Dario Franchitti's life is headed off-track.
The three-time Indianapolis 500 winner announced his retirement from IndyCar racing today, a little more than a month after being seriously injured during the Grand Prix of Houston.
"A sad day but I'm eternally grateful," the Scottish driver, whose wife Ashley Judd rushed to his side after his accident despite their separation, tweeted Thursday with a link to his more detailed statement.
Asked on Twitter if Franchitti had really retired, Judd replied, "Yes, with an extraordinary career, legendary achievements, aplomb & style." To another fan wishing him well, the actress wrote, "Thank you. His next iteration will be as fascinating & as impressive!"
But as Franchitti himself noted, he can't believe he's slamming the brakes on racing.
"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," stated the 40-year-old Franchitti.
"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. Racing has been my life for over 30 years and it's really tough to think that the driving side is now over."
And Franchitti does seem to be going out, albeit involuntarily, at the top of his game: He won the IndyCar Series in 2007, 2009, 2010 and 2011, and the third of his three Indianapolis 500 championships came just last year.
Judd and Franchitti announced their separation in January after 11 years of marriage, but she tweeted right after his accident, "Thank you for the prayers for @dariofranchitti I have only clothes on my back & the dogs but that's all that we need & we are on our way." The following day, she added, " Keeping our heads down here & doing what's in front of us to do."
And that future may seem more unclear than ever now to Franchitti, who has been racing on the pro circuit since the early 1990s.
After thanking his sponsors and partners over the years, he added: "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 that will last a lifetime.
"Hopefully in time, I'll be able to continue in some off-track capacity with the IndyCar series. I love open-wheel racing and I want to see it succeed."
Judd replied, "Agreed," when her brother-in-law, racer Marino Franchitti, tweeted, "My biggest wish is he now gets recognition his achievements have deserved from UK press. He's always deserved better."
"Retweet! #ThankYouDario One-of-a kind-racer, accomplishments that dazzle, has respect of legends & newcomers, but most of all, a gentleman," Judd also tweeted.
We continue to wish Franchitti a speedy recovery.