I agree that going around and around in circles on a racetrack feels like a far cry from what (in virtually any other country than America) is generally deemed as motorsport, however, since our very own Scott Dixon is again, top of the IndyCar podium, I thought it deserved another look.
Drenched with motorsport history and interlaced with its fair share of controversy, IndyCar (or Verizon IndyCar series as it is currently known) has had quite, pardon the pun, the checkered past. IndyCar is at the upper echelon of North American open-wheel racing and despite ‘officially’ only having its inaugural season date back to 1996, the IndyCar series can legitimately trace its roots to 1911 when the American Automobile Association (AAA) sanctioned the first Indianapolis 500 (Indy 500) race. Although originally a stand-alone event contested at the iconic ‘Brickyard’ track in Indianapolis, the Indy 500 is undoubtedly the premier event on the IndyCar Series’ calendar, a position underlined by that fact that it provides double points towards the overall championship.
The IndyCar Series is essentially a level playing field. The league mandates the chassis and engine manufacturers (currently Honda and Chevrolet) which teams must use each season. It mandates the horsepower level, the aerodynamic configuration and maximum engine speed to which all entrants must adhere – ranging from 330kph on the road courses and up to 386kph on the Brickyard. It even has direct control over all drivers, with an officially designated ‘race boss’ maintaining constant two-way radio communication with each driver during every race – so basically the driver is the key difference. Which brings us on to our man Scott.
Born in Brisbane in 1980 (but is emphatically a Kiwi), Scott Dixon MNZM is a married father of two and quite simply one of our greatest ever professional racing drivers. To name but a few, his list of accolades includes multiple ‘Rookie of the Year’s’, two-time NZ Sportsman of the Year, a two-time Bruce McLaren trophy winner and three-time winner of Jim Clark’s. He’s a GT Le Mans winner at the 24 Hours of Daytona, the 92nd Indianapolis 500 winner and last but not least, the five-time (and current) IndyCar Series Championship winner.
With 44 IndyCar wins to his name, Scott Dixon boasts the third highest winnings in American Cars history but, as exposed in the recent movie ‘Born Racer’, it’s not the money that drives him, it’s the love of racing. In this ever-present dangerous motorsport, Dixon continually walks the fine line between the ‘will to win’ on the track and the obvious need to return safely to his family at home, highlighted in his gut-churning crash at the Indy 500 in 2017. It saw Dixon’s car clip Jay Howard’s rear wheel and fly end over end, eventually landing in a spinning fireball, yet he walked away with just a minor ankle injury, that and a hell-bent desire to win the next race.
Although Nascar still holds the mantle for American motor racing viewership and unquestioningly the constant battle for sponsorship funds would be as frenetic as the Series itself, IndyCar remains bullish about its future. Recently it’s seen an increase in new team interest plus high profile brands and drivers look to be eyeing the oval racetracks with serious intent. For us, with its high-speed, high-octane racing and epic, jaw-dropping crashes, the IndyCar series will undoubtedly continue to thrill and enthral, but just as long as Scott Dixon stays on top of that podium.