Scott Dixon, four-time IndyCar champion (2003, 2008, 2013, and 2015) and the winner of 2008 Indianapolis 500, is one of the best ever racing drivers from New Zealand, next to the legends such as Jim Richards, Chris Amon, Bruce McLaren and F1 champion Denny Hulme.
In a worldwide poll among fans, Dixon was selected as one of the 33 greatest drivers in Indianapolis 500 history, while Autosport magazine named him as one of the 50 greatest drivers who never raced in Formula One.
Scott's parents were racers too
Scott Ronald Dixon was born on July 22nd, 1980, in Brisbane, Australia. Scott's parents Ron and Glenys were New Zealanders, so he also got NZ nationality. They returned to New Zealand when Scott was very young.
His parents were both dirt race car drivers and they had an influence on Scott's early start of the racing career. Maybe even too early! Scott began racing karts at the age of seven. He switched to race cars when he was 13 years old.
Three formula titles before he was 16
Before his 16th birthday, Scott already had three championship titles driving open-wheeled single-seaters. In 1994, he won the New Zealand Formula Vee Championship, in 1995 he was the Formula Ford Class II champion and in 1996 he won Formula Ford Class I title.
He was too good for staying in New Zealand and in 1997 Scott moved to Australia, together with his mentor Kenny Smith. All this wouldn't be possible without the help of a businessman Christopher Wingate, who sponsored them.
Australian Drivers' champion in 1998
In 1997, Dixon won Rookie of the Year award and finished third overall in the Australian Drivers' Championship (Formula Holden), driving the Ralt Australia prepared Reynard. Next year he got a place in SH Racing team and won the 1998 championship with five wins in ten races.
He raced with ease, but the problem was the budget. Wingate suggested a foundation of a company to fund Dixon's career. That company was called Scott Dixon Motorsport (SDMS) and it was funded by shareholders who over the following two years invested more than $1m in Dixon. This allowed him to pursue his career without worrying about money.
Rejected V8 Supercars and moved to the USA
As a newly crowned Formula Holden champion, Dixon had the offer to race in the Australian V8 Supercar series, but he had a different plan. With the backing of SDMS investors, Dixon moved to the United States in 1999 and tested the Indy Lights car.
After a test in Sebring where Dixon broke the track record, he signed with Johansson Motorsports Indy Lights team, led by former Formula One driver Stefan Johansson. Dixon's performance in the race at Chicago was impressive, with a lap record, pole position and a victory. He was consistently fast throughout the year but had five DNFs, so at the end of the season, he was 5th in the standings.
In 1999 Dixon had a one-off appearance in American Le Mans Series, driving Doran's Ferrari 333 SP prototype at Petit Le Mans at Road Atlanta. He was partnered by Stefan Johansson and Jim Matthews but didn't reach the finish. They retired after 225 laps.
Domination in the 2000 Indy Lights season
In 2000 Dixon remained in Indy Lights, moving to the PacWest team. He was a dominant driver on the grid and took the championship title with six wins in twelve races.
PacWest Racing graduated Dixon to its CART team for full 2001 season. Dixon outpaced his teammate, the former Formula One driver Maurício Gugelmin. At the fourth round of the championship, at Nazareth Speedway, Dixon scored his first victory. He scored championship points in 11 of 20 starts, won the Jim Trueman Trophy for Rookie of the Year and was eighth in the championship.
Debut for Chip Ganassi in 2002
Dixon remained with PacWest in 2002 but it soon became clear that the team was short of cash. When it eventually collapsed after three races, Toyota arranged an introduction to Target Chip Ganassi Racing which added a third car to its squad to accommodate Dixon. Dixon posted 12 top ten finishes during the season, with 2nd place at Denver as the best result, and finished 13th in the championship.
First IndyCar title in the first attempt
Chip Ganassi switched to all-oval Indy Racing League in 2003. Dixon won the season opener at Homestead in Florida. He scored two more victories and five podiums to win his first Indy championship title in the first attempt.
The season was also marked by a violent death of Dixon's teammate and close friend Tony Renna. Ganassi had recruited Tony Renna for the following season and he had a practice session for the team at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway in October. Renna spun across the track and became airborne in the third turn. The car hit a post at a high speed and was completely demolished. Renna was killed instantly.
Disappointing results in 2004 and 2005
2004 and 2005 were relatively unsuccessful seasons, with only one victory and one podium in 32 races. Dixon scored a podium at Phoenix in 2004 and won at Watkins Glen in 2005. In the championship standings, he finished 10th and 13th respectively. Amid rumors that Dixon could be fired, he re-signed for a further two seasons with Ganassi.
