MOTOR racing star Dario Franchitti has been forced to retire from racing on medical advice.
The announcement from the Bathgate-born IndyCar driver followed an injury he suffered at the Grand Prix of Houston last month.
The three-time Indy 500 winner spent five days in hospital after suffering multiple bone fractures in a spectacular last-lap crash in the race.
“One month removed from the crash and based upon the expert advice of the doctors who have treated and assessed my head and spinal injuries post accident, it is their best medical opinion that I must stop racing,” Franchitti said in a statement on his website.
He added: “They have made it very clear that the risks involved in further racing are too great and could be detrimental to my long term well-being.
“Based on this medical advice, I have no choice but to stop.”
Franchitti was forced to undergo two operations to repair a bone on his right ankle.
The 40-year-old Target Chip Ganassi Racing driver was sent crashing into the track wall, with his car flying into the air, after a collision with Takuma Sato.
“Racing has been my life for over 30 years and it’s really tough to think that the driving side is now over,” said Franchitti, who also suffered a concussion and fractured vertebrae in the crash that did not require surgery.
“I was really looking forward to the 2014 season with Target Chip Ganassi Racing, with a goal of winning a fourth Indianapolis 500 and a fifth IndyCar Series championship.”
Despite his racing career coming to an end, Franchitti is determined to remain in the sport in some capacity.
“I’ll forever look back on my time racing in CART and the IndyCar Series with fond memories and the relationships I’ve forged in the sport will last a lifetime,” he added.
“Hopefully in time, I’ll be able to continue in some off-track capacity with the IndyCar Series. I love open-wheel racing and I want to see it succeed.
“I’ll be working with Chip to see how I can stay involved with the team, and with all the amazing friends I’ve made over the years at Target.”
FRANCHITTI’S RISE TO FAME
Born on May 19, 1973 in Bathgate, Dario Franchitti is the most successful Scottish motor racing driver of his generation.
Supported and backed by his father, George, and mother Marina, Franchitti first became interested in karting while at Stewart’s Melville College and developed his racing under the guidance of former F1 world champion Sir Jackie Stewart.
Franchitti competed in touring cars and single seaters but it wasn’t until 2007 that his dramatic run of success started. In May that year he became the first Scot since his hero - legendary F1 world champion Jim Clark in 1965 - to win America’s blue riband race, the Indianapolis 500. Six months later, he added the IndyCar championship.
Three back-to-back IndyCar titles followed in 2009, 2010 and 2011, supplemented by two more Indy500 wins in 2010 and 2012, ensuring his place in motorsport history.
Franchitti married actress Ashley Judd in 2001 in a private ceremony at Skibo Castle, near Dornoch, reported to have cost £1.3 million. Earlier this year the couple, who divided their time between Scotland and Tennessee, where they own a farm, announced they were to split.