FRANCHITTI 'STILL WANTS MORE'
Dan Robson, thestar.com
Dario Franchitti — Lord of the Indy — has high praise for the rising star of Canadian racing.
Lounging in a grey chair near the end of nine hours of repetitive chats with reporters in advance of the Honda Indy, Franchitti turned conversation towards James Hinchcliffe.
“He’s a smart kid. He’s a good personality, but more than that — he’s a bloody good racing driver,” Franchitti said.
It’s high praise for Hinchcliffe, the 24-year-old IndyCar rookie from Oakville.
Franchitti is the reigning IndyCar Series champion, a title he’s holding for the third time. The handsome 38-year-old Scotsman has won the Indianapolis 500 twice. He’s married to Ashley Judd (come on, someone had to say it).
When it comes to Indy, and also life, Franchitti has it all. He charmingly declines to reveal the number of sports cars he’s collected and cares for at his houses in the United States and Scotland. “I can probably even tell you the mileages of each one,” he laughed. “My favorite is probably my Ferrari F-40, but each one does something different for me, it’s a different thrill . . . they all float my boat in some different way.”
Speaking of boats, after the Honda Indy Franchitti is off to enjoy sailing off the west coast of Scotland.
“I always thought sailing was — eh, whatever — it doesn’t have an engine in it. It can’t be that exciting,” he says. Fondly recalling how his friends got him hooked on the sport, he adds, “we put it out in the wind, put the sails up, shut the engine off. As soon as the sails filled, up the boat went up onto the side, I said — ‘Ah, you’re kidding me’.”
“It’s the whole thing of elements, isn’t it? Whether you’re trimming the sail or you’re steering the boat — you see it going from 10 knots to 10.1 and you’re like ‘Yes!’.”
Franchitti says this with genuine and contagious joy. It’s impossible to not immediately want to become a sailor, a sports car connoisseur, and a race car driver.
Heck, chat with Franchitti and you’ll just want to be Scottish.
Where were we? Right, Hinchcliffe.
“I see him as one of the future stars of Canadian racing,” Franchitti says, adding that he and the affable rookie share a sponsor in TW Steel. (Your Timex needs an upgrade, doesn’t it?)
“With the legacy that Canadian racing has provided, he has big shoes to fill — but I’m very impressed with what he’s done this year.”
That legacy includes Paul Tracy and Alex Tagliani, the other two Canucks at the Honda Indy.
Hinchcliffe is donning a special Canadian themed helmet this weekend, and says racing in Toronto is a “dream come true.”
He sits 161 points back from leader Franchitti’s 303 points in the IndyCar Series this year.
Australia’s Will Power is just 20 points back of the leader. Power won Toronto Indy last year and in 2007. He’s a favorite to win it again on Sunday afternoon.
Franchitti led the pack in 2009 and is looking to take another victory on Toronto’s “bumpy old track” with lots of charm. He had the fastest time in Friday’s practice run.
So what else does Franchitti need?
“More races,” he says. “I’d like to win this race. I’d like to win the championship again. I’d like to win the Indy 500.”
At 38, he has no plans for quitting.
“Yeah, I’ve got those achievements in the bank if you like, but I still want more,” Franchitti says.
So no, he won’t be sailing into any metaphoric sunsets anytime soon. But literal ones? Yeah, probably somewhere off the stunning coast of Scotland next week.
“I enjoy racing as much as I ever did. I’m going to keep going,” Franchitti says. “This is what I love to do. This is it.”