OFFSTAGE: Dario Franchitti’s Slow Ride to CMT Music Awards

(CMT Offstage keeps a 24/7 watch on everything that’s happening with country music artists behind the scenes and out of the spotlight.)

I certainly didn’t expect Indy 500 champ Dario Franchitti to drive 220 mph to get to the CMT Music Awards on Wednesday (June 6). But he told me on the purple carpet that he drove himself into the city in his 2006 Porsche Carrera GT, and that it was not really the right car for Nashville traffic. “It’s a fun car, but not a downtown car. I drove really slowly. On the last 20 blocks, I could’ve walked faster,” he laughed. “It was a little mad, but I prefer to drive myself. And cars are just my weakness.” Franchitti was looking forward to the show and getting to know country music a little better. “Ashley [Judd] is a huge bluegrass fan, actually,” he said of his wife. “We’ve been out a couple times around town. But I want to get more involved in the music.” Franchitti and Judd live just outside of Nashville. I asked him what it was like to give the traditional kiss to the Indianapolis Motor Speedway brickyard after winning the Indy 500 a couple weeks ago. He replied, “Very warm.” (It was 91 degrees that day.) “Well, first I’d poured milk on my head as tribute to Dan Wheldon. But then the milk was starting to curdle on my uniform. Then I go down to kiss the bricks, and they’re like 100 degrees,” he told me. “But it’s the best feeling in the world to go down there and do all that. That’s what winning Indy means.”

Alison makes her living loving country music. She's based in Chicago, but she's always leaving her heart in Nashville.