has won three IndyCar titles on the trot. He added his third Indianapolis 500 win earlier this year, but a string of disappointing results meant he finished the year in seventh place. But he insisted 2012 could only be considered a success.
He said: “Any year that you win Indianapolis is a good year. So the team and myself can be very proud of what we did, especially coming from the back and winning it the way we did. “But the season as a whole was tough with the ups and downs. Someone told me the other day that I had the best qualifying average of any driver. “We just didn’t manage to turn it into results for many, many different reasons. We need to get to the bottom of those before next season. “The expectations were high because you have won it in the previous three years and SCOTT DIXON had won it the year before that. The fact that we finished seventh in the championship was tough. But, with the results we had and the performances we had, we didn’t deserve better than that.”
And Franchitti — who is testing later this week with Level 5 for the October 20 Petit Le Mans endurance event in the States where he will drive alongside brother Marino — is quick to scotch any talk that he might be considering hanging up the helmet. He wants to be back next season fighting for his fifth title. He added: “The retirement thing continues to get asked, especially as I will be 40 next year, but the thing for me is enjoyment. “When the speed starts tailing off I will definitely be going, but we got the highest qualifying average this year so it proves I am doing something right. The speed is still there and the enjoyment is still there so it will be a while yet. “It also depends on the team — if they want to continue and if I want to continue doing it. There are two sides to it.”
Our rookie shows her roar talent. Franchitti watched The Scottish Sun rookie racer at Knockhill and admitted being a LION TAMER would have been an easier job. Franchitti took time out to watch CHRISTIE DORAN in action and was left stunned by her performance in the Triumph TR8. The teenager piled up enough points to finish second in class behind eventual winner ANDY SMITH and secured tenth place overall out of 40 in her first ever racing season.
Franchitti said: “I thought she did very well to hang on to that beast of a car you have put her in. You could have got her a job as a lion tamer at Edinburgh Zoo. “Maybe next year you could get her something tamer to drive. To control that thing — just to keep it on the black stuff — she has really learned a hell of a lot. When she goes into something in a different class, it will be easier. “That is one of the toughest cars in any of the classes here so fair play to her for doing that.”
The rookie was delighted with her performance, although a heart-breaking clutch problem on the final lap meant she missed out on saying thanks to the marshals and fans who have sent hundreds of messages of support throughout the year. She said: “It has been brilliant. There were plenty of tough times and the car has a mind of its own in the wet but I was so proud to go quicker in almost every meeting. “I have learned a lot and getting second in class isn’t bad for someone with no race experience. Hopefully it shows that you can take part if you want to. There are no barriers and you will have a great time. “I also hope I have repaid the faith shown in me by the TR8 Squadron. They did a great job with the car all season and I hope they are proud of me. The other drivers were also great.”
For the first time in SMRC history, the title was shared between SMITH and ROBERT MARSHALL. Marshall admitted: “It has been a fantastic season thanks to Andy — he has been a great competitor and I thoroughly enjoyed doing it.” Smith added: “I nearly had the car off on the first lap, which would have blown it, but I pulled it back together and managed to keep it going. “It’s great, but well done to all the guys who turned out during the year.”
The other class winners were KIERON BAILLIE, NIC BOYES and RAYMOND BOYD.