Getty Images

Scott Dixon’s balancing family, driver roles helps make him great

Leave a comment

The accolades that immediately roll off the tongue when you mention Scott Dixon’s name are his racing accomplishments: 2008 Indianapolis 500 winner, four-time Verizon IndyCar Series champion, and fourth all-time on the Indy car win list with 40, trailing only A.J. Foyt (67), Mario Andretti (52) and Michael Andretti (42).

So what’s the accolade you don’t necessarily put alongside it, but you should? His dedication and devotion as a family man, in the dual role of husband to wife Emma and full-time dad to daughters Poppy and Tilly. He and Emma celebrate their ninth wedding anniversary today.

The Dixons, who have made Indianapolis their permanent residence in recent years but also spent a fair bit of time of St. Petersburg helping the Wheldon family, are, if not renowned as the first family of the current IndyCar grid, they’re close.

Talking about family, rather than racing, doesn’t come easily to Dixon – who as typically as he gets on with the job behind the wheel, also does so at home. He does this as he prepares for his 17th season in IndyCar, 16th with Chip Ganassi Racing and for the first time, without Target sponsorship.

“I feel very lucky with my job, but also the time we get with family,” Dixon told NBC Sports. “We have extremely long offseasons.

“So by their nature, that gives you that time to be, for me, a dad … I can fully be there to take the kids to school, maybe crash their lunches, or take them to gymnastics or tennis. A lot of people don’t get that opportunity.”

Dixon’s schedule isn’t usually as travel heavy for work purposes over the IndyCar offseason as, for example, Chip Ganassi Racing teammate Charlie Kimball, who spends much of his time traveling the country and world for Novo Nordisk appearances.

The extent of Dixon’s offseason travel is usually for sports car races – he competes in one of Ganassi’s Ford GTs in the endurance races as third driver to his past IndyCar teammate Ryan Briscoe and sports car veteran Richard Westbrook.

“Both Emma and I travel a lot but we also get time to be with the kids, because having a normal job can be from 8 to 5. Others have it even worse… if you’re a doctor, nurse or whatever, the hours are extremely long,” Dixon said.

He puts his full focus on his day job first, but he’s never let that impede on the duties at home.

“For me, I love racing… I love the challenge of it, and that’s important,” he said. “But there’s family and then racing. The other promotional stuff, media requirements, things like that, are probably the harder part for me. Talking about the racing is easier.”

One of the races he was talking about this offseason was the Liqui-Moly Bathurst 12 Hour, a race Dixon has gotten more interested over the years to go along with his interest growing up in watching the Australian Supercars classic, the Bathurst 1000 (now the Supercheap Auto Bathurst 1000).

“It’s kind of like their Indianapolis 500,” Dixon explained. “I watched the 1000 every year back in the days, going back to watching Peter Brock, Dick Johnson and those legends. I’ve been there twice maybe to watch the race? But I was only 14 or 15 at the time.

“That place has fascinated me. The track is so cool. A lot of the guys that are racing there now, I’ve competed against in the junior categories and now do most of the V8 races. It’s a national thing… all the mates I went to school with. It’d be watch Bathurst, have a BBQ, getting ready for watching. Hopefully one day there’s one day I can race there, man.”

If the opportunity arises, Dixon would jump at the chance to race at Bathurst, with the 12-hour as a “warm-up act” to any appearance in the 1000.

“Thinking about it, the whole idea would be to do the 12-hour before Supercars and the 1000. Timing-wise, it’s possible to do both, but contractually it might be harder. I’d love to do it though; I’ve put fingers out to try to see what the possibilities are.”

Mike Hull, Dixon’s longtime race strategist and managing director at Chip Ganassi Racing, also worked to explain what makes Dixon so good from the dual family/driver role.

“You never realize what’s in front of you while you have it,” Hull told NBC Sports. “When it’s Scott Dixon we’re talking about, if he’s not the best ever, he’s one of the best.

“People don’t realize what he’s done as a driver. When you think about the iterations of cars he’s raced. It’s not the same as the CART ones that changed, or the IRL ones that changed. He’s been continually winning in a different kind of IndyCar for 15 years. He doesn’t give up trying to understand himself better on a driver. He’s like a chameleon. He’s always trying to suit the car, driver and track… some drivers are so singularly focused in their driving style, and they have to step around their egos.

