Indy 500 winners Dixon, Franchitti robbed at Taco Bell
Indianapolis — Indianapolis 500 pole-winner Scott Dixon and retired three-time race winner Dario Franchitti were unharmed after being robbed at gunpoint in the drive-thru lane of a Taco Bell making a late-night food run, police said Monday.
The robbery happened shortly before 10 p.m. at the fast-food restaurant less than a mile from the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, where Dixon a few hours earlier had won the top starting position in IndyCar’s showcase race coming up on Sunday. Police did not immediately disclose what was taken.
Two boys, ages 15 and 14, were arrested a short time later.
The police report listed three victims: Dixon, his wife, Emma, and Franchitti. Police spokesman Aaron Hamer said Dixon’s wife was not in the vehicle and the investigation was ongoing.
Tony Kanaan, Dixon’s teammate with Chip Ganassi Racing, told reporters that Dixon was making a food run for a group of drivers, including himself. Franchitti, who retired in 2013, also works for the team.
“While they were ordering with their windows down two guys approached at gunpoint,” Kannan said. “They held a gun at Dixon’s head and asked him for his wallet and his phone. You don’t expect that to happen, especially here.”
Nobody in the car was hurt. By the time practice resumed Monday, some around the 2.5-mile oval were poking fun at the incident.
“I was supposed to be with them. I’m from Brazil, so I’m a little bit more accustomed to this stuff,” Kanaan joked. “I’m glad they’re OK, and now I can make fun of them.”
Team owner Chip Ganassi wrote on Twitter: “There goes that Taco Bell sponsorship we were working on I guess.”
But mostly, the subject made people uncomfortable.
“Life’s fragile and I think we should never take that for granted,” Ganassi Racing managing director Mike Hull said. “I’m just glad that Dario and Scott and Emma are all right.”
Dixon declined to comment on Monday. He is scheduled to be on the series’ media tour in Toronto on Tuesday, where he is likely to be peppered with questions about what happened.
Until then, Ganassi and his team are not conducting interviews so they can focus on getting ready for Sunday’s race.
“Scott Dixon and Dario Franchitti are completely fine after being held up last night by two men at a fast-food restaurant,” the team said in a statement. “We will allow the Speedway/Indianapolis police departments to handle the situation and while they conduct their investigation we will refrain from making any further comments to allow Scott to focus on the upcoming Indianapolis 500.”
In the report, detectives said surveillance cameras showed a suspicious vehicle in the parking lot before the robbery. About 30 minutes later, the report said, officers stopped the car and the passenger fled. He was apprehended by a police dog. One of the suspects was taken to Marion County Holding at Eskenazi Hospital while the other went to the local juvenile detention center.
Police say one of the suspects was identified by one of the robbery victims. The Marion County Prosecutor’s Office will review the case and make a changing decision.
Dixon, who is from New Zealand, is the 2008 Indy 500 winner. He is fourth all-time on the series’ career list for wins (40), is tied for second in most series championships (four) and is now one of five drivers to win the Indy pole three times. He also is a friend of longtime teammate Franchitti, a Scot who was forced into retirement following a serious crash late in the 2013 season at Houston.
Franchitti won 31 IndyCar races, tied for ninth all-time, and like Dixon won four series titles. Franchitti and Brazil’s Helio Castroneves are the only foreign-born drivers to win the Indy 500 three times.
“We’re all very relieved to hear that everyone is safe and that the suspects were caught,” Taco Bell Corp. spokesman Rob Poetsch said in an email.
When: 11 a.m. Sunday
Where: Indianapolis Motor Speedway
Defending champion: Alexander Rossi
DETROIT GRAND PRIX
When: June 2-4 (IndyCar races June 3-4, both at 3:30 p.m.)
Where: Belle Isle
TV: Both races on ABC
Defending champions: Sebastien Bourdais and Will Power