By Helen E. McKinney
(September 2011) Scott Dixon comes to Kentucky after a recent victory at the Honda Indy 200 at the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course. It was the first victory of the season for the two-time IZOD IndyCar Series champion.
The New Zealander began racing karts at age 7. He is now known as a road course specialist, becoming the most successful all-time driver in the Indy Racing League championship in the United States when he won the Honda Indy 200 at Mid-Ohio in August 2009.
Dixon, 31, had to overtake Target Chip Ganassi Racing teammate Dario Franchitti on a Lap 61 restart to garner the win earlier this month. Starting from the pole, he led most of the laps in this 85-lap race. This was Dixons third victory in five races under IndyCar sanction at the 2.258-mile Mid-Ohio course.
With the bonus points he gained, Dixon is rated third in the series championship standings. This is his 26th career win, tying him with Rodger Ward for 12th place on the all-time IndyCar win list. His last win came in 2010 at Homestead-Miami Speedway in Florida.
Known as a consistent race finisher, Dixon has twice set the record for finishing with the highest number of consecutive races in his IndyCar career. He first set the record at Watkins Glen in 2005 with 28 wins, and again at Mid-Ohio in 2007.
With 115 starts under his belt, 24 wins and 17 pole positions, hes come along way since racing karts. He became popular in New Zealand when he was granted a special dispensation to obtain a competition license to race a saloon car at age 13; most New Zealanders cannot obtain a road license until they reach age 15.
Racing is in his blood. He was born in Brisbane, Australia, on July 22, 1980, to parents Ron and Glenys Dixon, both of whom were dirt race car drivers. The family moved to New Zealand when he was very young. It was there he began his kart racing career.
Dixon, who currently resides in Indianapolis, has won many races in his native New Zealand. He won the 1994 Formula Vee championship and the Formula Ford Class 2 series one year later with 13 wins from 14 races. In 1996 he won the full New Zealand Formula Ford championship.
In an effort to ensure that his career moved forward, he decided to race in Australia the following year. Rotorua businessman Christopher Wingate provided Dixon and his mentor, Kenny Smith, with money and airfares between New Zealand and Australia.
The year Dixon made the move to Australia, he won Rookie of the Year and third overall in the Australian Formula Holden series. He was offered a driving spot with top team SH Racing.
Wingate suggested a company, Scott Dixon Motorsport (SMS), be formed with the purpose of funding Dixons racing career. Company shareholders invested more than $1 million in Dixon over the next two years.
In 1998 he won the Formula Holden series. As a result, he was encouraged to race in the Australian V8 Supercar series, but decided that wasnt where he wanted to be. He moved to the United States in 1999 to test in the Indy Lights series and was signed to Johansson Motorsports Indy Lights team.
By 2001, PacWest Racing graduated Dixon to its full CART team. That year he won the CART Rookie of the Year award, the same year he became the youngest driver to win any major open-wheel series at Nazareth.
He debuted in the IndyCar Series in 2003 and currently races for Target Chip Ganassi in car No. 9. During the 2004 and 2005 seasons, Dixon was not at the top of his game and was not able to successfully defend his title. Out of a total of 32 races, he made the podium only twice, had a second place finish and one win.
Things began to improve for Dixon in 2006 when Ganassi moved to Honda engines. Dixon was partnered with Dan Wheldon, winner of the 2005 Indianapolis 500 and IRL champion. The pair combined with Casey Mears as a one-car team before the IRL season began and won the 24 Hours of Daytona. Dixon became the first man to win an IRL race run in wet conditions when he scored another win at Watkins Glen.
He was runner-up in the 2007 IndyCar Series, trailing only 13 points behind Franchitti. For the season, he finished in the top five in 10 races. That year he became the third driver in history to consecutively win three IRL races.
Dixon won the 2008 season at Homestead, Texas, Nashville, Edmonton and Kentucky. At Kentucky, he took his career laps-led tally to 2,149 and replaced Alex Zanardi as the IndyCar driver with the most wins for Chip Canansi. He placed seventh for the year in pole-setting and led 869 laps for the year, an all-time record for a single season.
Dixons numerous awards include the Jim Clark Trophy (1999, 2001, 2004), Bruce McLaren Trophy (3003, 2008), and was inducted into the MotorSport New Zealand Wall of Fame in 2009.