28 Oct 2020

Scott Dixon reflects on 'wild ride' with Indy series and hopes for future

10:44 am on 28 October 2020

Scott Dixon is now only one series title short of the record held since the 1970s by American legend AJ Foyt after his sixth series crown earlier this week.

Scott Dixon with the Astor Cup in St Petersburg, Florida on 26 October, 2020.

Scott Dixon with the Astor Cup in St Petersburg, Florida on 26 October, 2020. Photo: Photosport / 2020 Michael L. Levitt

The Indiana-based 40-year-old reflected on his triumphant journey with the Indy series on Morning Report.

"Back in 2003, I probably didn't realise what I'd actually won, pretty young and naiive," he says of his first championship in his first year with the Indy Racing League.

He's the only driver to win the championship in his inaugural year in the series.

"It's been an interesting past 19 years, especially with this team and the championships we've won ... it's been a wild ride but one that I've enjoyed thoroughly and hope continues for a while longer."

Having been with Chip Ganassi for all but one season, Dixon says there's been a lot of changes but at the heart of it, their goal remains the same.

"The team still has that one great factor and the will to win. When I walked through those doors in 2002, I was pretty intimidated by just feeling the energy when I walked in, but it's so great to work with the best in the business and we work well together and have achieved a lot together."

The competition in the series has been "through the roof", he says.

"I think with the adversity and challenges we've all faced this year, it's definitely one we'll never forget."

Looking ahead, he says there's been a lot of talk about chasing the seventh title and being on par with Foyt's record.

"When we had five, seven seemed quite a big mountain to climb but obviously now it's just one more. There's many things that motivate you, for me it's the will to win but also the people that helped get me here from my parents to all the supporters and investors that I had at a young age, that enabled me to get to where I am now."

Yesterday, his mother told Morning Report she could not be more proud of her son.

"Back in the day when we were trying to get him further ahead, it was hard work all the time then ... getting the money to get into the races and things like that. And you never ever dream that he is going to be as successful as he is ... you just don't think that. You just want to get him to the next step."

Dixon added: "Honestly, it was worthwhile, and the best thing for me was back in the early 2000s when I was actually able to pay all those people back.

"The competition is the main driver right now, and then obviously goals so you can look back on your achievements and be happy."

Next year, Dixon will be joined by fellow SuperCars Kiwi champion Scott McLaughlin, who will race for Team Penske next year.

"I was actually just chatting to him a few hours ago," Dixon says. "It's great to have another Kiwi on the grid. You don't get a better team than that. He's in a great situation, I'm just pumped to have a fellow Kiwi on the grid."

"What he's achieved in the SuperCars championship is astonishing ... he's ticked all the boxes. Looking forward to him racing over here next year and hopefully we get to some great races together.

Despite just eight full seasons in the Australian touring car category, McLaughlin is fourth on the all-time wins list with 56 career victories and second on the all-time list with 76 career poles.

With McLaughlin being 13 years his junior, Dixon says he's still ambitious for the future: "The fire is burning strong [for] many years yet."

Covid and the racing world

Covid restrictions have also put a strain on the sport in some states, with limits on crowds. But Dixon says regardless of the current situation, their fanbase was loyal and would always come back when the time was right.

Scott Dixon wearing a mask along with media after his claiming his sixth series crown on 26 October, 2020.

Scott Dixon wearing a mask along with media after his claiming his sixth series crown on 26 October, 2020. Photo: Photosport / 2020 Richard Dole

"I think the Indy car series is definitely in a pretty big growth pattern right now, TV ratings have been doing really well ... I think compared to other sports it's moving in a positive direction. Everybody is fighting at the moment for TV time and actual worth of the money that's spent in sponsorship.

"I got a shock two weeks ago when I raced the Petit Le Mans in Georgia and they didn't have any restrictions on fans. The past weekend in St Petersburg, Florida, they were limited to 20,000 fans a day and sold out immediately.

"There's definitely some pent up tension with people trying to get out and get back to somewhat regular lives even though there's a major issue going on here."

Even the champion is not immune to facing some "tricky" situations because of Covid. He was wearing a mask while heading over to the trophy, when he gave a kiss his wife, although he says networks were always nervous about the social distancing guidelines.

"Some of it makes you laugh, some makes you a bit sad, just hope that everybody continues to be healthy.

"You've got to be smart ... You might just a cross a state line and the rules change, we're pretty strict as a family ... yet some others definitely go all out."

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