Bathgate’s Dario Franchitti made his first public appearance in Scotland since he announced his retirement from racing, when he attended the annual Scottish Motor Racing Club Awards in Edinburgh.
The 40-year-old triple Indy500 winner, and four-times IndyCar champion, was given a standing ovation by the audience of 400 at the Sheraton Hotel as he received a Lifetime Achievement Award.
Franchitti suffered broken vertebrae and severe concussion in a horrific high-speed crash in Houston at the beginning of October forcing his retirement. He said: After extensive tests, he was subsequently advised by doctors to not to race again for fear of causing permanent damage.
“Retiring definitely wasn’t an easy thing to do. I can’t pretend it’s been an easy thing to deal with, because it hasn’t.” “After I got the news from a couple of IndyCar doctors who I trust totally, I spent a couple of days thinking of ways to get around it. “I thought ‘there’s got to be a way’; sadly it became pretty apparent pretty quickly there wasn’t.
“It’s still tough in some ways, I still think a lot about driving a car. The passion is still there to do something.”
And he admitted he hopes to remain involved in IndyCar in a team role with Chip Ganassi Racing — the team for which he raced — next season.
“Chip and I have talked about something next year,” he continued. “I’d love to work with the team in IndyCar: I just won’t be behind the wheel anymore.”
Franchitti was joined at the award ceremony by the core of Scotland’s leading racing drivers, including his brother, American Le Mans winner Marino Franchitti, and cousin, current F1 racer Paul di Resta.
While Marino picked up the Callands Trophy, which is awarded to the Scot who has performed best in an international championship, Di Resta, received honorary membership of the SMRC.
Amongst the other main prizewinners, triple Le Mans 24-Hours winner, and newly-crowned FIA World Endurance champ Allan McNish picked up the John Romanes ‘Swift’ Trophy.
The award goes to the driver who has displayed ‘excellence in motorsport throughout his career’.
But there was also recognition of the new younger generation of Scots making their mark on both Scottish and British motorsport stages.
Dalkeith’s Aiden Moffat, who became the youngest-ever racer to compete in the British Touring Car Championship when he drove an S2000 Chevrolet at Knockhill in August, aged 16 years, 10 months and 28 days, took three awards: the Knockhill and SMRC Driver of the Year and the Ecurie Ecosse Hub, which is given to the most promising young Scottish driver of the year.
And while Kirkcaldy’s Jonny Adam collected the Rothmans Trophy, marking his win in the British GT Championship with Beechdean Aston Martin and Andrew Howard, Aberdeen father and son duo Jim and Glynn Geddie picked up the William Lyons Trophy.
The final award of the evening, the prestigious Stewart Medal — presented to the SMRC by three-times F1 world champ, Sir Jackie Stewart, to mark major contributions by individuals to the club and Scottish motorsport — went to husband and wife, Graham and Heather Brunton.
In addition to their tireless work as SMRC competition secretary, the duo have been instrumental in the creation of a number of single-make series, and recently introduced the GoMotor Racing campaign. The new campaign is aimed at attracting the next generation of Scottish motor racing stars to the sport.