3 Jun 2019

Dixon never saw this one coming

9:51 am on 3 June 2019

Scott Dixon specialises in making split second predictions at high speed.

But even he didn't see this one coming.

South Auckland-raised racing driver Dixon was awarded the Companion of the New Zealand Order of Merit on Monday.

A five-time winner of the IndyCar series in the US, the 38-year-old is regarded by many as the greatest of his generation in the hugely popular and fiercely competitive championship.

INDIANAPOLIS, IN - MAY 18: IndyCar driver  Scott Dixon (9) of PNC Bank Chip Ganassi Racing during the 103rd Indianapolis 500 Qualifications on May 18, 2019 at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway in Indianapolis, IN. (Photo by Jeffrey Brown/Icon Sportswire)

Photo: ©Icon Sportswire (A Division of XML Team Solutions) All Rights Reserved

His 44 IndyCar wins puts him third on the all-time list for the series, while his victory in one of world motorsport's three blue ribband events, the Indianapolis 500, in 2008 further solidifies his standing.

So, how does his recognition in the 2019 Queen's Birthday honours stack up against all his other accolades?

"I've always been extremely proud to fly the flag for New Zealand overseas in racing," Dixon told RNZ from Detroit.

"But to receive recognition like this is amazing.

"Each race weekend we just to go out and try and win. You kind of go off stats and championships and things like that.

"But this is definitely something that you almost see as unachievable and maybe something that you would you would never receive.

"I feel very lucky to be doing what I do and the people I get to work with. This definitely tops it off."

Dixon has not only achieved enormous success of his own.

AUSTIN, TX - MARCH 23: Scott Dixon (9) of Chip Ganassi Racing driving a Honda waits for his pit crew to work an issue  before the IndyCar morning practice at Circuit of the Americas on March 23, 2019 in Austin, Texas. (Photo by Ken Murray/Icon Sportswire)

Photo: Photosport

He has also paved the way for other New Zealand drivers to succeed on the world stage.

Brendon Hartley, who drove in Formula One last year and is a Le Mans 24 Hour winner, fellow winner of that race Earl Bamber and rally ace Hayden Paddon have all been inspired by Dixon's feats.

He understandably takes plenty of pride in that fact but said his journey from South Auckland teenager to IndyCar series star was far from all his own doing.

Dixon pays credit to those who set up and drove an investment group, the likes of motorsport figures Peter "PJ" Johnson, Kenny Smith and the Giltrap family, along with parents Ron and Glenda.

"When you're young, you're obviously pretty naive, too.

"It just seemed like every year we would kind of figure it out, even though it was a total cluster at times. Mum and Dad having to re-mortgage things or find different ways to make it possible.

"We had really not much financial help. But the way that we did it, when we won championships and doors opened at the right time. It would almost be impossible to try and take that road again.

"It definitely makes it feel that much more special [and] I think it also opened up a lot of opportunity in New Zealand, and not just in the motor racing community."

Despite his desire to deflect credit, there is no doubt Dixon is a special talent who has grown into a true champion.

His coolness under pressure has earned him the nickname "The Ice Man" and his humble nature makes him one of the most well liked people in the IndyCar paddock.

When it comes to all he has achieved, though, Dixon's overwhelming reflection goes right back to his roots.

Half his life half a world away but always a Kiwi kid, instilled with Kiwi qualities.

"It is one of those typical New Zealand stories, right, where everybody just kind of gets stuck in.

"What's really helped me in my career [is] the way you're brought up in New Zealand to just get stuck in. Don't moan about it, make the best of any opportunity is just kind of how you're brought up and it's ingrained in you.

"That's why as a country, why we do so well.

"I'm proud of (my success), but I'm proud of it for many reasons and those many reasons are the people that were along the journey as well."