The Scary Accident That Rekindled Ashley Judd's Connection To Her Ex-Husband

Ashley Judd tied the knot with Dario Franchitti at a castle in the race car driver's native Scotland in December 2001. The two had met nearly three years earlier at a wedding in early 1999, becoming engaged the following December. Franchitti didn't know who the Golden Globe nominee was but it was mutual. Judd also knew close to nothing about racing, though she went on to become "as comfortable in the pits as I am barefoot in my garden," she said, according to USA Today.

The marriage didn't produce any offspring, as Judd vowed to never have children. Her decision came after she had married the three-time Indianapolis 500 winner, which was hard on them both. "I'm not saying it's not scary, the choice I'm making," she told the Scottish Daily Record & Sunday in 2006. "I'm changing everything about who I was when my husband and I met ... It's a big deal." Their relationship continued to work, though. Instead of babies, they raised pets together and all was fine — until it wasn't.

After 11 years of marriage and 14 years together, Judd and Franchitti announced their divorce plans in January 2013. "We'll always be family and continue to cherish our relationship based on the special love, integrity, and respect we have always enjoyed," they said in a statement shared with People. Judd and Franchitti then went their separate ways. That is until a serious accident put them in each other's path again not long after.

Dario Franchitti was seriously hurt in a crash

A little over eight months after Ashley Judd and Dario Franchitti split, the race car driver was involved in a crash at the Grand Prix of Houston on October 6, 2013. Franchitti broke two vertebrae and his right ankle, in addition to suffering a concussion, USA Today reported. Debris from the accident also injured at least 13 spectators according to CNN. In light of Franchitti's injuries, the "Divergent" actor dropped everything and raced to his side. 

"Thank you for the prayers for @dariofranchitti I have only clothes on my back & the dogs but that's all that we need & we are on our way," Judd tweeted on October 6, 2013. Franchitti was taken to Memorial Hermann Texas Medical Center, where he underwent surgery on his ankle the same day of the accident. Judd was right there. "Amazed by the incredible outpouring of care & prayers," she tweeted the following day. "Thanks, everyone. Keeping our heads down here & doing what's in front of us to do."

The severity of his injuries put an end to Franchitti's career. The experience reportedly brought them closer together, making them question their decision to divorce. "They are going to give it another try after he recovers," a source told Us Weekly. "His accident made her realize how much she loves him." But Judd and Franchitti didn't get back together. Their divorce was finalized that same year, but the exes remained close... even if their separation was hard on them.

Ashley Judd and Dario Franchitti still consider each other family

Ashley Judd and Dario Franchitti's divorce was no walk in the park, but they managed to retain their bond even after splitting. "We are great friends. As everyone knows, we got divorced last year," Franchitti told WTHR in 2014. "Not an easy decision for both of us. She is great. She is a wonderful person. I am lucky we have managed to keep that great friendship and a very, very important person in my life." That remained true even after Franchitti married Eleanor Robb in 2015.

When Franchitti and Robb welcomed their first child in 2016, they asked Judd to be a big part of her life. "Now, he is married and I am the godmother to their child Sofia," she told the Daily Record in 2019. While Judd has remained single, she sees Franchitti — and his new family, which also includes his second daughter, Valentina — as her own. "I talk about how we developed this beautiful family of choice and just reconfigured what the relationship looks like," she said.

With her post-divorce relationship with Franchitti, Judd hopes to show that families come in different forms. She even avoids calling Franchitti her ex-husband. "He'll always be my loved one," she told Ladies' Home Journal in 2014 (via Us Weekly). "Even before our wedding, we agreed not to tell people about our relationship, but to show them instead. What we're showing them now is we're human, we're family, and this is what family looks like."