There are a little more than 260 days until the 100th running of the famed Indianapolis 500 takes place at Indianapolis Motor Speedway, and new Verizon IndyCar Series champion Scott Dixon is already looking forward to the May 29 event that will be televised live by ABC.
“I think to start, you feel privileged to be part of it,” said Dixon while at ESPN headquarters in Bristol, Conn., last week for a Car Wash after he won the series title for the fourth time with a victory in the Aug. 30 season finale in Sonoma, Calif.
“Hopefully I’ll be racing, barring injury or problems,” he said. “I’m just really excited. I live in Indianapolis, and already you see the city change and mold, and the city really embraces the 500 to start with. But already the preparations are moving forward with the 100th celebration.
“The long email lists of my friends, already asking for tickets and wanting to come, it’s going to be a special, special event. On the driver’s side, you’ve got a sense of wanting to win that race because it’s the 100th.”
The New Zealand native was visiting ESPN for the fourth time, having done his first Car Wash after winning his first series title in 2003.
“I remember that it was the middle of winter with three other drivers,” he said. “I flew up with Indy Car and the bus ride from the airport was very rough – and everything was just white with snow, so that was my first memory of coming here.”
Dixon said he enjoys watching ESPN, including SportsCenter, boxing and, most recently, US Open tennis. And he’s a fan of many sports.
“For myself, I love being outdoors,” he said. “I love athletics. My wife [Emma] was a runner for Great Britain in the 800 meters so track and field is a big thing. Triathlons, anything like that.”
In New Zealand, he grew up playing cricket and rugby.
“You had to,” he said. “It was part of school. Cricket in the summer and then rugby in the winter.
“I think it was probably when I was 13 or 14 I realized that rugby really wasn’t going to be my sport,” he said. “I actually went to a school that’s had a few players make it through from high school to the [New Zealand] All Blacks rugby team so they were much bigger than I was – after I got knocked over a few times, I figured out rugby definitely wasn’t my sport.”
— IndyCar Series (@IndyCar) September 1, 2015