Race driver Dario Franchitti divorcing Ashley Judd

Dario Franchitti and Ashley Judd have been married for 11 years
Dario Franchitti and Ashley Judd have been married for 11 years
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SCOTTISH motor-racing star Dario Franchitti is to separate from his actress wife Ashley Judd after 11 years of marriage.

The three-times winner of the Indianapolis 500 and the American announced their separation in a joint statement to US magazine People.

They said: “We have mutually decided to end our marriage. We’ll always be family and continue to cherish our relationship based on the special love, integrity and respect we have always enjoyed.”

The decision to divorce is mutual, the couple said, and the statement neglected to mention any divorce plans or reasons

behind the split.

Shortly after the statement was released, Judd tweeted “Family Forever” to her husband.

Franchitti, 39, from West Lothian, and Judd, 44, married in a private ceremony at Skibo Castle, near Dornoch, in 2001, costing a reported £1.3 million, and divided their time between Scotland and Tennessee, where they owned a farm.

Judd became a familiar face in West Lothian, attending a wedding in West Calder only last summer.

The couple also beat competition from Madonna and Liam Gallagher to purchase Rednock House in Perthshire, paying £1.2m for the 200-year-old building in 2004. They put the property on the market last June for £3.8m, after spending £1.5m on renovations.

Born in Bathgate, Franchitti is one of Scottish motorsport’s greatest-ever drivers. As well as the three Indy 500 titles, he has won more than 100 races and 20 titles, including his first Scottish Junior Karting Championships aged 11, and was mentored by three-times Formula One world champion Sir Jackie Stewart.

Franchitti’s younger brother Marino and cousin Paul Di Resta are also successful drivers, with Di Resta currently racing in Formula One for Force India.

The Scot made his name competing in America for the IndyCar series, as well as a brief stint racing for Nascar.

In 2003, Franchitti suffered spinal damage that nearly ended his career when he crashed his MV Agusta Senna motorbike through a hedge and into a ditch at 150mph. In May last year, he overcame the odds to win the Indianapolis 500 for the third time after coming from last place to clinch victory in America’s blue- riband race. Judd was a regular on the trackside watching her husband compete, saying she became “as comfortable in the pits as I am barefoot in my garden”.

The pair met at a Miami wedding in 1999 and became engaged later that year.

They chose not to have children. Judd reportedly said: “It’s unconscionable to breed, with the number of children who are starving to death in impoverished countries.”

The actress is best known for her roles in Double Jeopardy and Kiss the Girls, and starred in the TV series Missing. Last year she attended the Democratic National Convention as a Tennessee delegate, and there has been speculation that she hopes to run for Senate in her home state of Kentucky next year.