FRANCHITTI TALKS INDY 500 SIGNIFICANCE, LEGACY
Bruce Martin, SI.com
INDIANAPOLIS -- With race day for the 100th anniversary of the Indianapolis 500 just around the corner, Dario Franchitti discussed with SI.com the significance of the World's Greatest Race.
SI.com: How has this race stood the test of time for the last 100 years?
Dario Franchitti -- "I don't know about the early days but the years that I'm familiar with, starting from the 1960s to today, it has to do with what guys like Bobby Unser and A.J. Foyt did to build it up. Look at qualifying this year -- the emotion and the drama. It's one of those things that are successful. It was successful when it was built and it has built upon that success."
SI.com: What is it about this race that cannot be duplicated?
Franchitti -- "People have tried but you cannot duplicate it. Why is the Kentucky Derby the Kentucky Derby? It's an organic thing. You can't manufacture it. It either works or it doesn't. You see that with the Indy 500. It is clearly something unbelievably special."
SI.com: What is your favorite Indy 500 memory?
Franchitti-- "The two wins. The first was very, very special because it was the first. Trust me, I felt when I won it once that was it. So when I got back and got to win it again that was a great feeling. There were times for me where the most special times were running up front and leading the pack. The feeling of doing that is amazing. I came back here in 2009 and was running around the front and that was a great feeling."
SI.com: How important was this race in terms of innovation for the automotive industry?
Franchitti-- "It's been massive. I would like to see it return to that and I think with these new regulations we will see that with the turbochargers again and engine competition. Nothing speeds up advances in technology more than racing, so I would love to see it get back to that as well. Engine, tire technology, aerodynamics, safety -- it's all been because of the Indianapolis 500."
SI.com: How does it change a driver or team owner's career to win the Indy 500?
Franchitti -- "For me one of the things I really wanted to achieve was to win the Indianapolis 500. To get it done was a great feeling of satisfaction. To win it a second time, the connection with the fans is what really changed the most."
SI.com: This race has always had its share of controversy. Is that part of its allure?
Franchitti -- "Because it means so much to win this you get controversy. The year that Paul Tracy won it in 2002 and it was taken away from him, that was very tough. But as long as this race has been run there has been controversy because of what is at stake."
SI.com: What do you think is the most memorable achievement in the history of the Indy 500?
Franchitti -- "In a big scale, the drivers that have won it four times to me is `Wow.' But I think any person that has made this race, that to me is a big deal. Ashley [Judd, his wife] said don't belittle the people who are struggling to make the race on Bump Day, because it means so much to get in. Just to get into this race is a big deal. All through history guys have climbed into these cars just to get into this race. For every A.J. Foyt who has won four times, there is a guy that just missed the show."