“But that’s why he’s won as many races as he has… 40 of them. Other guys have raced cars at a different time. Scott has been blessed with good teammates. What Scott does is work so hard, but so unselfishly with his teammates to make each other better.

“He’s worked so hard to achieve what he has unselfishly. You’ll get the most from him every day.”

Street race in Vietnam could lead Formula One’s Asia expansion

Formula One logo
Leave a comment

TOKYO (AP) — Formula One is expected to add more races in Asia, including a street circuit in the capital of Vietnam, a country with little auto racing history that is on the verge of getting a marquee event.

“We think Hanoi could come on in the next couple of years, and we’re working with the Hanoi government to that end,” Sean Bratches, Formula One’s managing director of commercial operations, told the Associated Press.

There is even speculation it could be on the schedule next season, which Bratches rebuffed.

Vietnam would join countries like Azerbaijan, Russia and Bahrain, which have Grand Prix races, little history in the sport, and authoritarian governments with deep pockets that serve F1 as it tries to expand into new markets.

“This (Hanoi) is a street race where we can go downtown, where we can activate a large fan base,” Bratches said. “And you have extraordinary iconography from a television standpoint.”

A second race in China is also likely and would join Shanghai on the F1 calendar. Bratches said deciding where to stage the GP will “be left to local Chinese partners” – Beijing is a strong candidate.

Bratches runs the commercial side of Formula One, which was acquired last year by U.S.-based Liberty Media from long-time operator Bernie Ecclestone.

Formula One’s long-term goal is to have 24-25 races – up from the present 21 – and arrange them in three geographical segments: Asia, Europe and the Americas. Bratches said the Europe-based races would stay in middle of the calendar, with Asia or the Americas opening or ending the season.

He said their positioning had not been decided, and getting this done will be slowed by current contracts that mandate specific places on the calendar for several races. This means eventually that all the races in Asia would be run together, as would races in Europe and the Americas.

The F1 schedule is now an inefficient jumble, allowing Bratches to take a good-natured poke at how the sport was run under Ecclestone.

“We’ve acquired an undermanaged asset that’s 67-years-old, but effectively a start-up,” Bratches said.

Early-season races in Australia and China this year were conducted either side of a trip to Bahrain in the Middle East. Late in the season Formula One returns to Asia with races in Japan and Singapore.

The Canadian GP this season is run in the middle of the European swing, separated by four months from the other races in the Americas – the United States, Mexico and Brazil. These three are followed by the season-ending race in Abu Dhabi, which means another trip across the globe.

“With the right economics, with the right structure and cadence of events across territories, 24 or 25 is probably where we’d like to be from a longer-term standpoint,” Bratches said.

Big changes are not likely to happen until the 2020 season ends. This is when many current rules and contracts expire as F1’s new owners try to redistribute some income to allow smaller teams to compete.

“There’s more interest than we have capacity in the schedule,” Bratches said, firing off Berlin, Paris or London as potentially attractive venues. “We want to be very selective.”

“Those cites from an economic impact standpoint would find us value, as do others around the world,” Bratches added. “It’s very important for us as we move forward to go to locations that are a credit to the Formula One brand.”

An expanded schedule would have to be approved by the teams, which will be stretched by the travel and the wear-and-tear on their crews. The burden will fall on the smaller teams, which have significantly smaller revenue compared with Ferrari, Mercedes or Red Bull.

Bratches also envisions another race in the U.S., joining the United States Grand Prix held annually in Austin, Texas. A street race in Miami is a strong candidate, as are possible venues like Las Vegas or New York.

“We see the United States and China as countries that could support two races,” he said.

Liberty Media has reported Formula One’s total annual revenue at $1.8 billion, generated by fees paid by promoters, broadcast rights, advertising and sponsorship. Race promotion fees also tend to be higher in Asia, which makes the area attractive – along with a largely untapped fan base.

In a four-year cycle, F1 generates more revenue than FIFA or the International Olympic Committee, which rely almost entirely on one-time showcase events.

Reports suggest Vietnamese promoters may pay between $50-60 million annually as a race fee, with those fees paid by the government. Bratches said 19 of 21 Formula One races are supported by government payments.

“The race promotion fee being derived from the government … is a model that has worked historically,” Bratches said.