Photo courtesy Tony Kanaan
A pair of Indy 500 winners spent time at Houston's Memorial Hermann Hospital on Monday visiting an injured friend and some of the fans who were involved in his violent crash.
Images of Dario Franchitti's terrifying launch into the fencing in the Turn 5 section at the Houston Grand Prix have been on heavy rotation since Sunday, and with the 40-year-old Scot recovering from a significant concussion, broken ankle and two fractured vertebra, his teammate Scott Dixon and close friend Tony Kanaan spent time with their fellow Indy 500 winner as he rested in his hospital room.
“When I found out Dario was at the hospital where they took all the fans, too, I went there with Scott to see Dario, and once we found out a few of the injured fans were still there, we went to see them,” Kanaan told RACER. “We found a lady who was there, it was her first race, and she had no clue who we were, but we talked, and said we'd driven in the race, gave her our car numbers, and she was touched, but it wasn't like they were big fans; they were just happy to have people who cared coming in to say hello.
“And one of our people from IndyCar timing & scoring was there, she had a cut on her nose which had a bandage, and I said, ‘Now you know how I feel…and what it's like to live with a big nose…,' so we had a laugh at that. We just tried to bring spirits up. When you're in the hospital, it isn't fun and let them know they weren't by themselves.”
As ambassadors for the sport, Kanaan and Dixon also extended a future offer to the injured fans and their families.
“We know the importance of our fans," Kanaan continued. I asked her if she'd come back to the race next year, and she said, ‘Of course, my son had a blast,' and said her son was outside her room, and I went to see him. He's six years old, the same age as my son, he had an IndyCar hat, so we signed it for him, which he liked, and asked the colors of the cars me and Scott drove.
“She said she went to the race to bring her son, so I told him to come and see me next year and I'll have a gift for him…so he says, ‘Can I have it now?...' and we had a good laugh together with his dad. I told him, ‘Well, I don't have it now, but I promise I will when we come back,' and he was OK with that. It was really great to be there with him and his family. It was something positive out of a tough circumstance.”
Kanaan and Dixon eventually flew home Monday night after keeping Franchitti, Mrs. Hernandes, and her family company.
“I spent the whole night there, the whole day there with Dario,” added Kanaan. “It was one of those days where everything worked out perfect for me and Dixon to support our friend and to make sure our fans know that we care.”