Photo: IndyCar

Already a star in his native New Zealand, Dixon’s legend would only grow if he takes fifth IndyCar title

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Scott Dixon has finally started to receive recognition in the United States, after climbing to third on the all-time IndyCar wins list and putting himself in position to possibly win a fifth Verizon IndyCar IndyCar Series title.

However, in his native New Zealand, Dixon has been a long-time star and one of its great sporting heroes.

Case and point, the New Zealand Herald has spotlighted Dixon in post-race features after every Verizon indyCar Series event this year, meaning Dixon is very much a focal point of their racing coverage. (An archive of the New Zealand Herald’s coverage of Dixon can be viewed here).

Last year, the New Zealand outlet Driven published a story examining how Dixon might be one of, if not the most, underappreciated drivers ever.

“I think he’s extremely underappreciated,” said Ryan Hunter-Reay in that piece. “I think he’s a legend for what he’s accomplished. I don’t want to say that too much because I’m racing against him every weekend.”

He added, “It’s been amazing what he’s been able to do. And through the eras of IndyCar racing, this is the tightest it’s ever been. The data shows that. From P1 to P-last, whatever that may be, this is the tightest Indycar has ever been. To be consistent nowadays, it seems to be even harder.”

The extensive coverage Dixon has received also extends into Australia, where he spent his formative years as a racing driver. Speedcafe, one of Australia’s leading motorsports news outlets, has been analyzing Dixon’s place among the greats for years now – going back to 2015, they posted a story on Dixon passing Bobby Unser on the all-time list. (This came after his win in that year’s Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach).

Speedcafe took their honoring of Dixon further with a look back to his days racing in Australia, highlighting a specific race of his at Sandowne Racecourse in 1998, when he was competing in Formula Holdens.

You get the idea. When you go to New Zealand, or even Australia, Dixon’s star power is immense. Of course, his popularity is expected to grow even more with Born Racer, the documentary profiling Dixon, set to the released this month.

Dixon is already well placed among the legends to come out of New Zealand’s motorsports scene. Such names include Denny Hulme, former Formula 1 world champion, and Bruce McLaren, himself a race-winning Formula 1 driver before founding the McLaren racing team.

Other New Zealand racing heroes include current stars like Earl Bamber (former overall winner of the 24 Hours of Le Mans and current factory sports car driver with Porsche), and Brendon Hartley (also a former Le Mans winner, and current Formula 1 driver with Toro Rosso), along with pioneers like Chris Amon (widely regarded as one of the best drivers to never win an F1 race).

In some ways, Dixon may have passed several people on that list, at least in terms of racing accomplishments. In addition to his IndyCar championships, he has an Indianapolis 500 triumph, and a pair of overall wins in the Rolex 24 at Daytona (and a GTLM class win in that event as well).

And another IndyCar championship would only add to his legendary status, and make him even more popular in his home country.

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Sprint Car driver Greg Hodnett killed in Pennsylvania race crash

Photo: World of Outlaws
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YORK HAVEN, Pa. (AP) — Sprint Car driver Greg Hodnett died after a crash Thursday night at BAPS Motor Speedway.

The 49-year-old Hodnett, from Spring Grove, Pa., was the World of Outlaws Rookie of the Year in 1993 and went on to win 20 World of Outlaws races. He won the opening night this year at the Knoxville Nationals.

“Greg represented the true gentleman competitor in the pit area,” World of Outlaws CEO Brian Carter said.

A statement was posted on Hodnett’s racing website, saying: “Please keep (wife) Sherry, the entire Hodnett family, and the Heffner racing team in your thoughts and prayers.

“Greg was a professional in every sense of the word, and will be desperately missed!”

Several NASCAR drivers took to Twitter to express their condolences: