Tributes from the world of racing have poured in for IndyCar racer Dario Franchitti who has been forced to hang up his racing helmet for good on doctors' advice following a huge crash in Houston.
The three-time Indianapolis 500 winner and four-time IndyCar champion suffered spinal injuries, ankle fractures and concussion when he was involved in a last lap crash at an IndyCar Seres race at the Texas circuit last month.
Dario Franchitti'sIndyCar crash has prematurely ended a hugely successful racing career
The Scot's Target Chip Ganassi Racing car flew into the catch fencing after he touched the back of Takuma Sato's car when the ex-Formula One driver got out shape. Launched into the air, Franchitti's car ran along the fence, sending large pieces of debris in the direction of a nearby grandstand.
The 40-year-old from West Lothian announced his decision to retired through his website, franchitti.com:
“Since my racing accident in Houston, I have been in the expert care of some of the leading doctors and nurses, all of whom have made my health, my safety and my recovery their top priority. I am eternally grateful for the medical care I have received over the last several weeks. I'd also like to thank my family and friends for their unbelievable support.
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. 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 spoke of his love for the sport he now has to leave behind, saying: "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."
Franchitti recovering after his crash in Houston
Tributes to Franchitti, who is only one of three drivers to win three successive IndyCar titles, were led by team boss Chip Ganassi.
"Simply put, Dario is a motorsports legend and will be sorely missed on the race track by everyone in the paddock and in the stands," he said.
"His contributions to the sport of motor racing are too many to list but I can tell you that they go way beyond what he has done on the track."
Target CEO, Grgg Steinhafel, said his company had been "proud to watch Dario emerge as one of the most exciting drivers in IndyCar" and that he would be missed.
Newly-crowned IndyCar champion, Scott Dixon praised his Ganassi team-mate: "Dario is a true legend in the sport. More importantly, I can call him a best friend," he told USA TODAY.
"There are very few people that have achieved as much in auto racing and knowing Dario, he won't go far as IndyCar racing is in his blood and I am sure he will stay involved somehow."
Former team-mates and IndyCar rivals were quick to pay their tributes on Twitter, including Tony Kanann, Danica Patrick and Juan Pablo Montoya.
F1 driver Mark Webber had hoped he would get the chance to race against him in sportscars next year:
while Marino Franchitti, also a racing driver, was saddened he wouldn't be able to race alongside his brother again
Marino said he hoped his brother would get "get the recognition his achievements have deserved from the UK press", adding: "He's always deserved better."
Franchitti ends his career tied for eighth on the all-time IndyCar list with 31 career wins and 33 pole positions. It's thought he will continue in the sport in some capacity, most likely with the Ganassi team.
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