Dario Franchitti crash: ex-wife Ashley Judd visits

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BATHGATE IndyCar racing driver Dario Franchitti has been visited by his estranged wife, actress Ashley Judd, as he recovers from surgery after a horror crash at the IndyCar Series Grand Prix of Houston.

Franchitti, 40, underwent surgery on Monday to stabilise a fracture to his right ankle, hours after being admitted awake and alert to Memorial Hermann Texas Medical Center also suffering from a spinal fracture and concussion.

Safety team members work to remove Dario Franchitti. Picture: AP

Safety team members work to remove Dario Franchitti. Picture: AP

The Target Chip Ganassi Racing driver is to remain in Houston for several days before being moved to Indianapolis for further evaluation.

Franchitti said in a statement released by his team: “Thank you to everyone for all the well wishes.

“They mean a lot to me. I would also like to send my best to all the fans involved in the accident and hope that everyone is alright.”

IndyCar said in a statement: “Our thoughts remain with everyone affected by yesterday’s accident.

A number of British sports stars sent goodwill messages to Franchitti, including Wimbledon winner Andy Murray.

The Dunblane-born tennis star said he hoped “you and all the fans injured in the crash are doing good and you make a speedy recovery Dario.”

Debris from the accident flew over the fencing, injuring 13 spectators and race officials.

But most The were believed to have been injured by a piece of the catch fencing that was knocked loose into the nearby grandstand, rather than parts of the car itself.

Paramedics spent several minutes extracting the Scot from the wreckage of his car and put him on a spinal board before taking him to a waiting ambulance.

Franchitti’s wife, actress Ashley rushed to Franchitti’s side after the accident and thanked fans for their support.

She said: “Thank you for the prayers. I have only clothes on my back and the dogs, but that’s all we need and we are on our way”.

Judd was a fixture at NASCAR races while Franchitti was racing there, as she has been throughout his IndyCar career.

The racing star and Judd announced their separation in January and there have been no announcements of a reconciliation, but they remain friends .

Franchitti, who has won the Indy Car Series championship four times is a three-time Indianapolis 500 winner,

Team owner, Chip Ganassi, said the Scot was talking, but added: “His ankle is a little sore. His back is a little sore, but he is okay.”

The race ace’s brother Marino, who also races in America and was at the hospital, said: “Thanks for all the kind messages. Hope everyone in the crowd is okay.”

The crash on Sunday happened almost two years after Britain’s Dan Wheldon - one of Franchitti’s best friends - was killed when his car also became airborne and was thrown into catch-fencing. America has a poor record for spectator safety at race tracks. Earlier this year, almost 30 fans were injured at the Daytona International Speedway when a 10-car crash sent debris, including a tyre, into the crowd during the final lap of a Nascar race.