Dario Franchitti, a four-time IndyCar Series champion, suffered a spinal fracture when his car went airborne after a collision and slammed into a metal safety fence during the final lap of the Houston Grand Prix.
Franchitti was awake and alert after the crash, which also sent an IndyCar official and two spectators to a local hospital for evaluation. Franchitti, who won’t need surgery on his back, also suffered a concussion and a fractured right ankle, IndyCar medical director Michael Olinger said.
Franchitti, 40, had surgery on his ankle and was kept overnight at Memorial Hermann-Texas Medical Center in Houston.
A three-time winner of the Indianapolis 500, Franchitti made contact with Takuma Sato’s car in Turn 5 of the 1.7-mile temporary track after the Japanese driver slid offline as his tires lost grip. Franchitti’s car was launched into the air and broke apart as it crashed into the fence, throwing a wide swath of debris onto the track and into the stands.
Part of the safety fence was ripped apart and Indycar said 13 people were injured, with 11 treated at the scene.
“On the last lap I caught the marbles and brushed the wall and lost momentum,” Sato said, referring to the balls of rubber from tires that collect on the outside of the track. “A couple cars passed me as I was offline and in Turn 5. I got very loose, and Dario and I came together.”
Sato and driver E.J. Viso, who was also caught up in the crash, were evaluated at the scene and released.