Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Hollywood Fairytale for the Fast King of Scotland; Chitti Chitti Bang Bang: Dario Franchitti ( Car No 40 ) Came through This Warm- Up Crash Unscathed at Daytona Last Night but He's No Stranger to Danger, as the Picture of Last Year's Indy 400( Right) Proves. Dario and His Movie Star Wife Ashley Judd (Above)

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Hollywood Fairytale for the Fast King of Scotland; Chitti Chitti Bang Bang: Dario Franchitti ( Car No 40 ) Came through This Warm- Up Crash Unscathed at Daytona Last Night but He's No Stranger to Danger, as the Picture of Last Year's Indy 400( Right) Proves. Dario and His Movie Star Wife Ashley Judd (Above)

Article excerpt

Byline: David Smith

THE twin truths about Dario Franchitti's profile on this side of theAtlantic is that few motor racing fans here would recognise him, let alonepronounce his surname properly.

Yet when the flying Scot with a real Hollywood wife makes his debut inAmerica's 'Days Of Thunder' race on Sunday, he will be poised to overtake LewisHamilton to become second only to David Beckham as Britain's highestpaid activesportsman.

Franchitti (say it 'Fran-key-tea') last season proved to be the best, ifluckiest, single-seater driver on American tracks when he won the famous Indy500 and survived two horrific 200mph crashes to claim the IndyCar championship.

Now the 34-year-old husband of leading film actress Ashley Judd has become thefirst European driver to commit to a full season racing stock cars in a NASCARseriesranked second only to the NFL as America's most popular televised sport.

Victory before a trackside crowd of 250,000 in this weekend's Daytona 500the Super Bowl of NASCAR racing which featured in the Days Of Thunder moviestarring Tom Cruisecould see him in 2008 net double the [pounds sterling]10million Hamilton stands to bank fromhis new contract with the McLaren.

The benchmark, according to a list of top-earning sportsmen in the UnitedStates compiled by Sports Illustrated magazine, is former Daytona winner DaleEarnhardt Jnr, son of a NASCAR legend who was killed in a last-lap crash thatmarred the big race in 2001.

Sports Illustrated estimate that salary and endorsements enabled Earnhardt Jnr,who won the race in 2004, to grow richer by nearly [pounds sterling]13m in 2007. But such isthe huge popularity enjoyed by leading NASCAR drivers that he is thought tohave doubled his money through the sale of merchandise such as tee-shirts,jackets, caps and even candy bars.

Franchitti, who was born in Bathgate, West Lothian, has seen his fan appealboosted by his marriage to Judd, whose trackside wear usually involves highheels and a racy neckline. …

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