Dario Franchitti to Receive 2014 Legendary Driver Award

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IndyCar Champ to Be Honored at Annual Sam Schmidt Paralysis Foundation Gala

This year, we’ll honor one of the greatest names in racing and make some exciting announcements about the future of the foundation.

The Sam Schmidt Paralysis Foundation (SSPF) will host the 15th annual Racing to Recovery Gala Saturday, May 24, 2014 at the Lucas Oil Estate in Carmel. The Gala will begin with a Hawaiian luau and auction at 4 p.m., followed by the award presentation at 5 p.m. and a dance party until 10 p.m.

During the event, SSPF founder Sam Schmidt will present the 2014 Legendary Driver Award to Dario Franchitti, the four-time Verizon IndyCar Series champion and three-time Indianapolis 500 winner who retired from racing last year.

The Racing to Recovery Gala is one of the city’s premiere events leading up to the Indianapolis 500. This year’s Gala promises to be the best ever, set on the grounds of the breathtaking Lucas Oil Mansion in Carmel. A festive Hawaiian luau and buffet will be featured, along with Hawaiian dancers, an interactive hula contest and live music throughout the evening.

A highlight of the event will be a live and silent auction, featuring an impressive and diverse variety of items in all price ranges. The auction raises funds to support SSPF’s mission to find a cure for paralysis and is the foundation’s largest annual fundraising event. Last year, the event raised more than $300,000 for SSPF and spinal cord injury research.

“We promise a fun event at a spectacular location,” said Ida Cahill, president and CEO of SSPF. “This year, we’ll honor one of the greatest names in racing and make some exciting announcements about the future of the foundation. It will be a memorable evening!”

Reservations and sponsorship information can be obtained by calling 317-236-9999 or sending an email to events(at)samschmidt(dot)org.

About Dario Franchitti, 2014 Legends of Racing recipient

Dario Franchitti is a four-time IZOD IndyCar Series Champion (2007, 2009, 2010, 2011) and three-time Indianapolis 500 Winner (2007, 2010, 2012). Franchitti delivered three consecutive IZOD IndyCar Series titles in four years, including two wins at the Indianapolis 500 (2010, 2012) and is one of only five drivers to win the Indianapolis 500 and the series title in the same season more than once. Franchitti is currently seventh on the all-time wins list (1909-2012) with 31 victories and 90 podium finishes. By winning the 2012 Indianapolis 500, he became the 10th driver in history to win the race three times.

With his fourth IndyCar title in 2011, Franchitti moved into a tie for second place on the all-time list for most IndyCar Championships. He is only the third driver in IndyCar history to win at least three titles in a row.

The Scotland native recorded 265 starts in his IndyCar racing career resulting in 31 wins, 33 poles, 119 top-five and 167 top-10 finishes (1997-2013). He is the winningest driver in U.S. open-wheel history from Great Britain. Over the course of his open-wheel career, Franchitti is one of only 12 drivers to win a race in the IndyCar Series and CART.

In the 2011 season, Franchitti started second, took the lead on Lap 4 and went on to win at the Honda Grand Prix of St. Petersburg and had three straight Top-5 finishes at Barber, Long Beach and Brazil. Franchitti then captured his 28th career victory at Texas in one of two duel races. In Milwaukee, Dario dominated at the historic Mile, taking pole position and leading 161 of the 225 laps to record his 29th career win. He posted career win #30 at Toronto, his 26th career pole at New Hampshire and with four Top-10s to finish the season; he took home his third straight IndyCar driver's championship.

In the 2010 season started in unspectacular fashion, as Dario and Team Target posted one pole position and three Top-5 finishes. It was a different story at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. After starting in the front row from third position, Dario quickly went to the front of the field, led 155 out of the 200 laps and went on to win his second Indy 500 in four years. With wins at Mid-Ohio and Chicago, Dario set up an epic championship battle at the season finale in Homestead, Fla. He drove a calculated, mistake-free race and by finishing eighth, he overhauled Power's 12-point lead to capture his third career IndyCar Series driver's championship.

In 2009, after transitioning from the Ganassi team’s NASCAR program in 2008, the 2007 Indianapolis 500 and IndyCar Series Champion returned to open wheel racing alongside reigning Indianapolis 500 and IndyCar Series Champion, Scott Dixon. Dario captured five race wins (Long Beach, Iowa, Toronto, Sonoma and Homestead) and posted five pole positions. He finished 16 of the 17 races, recorded 13 top-5 finishes, 15 top-10 finishes and led 495 laps. Not bad for a driver who spent a year away from IndyCar!

About Sam Schmidt Paralysis Foundation

SSPF is leading the charge to cure paralysis by funding scientific research, medical treatment, rehabilitation and technological advances benefiting those with spinal cord injuries, stroke victims and people diagnosed with ALS, Alzheimer's and Parkinson's diseases. In addition to initiating local and national advocacy efforts on behalf of those disabled, SSPF also funds national "Days at the Races" programs. Ida Cahill is president and CEO of the foundation.

For more information, visit http://www.samschmidt.org.

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Dassie Rice

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