Three-time Indianapolis 500 champion Dario Franchitti learned about the ugly side of racing in a scary crash during Sunday's Grand Prix of Houston.
Franchitti was involved in a three-car accident, along with Takuma Sato and E.J. Viso, in which his car was launched into the catch fence, spraying debris everywhere as his car was ripped to shreds.
Franchitti was immediately taken to the hospital, where he was diagnosed with a fractured spine. Thankfully, it will not require surgery and he should make a full recovery. He also suffered a concussion and a fractured ankle, which did require surgery.
Bottom lime: ouch.
The crash also injured a few spectators as debris flew into the grandstands. Thirteen spectators, including an IndyCar employee, were treated for minor injuries.
Franchitti — who, yes, was married to actress Ashley Judd until earlier this year — really made it out of the situation very lucky. You don't usually see accidents like this one, where a car is launched into the fence, on road courses. Driver Alex Zanardi lost both legs in an IndyCar (then called CART) accident in 2001 and Franchitti's friend Dan Wheldon was killed in an IndyCar accident in 2011.
These cars can go 200 mph no problem. The drivers aren't messing around. Fellow driver Scott Dixon had some very emotional words after the race.
"It's the smells and the visuals," Dixon said. "You have the remnants of Vegas [where Wheldon was killed] popping into your head, coming around the corner, and you can't drive through it because there's a field of debris. There was nowhere near the amount of damage that we saw a few years back, but seeing the replay, I think, was the big shock.
"When I was driving around, I didn't even look at the fence. To see Dario's car definitely brings home what we do each weekend and the difficulties that we can have out there. It's not a good sight to see, that's for sure."
Follow Metro New York Sports Editor Mark Osborne on Twitter @MetroNYSports. He has watched IndyCar in person and let me tell you, the speed of them whizzing by at ground level is absurd.