Indianapolis 500: Racing king Dario Franchitti plays the joker


He has two IndyCar Series titles and an Indianapolis 500 win to his credit, but Dario Franchitti has one other discipline in which he has become rather proficient -- that of the practical joke.

His favorite is one he pulled off in 2005 when he was a member of the Andretti Green Racing team alongside inveterate pranksters Bryan Herta, Dan Wheldon and Tony Kanaan. And it had the added benefit of being on national TV -- sort of.

"We were really heavily into the practical jokes," the likable 37-year-old explains in his native Scottish burr. "The culmination of that was, it was my birthday at Indianapolis, and the guys attacked me with a bunch of cream pies live on ESPN and all this kind of stuff.

"So the next night, Tony was on the same show. So I proceeded to wheel his brand-new carbon-fiber racing bicycle into the studio behind the cameras just as he went on air. And just as the show went live, I hacksawed the bike in half behind the camera. So that was probably the funniest one. It was also the most expensive one I've done so far because I had to buy him a new bike."

After winning Series titles in 2007 and 2009 -- sandwiched around a lackluster '08 stint in NASCAR -- he currently sits in fifth place in the IndyCar standings. Sunday, May 30, he can be seen on ABC competing in the 94th Indianapolis 500, a race he won three years ago.

"The more you do this race," says Franchitti, who has been racing at Indy since 2002 and in the U.S. since 1997, "the more you realize just how very difficult it is to win it. So when it finally comes true, it was a great feeling, just really incredible, difficult to put into words."

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