Victory at 2006 Rolex 24 at Daytona
During 2004 he unsuccessfully tested for the WilliamsF1 team and the next year he competed for Ganassi at Rolex 24 at Daytona, finishing 6th in the Riley-Lexus prototype. At the beginning of 2006 Chip Ganassi's trio of Scott Dixon, Dan Wheldon and Casey Mears won the 24 Hours of Daytona.
The only driver to finish every race
Dixon and reigning IRL champion Dan Wheldon defended Ganassi's colours in the 2006 Indy season, in which the team moved to Honda engines. Dixon won at Watkins Glen and Nashville Superspeedway to take fourth place in the championship. Dixon completed a series-high 2,504 of a possible 2,510 laps and was the only driver to finish every race during the season.
Dixon was a runner-up in the 2007 IndyCar Series season, 13 points behind Dario Franchitti. During the last event at Chicagoland, they were battling for the win and the championship. Dixon was leading Franchitti on the last lap when he ran out of fuel, giving Franchitti the race win and the championship. Dixon scored four victories in that season.
2008 - what a magical and wonderful year
2008, was the most successful Dixon's year in his career – he got married, won the IndyCar championship and took his first victory at Indianapolis 500. In total, he won six races during the season (Indy 500, Homestead, Texas, Nashville, Edmonton and Kentucky). He secured the title in the final race of the series, at Chicagoland Speedway. He needed to finish at least eighth if Helio Castroneves won the race. He placed second to Castroneves in a tight photo finish.
Dixon was awarded for his achievements in his home country. He was selected 2008 New Zealand Sportsman Of The Year, but also he became one of five New Zealand motorsports personalities honoured in a special issue of New Zealand Post stamps. Others were Denny Hulme, Bruce McLaren, Ivan Mauger, and Hugh Anderson.
Dario Franchitti as a teammate and rival
Just before the 2008 Chicagoland event, it was announced that his teammate Wheldon would be moving to Panther Racing in 2009 and Dixon's new partner would be Dario Franchitti, who returned from NASCAR. There was a considerable rivalry between Dixon and Franchitti during the season and both were title contenders until the last race. Dixon had five victories, Franchitti won four times and they came to the last race at Homestead with Dixon having five points advantage. Franchitti was a better fuel strategist and he won the race and the 2009 championship.
In the next three seasons, Dixon finished third in a championship three times, with his teammate Franchitti winning the titles in 2010 and 2011. Dixon scored seven wins in those three seasons and finished second at 2012 Indianapolis 500, which was his best result at Indianapolis Motor Speedway classic after the victorious 2008.
One more title despite incidents and penalties
One more victorious season followed in 2013. Dixon needed eleven races to score his first season's victory, but he had a fantastic second part of the season. He won at Pocono in July, which was IndyCar's first race there in 24 years. He achieved back-to-back wins in the two-event Honda Indy Toronto.
In the 2013 Grand Prix of Sonoma, Dixon ran into one of Will Power's pit crew members and was penalized. Dixon argued that the worker walked in front of his car, though IndyCar race director Beaux Barfield stated Dixon had driven into Power's work area. The following week at Baltimore, Dixon was involved in another incident with Power with 22 laps left, and officials ignored team requests to tow Dixon's car to pit lane for repairs. Dixon called for Barfield to be fired, and on September 6, was fined $30,000 and placed on probation. Dixon won the double-header Houston Grand Prix and by finishing fifth at the season finale in Fontana, he secured his third championship title.
Indy title and Daytona 24h victory in 2015
In 2014 Chip Ganassi Racing switched from Honda to Chevrolet engine. Dixon won two races at Mid-Ohio and Sonoma and finished third in the championship. Dixon opened his 2015 season by winning the 24 hours of Daytona for Ganassi, partnered by Tony Kanaan, Jamie McMurray and Kyle Larson.
He scored his first win in the IndyCar competition in the third round at the Grand Prix of Long Beach. At Indianapolis 500, he won his second pole but finished fourth. Dixon won the Firestone 600 at Texas and then won the last event of the year at Sonoma. He and Juan Pablo Montoya ended the season with equal points but Dixon was the champion because he had three wins against Montoya's two.
Out of top 5 after eleven years
In 2016, Dixon re-signed for Chip Ganassi Racing, for his 15th consecutive season with the famous team. He scored two race wins but the overall result was disappointing, as he finished out of top 5in the final standings for the first time since 2005, when he was 14th. At the end of 2016 IndyCar season, he finished 6th in the points.
In 2017, Dixon was among the front-runners again, staying in the title fight until the season's finale. During a season, he won just one race (Road America) and added six podiums, entering the last race in the second place. In season's finale at Sonoma Raceway he was fourth, finishing third in the championship standings.
Video: Highlights of Dixon's championship winning seasons