Auckland racing car driver Scott Dixon has continued the surge of Kiwi international success, yesterday winning the IndyCar championship in the United States, one of motorsport’s most coveted titles.
His fifth-place finish at Fontana, California, last night sealed his third IndyCar title since 2003 – and continued a remarkable run of recent New Zealand success.
The country is still basking in the glow of author Eleanor Catton winning the Man Booker prize and teenage singing sensation Lorde having the No1 song on the US charts.
Dixon, a visitor to Team New Zealand’s compound during the America’s Cup, revived sporting fans’ happiness with his championship win last night – a sporting championship arguably far more high-profile than the yachting event.
Thirty-three-year-old Dixon’s previous IndyCar overall titles came in 2003 and 2008. “When you’ve won a couple, they are all very different,” Dixon said about his titles. “This year has been far different in that midyear we didn’t think we had a shot at the championship.”
The victory didn’t come without some anxious moments – his car nearly overheated late in the race.
“We were freaking out,” admitted team manager Mike Hull.
He was the final car on the lead lap, and beat rival Brazilian Helio Castroneves by 27 points for the overall title. His team had to make an Oracle-like comeback in recent weeks to beat Castroneves.
“I did not think we had a chance at doing this, sitting in victory lane,” said Dixon, of Manurewa. “For all the ups and downs we had this year, I got to thank everybody on the team for sticking in there and making a comeback that I never thought was possible.”
Dixon celebrated with his wife Emma on the podium, and continues to look forward. “Racing is still in my veins and hopefully my career is a long one and something that I can enjoy for a long time.
“As you go on through your career, you have good races, bad races, lots of ups and downs. You cherish Indianapolis 500 victories and championships a lot more. I don’t know whether you know you won’t do it in 10 more years or what but the drive is still there. I still wake up every morning wanting to go to the track and race cars and hopefully win some more races.
“I think the championships in 2003 and 2008 – there were five years in between – that the ups and downs make you realise it’s not that easy to win races.”
Source: NZ Herald