LONG BEACH, Calif. – Bobby Unser was honored Thursday night at the annual Road Racing Drivers’ Club dinner in downtown Long Beach.
On Sunday, Unser’s career record was acknowledged – and then eclipsed – by Scott Dixon in the 41st Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach.
The New Zealander won his 36th career race in North American open-wheel racing, dating to 2001 when he won his first at Nazareth Speedway, then driving for PacWest Racing, in CART.
Dixon, who remains more focused on the present in the Verizon IndyCar Series rather than reflecting on his own place in history, downplayed his achievement in the immediate aftermath in victory lane.
“Stats are stats. Hopefully someday you can look back when you’re done with racing and be happy with it,” Dixon told NBCSN’s Kelli Stavast in victory lane.
“For me to be in that group of names means a lot. They were my heroes and people I looked up to and still feel thankful to have the around me, the racing community. We’re going to keep digging and hopefully we can add to those.”
Unser hailed Dixon’s achievement in a quote released to the media shortly after the race.
“Long Beach is never an easy place to win, and Scott Dixon did a great job today and so did his pit crew to get him out front. Racing is a team effort and both Scott and his crew earned the win, my congratulations to them. Scott is a smart, smooth driver and once again proved it,” Unser said.
“Scott Dixon has a big, big abundance of talent and he has proven it over the years – he wins driving on any type of course he races his Indy car on. Scott wins on ovals, big and small; street courses and road courses. I remember last year he came from dead last to win at Mid-Ohio. Scott Dixon has talent and skill and will win races for years and years to come. He is always really fun to watch, for sure. Congrats on earning your 36th career Indy car win today Scott – keep up the impressive driving.”