Scott Ronald Dixon (born July 22, 1980) is a New Zealand racing car driver. He has always stated his determination to become a Formula 1 driver. He won the Indy Racing League (IRL) championship in 2003 at his first attempt.
Although born in Queensland, Australia, Dixon moved to Auckland, New Zealand at a very young age, and has always raced under the New Zealand flag. With the encouragement of his motorsport-mad parents, Dixon began racing karts before the age of 10. He experienced moderate success, but really caught the attention of the New Zealand public when he was granted a special dispensation to race a saloon car aged 13. New Zealanders can't get a road licence until turning 15. Dixon was entered in a one-make series featuring the Nissan Sentra. He had an immediate impact during the race at Pukekohe, near Auckland. The young Dixon rolled the car onto its roof, and caught national attention when he struggled from the upturned car with tears streaming down his face, and a pillow strapped to his bottom so he could see over the steering wheel.
Such misadventure didn't deter the chubby youngster. After his Nissan nightmare, Dixon went on to win every series he competed in.
1994 - 1997 Rapid Rise
Having won everything in his own country, Dixon moved to Australia for 1997, taking Rookie of the Year honours and third overall in the Australian Formula Holden (Formula 3000) series. He won the series outright in 1998.
1998 - 1999 Indy Lights
With backing from a consortium of New Zealand businessmen Dixon moved to the United States in 1999. After an extremely rapid first test he was signed to Johansson Motorsports Indy Lights team, beginning a long management association with the team's owner, former Ferrari and McLaren Formula One driver Stefan Johansson. He immediately impressed with his ability to learn, especailly on the oval tracks he had never previously raced on. He set a lap record when taking pole position for the Chicago oval race which he won. He was consistently fast throughout the year but experiencing five DNFs meant he placed fifth in the series.
For 2001 PacWest graduated the young Kiwi to its full CART team. Dixon immediately out-paced his team-mate, the former Formula One driver Mauricio Gugelmen. Dixon led his first race in Mexico for 14 laps. Just two races later in Nazareth, Pennsylvania he won. At the age of 20 years, 9 months and 14 days he became the youngest ever winner of a major open-wheeler race anywhere in the world. The victory was even more remarkable because the CART field at the time was extremely strong. Dixon scored championship points in 11 of 20 starts, and led the FedEx Championship Series in laps completed with 2,521 out of a possible 2,610. He won the Jim Trueman Trophy for Rookie of the Year and was a creditable eighth in the championship.
Dixon remained with PacWest for 2002 but it soon became clear the team was woefully short of cash. When it eventually collapsed Target Chip Ganassi Racing swooped, adding a third car to its squad to accommodate the Kiwi. It was his first experience of a true top-level team, which, with Toyota had a top-level engine supplier. Dixon adapted fast. He posted 12 top ten finishes, including a second place in Denver.
Indy Racing League
For 2003 Chip Ganassi joined CART teams Penske and Andretti-Green Racing in defecting to the all-oval Indy Racing League. A road racer at heart, with Formula One a strong ambition, Dixon was downcast about the move at first, rubbishing the performance of the IRL cars compared to the CART machines. But staying with a top team was vital to his career. Again, he adapted quickly, winning the season opener in Homestead, Florida. A tangle with Tony Kanaan in Japan left Dixon with a shattered hand, but he bounced back to take two more victories and win the championship at his first try. He also set a record with 343 consecutive laps led, a mark that will be very difficult for any driver to top.
However, the year ended on a tragic note for Dixon. Ganassi had recruited Tony Renna as his team-mate. The young American and Dixon were already close friends. But at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, during Renna's first practice session for the team, he spun across the track and became airborne. Renna's car his a post and crashed through the fencing at massive speed, splitting the car's cockpit. Renna was killed instantly.
Dixon's season as champion wasn't a happy one. The Toyota engine had lost its edge and Dixon endured a year making up the numbers. He did, however, have the opportunity to stake his claim for a drive in Formula One, when he tested for the Williams-BMW (see below).
If Dixon thought 2004 was bad, 2005 was an unmitigated disaster. Honda was the engine to have, the Toyota massively off the pace. Like Ganassi team-mates Ryan Briscoe and Darren Manning, Dixon fell into the trap of over driving to make up the deficit. The trio wrote off or seriously damaged 28 of the teams cars in a seemingly never ending series of crashes. Manning was fired, Briscoe lucky to escape with his life when his car blew apart after becoming airborne when the Australian touched another car. Amid rumours Dixon could also be sacked, the Kiwi bounced back, scoring his and the team's first win since 2003. Soon after Dixon resigned for a further two seasons with Ganassi.
Dixon performed a secret test with Prost Grand Prix junior Formula 3000 team.
But ironically it was BMW not Toyota who gave Dixon the chance to realise his ambition and drive a Formula One Car. At the Paul Ricard circuit in France, Dixon made a respectable showing during a one-day test. His times were not far off those of regualar driver Ralf Schumacher. However, a two day test six weeks later in Barcelona was not a success, with Dixon failing to gel with the team. He was not invited back. Although Dixon maintains his desire to break into Formula One is as strong as ever, it is difficult to see this happenining.
After attending one race meeting as an observer, Dixon tested New Zealand's A1 Grand Prix car during the sixth round of the series in Dubai. It is thought Dixon will get a feel for the car, before racing it during the A1GP rounds in North America and Mexico.