Dr. Steve Olvey, who helped pioneer improved safety in Indy car racing, says Franchitti made the only possible choice. (LAT photos)
Dr. Steve Olvey gave his professional opinion to Dario Franchitti a couple weeks ago in Miami.
?I told him that he had received three significant concussions not too far apart and, in my mind, it was too risky for him to continue driving,? said Olvey, the Associate Professor of Clinical Neurology/Neurosurgery at the University of Miami-Miller School of Medicine. ?It was a tough pill for him to swallow but I think he understands what the risks are and he accepted it,? Olvey remarked on Thursday afternoon a few minutes after Franchitti issued a statement he was retiring from IndyCar racing.
The three-time Indianapolis 500 winner emerged from his violent crash last month at Houston with a fractured spine, broken right ankle and concussion. He was having trouble sleeping and with his short-term memory, and so he flew to Miami to consult with Olvey.
?This was a big one, a significant concussion,? continued Olvey who, along with Dr. Terry Trammell, pioneered a new era of safety for open-wheel racing back in the 1980s with CART. ?Dario suffered one in 2002, one in 2006 and now this one, so he’s got a higher risk for future concussions with less energy involved in a crash.
?And, as we’ve seen in pro football, repeated concussions can lead to early dementia, so he’s got to think of his future. It’s just too great a risk to take.?
Back home in Scotland, Franchitti texted last week that everything was fine and there was nothing new to report but, obviously, his career was at a crossroads.
Olvey, who treated Formula 1 driver Felipe Massa a few years ago when he was struck in the head by a part from another car, said the 40-year-old veteran is making good progress.
?He didn’t feel right and this one is taking a little longer to get completely over, but he’s almost over it now,? said Olvey, who expects to re-examine Franchitti next month. ?He keeps begging Terry and I to let him drive his family car but we told him he had to wait because he’s not quite ready. So I’m sure he’s driving his mom and dad crazy but soon he’ll be just fine.?