CHANG­ING GEARS

Why Scott Dixon’s driven by love

New Zealand Woman’s Weekly - - MILESTONES IN THE LIFE OF THE PRINCE OF WALES - Ellen Macken­zie

THE KIWI STAR DE­FIES DEATH BY DAY AND PLAYS DAD BY NIGHT

New Zealand rac­ing star Scott Dixon is well aware that every time he steps onto the track and gets in his car, it could be the last.

“Crashes are part of the busi­ness,” ad­mits Scott (38). “There are lots of things that run through your mind in an ac­ci­dent – I’m ba­si­cally just brac­ing my­self for the im­pact be­cause they’re just mas­sive. When you hit the catch fence, it’s like a cheese grater.”

The fa­ther of two has had his fair share of crashes but none as ter­ri­fy­ing as last year dur­ing an IndyCar race at Po­cono, Penn­syl­va­nia, where his car flew into the air be­fore hit­ting the fence and split­ting in half.

“I feel in­cred­i­bly lucky that I walked away with just a frac­tured an­kle,” Scott says. “Had the car turned five de­grees to the left, it would’ve been a much big­ger crash.”

His wife Emma Dixon (40) was at the race and saw the ac­ci­dent un­fold, along­side their daugh­ters, Poppy (9) and Tilly

(7). Her heart dropped as she in­stantly recog­nised the car in the crash as Scott’s, but she was re­lieved to see him scram­ble out.

“With the longer we’ve been in the sport, I do get anx­i­ety the morn­ing of the race. Some­times I don’t want to talk about it but while he’s get­ting ready and show­er­ing,

I’m en­ter­tain­ing and cook­ing break­fast for the girls and I am say­ing my prayers,” ex­plains Emma, who is a for­mer Welsh and Bri­tish run­ning cham­pion.

Though their daugh­ters don’t at­tend every race, the Olympic track star is very aware of the risk of them see­ing some­thing bad hap­pen to their dad.

“You def­i­nitely want to pro­tect them be­cause they do play and hang out with some chil­dren who have lost their dad in IndyCar, so they’re quite aware of the dan­gers,” Emma says, re­fer­ring to the tragic col­li­sion in 2011 in which Scott’s close rac­ing friend Dan Whel­don died at age 33, leav­ing be­hind a wife and two chil­dren.

“But I love it when Scott’s had a bad day and as soon as he sees the girls’ faces he just lights up. It is a dou­bleedged sword – I want them to be with us at the track and be with Scott, but in the same breath, of course I would hate them to see some­thing that they maybe shouldn’t.”

For Scott, the sup­port of his fam­ily means ev­ery­thing.

“Emma had a re­ally big ca­reer in run­ning so she knows the pres­sures and the feel­ings that you go through, which is why we’re such a good team,” he says.

“The fam­ily at­mos­phere for me has been such a pos­i­tive change. Com­ing home af­ter a bad race and be­ing able to to­tally switch off from rac­ing and hang out with the kids, play­ing with Bar­bie dolls or talk­ing about horses...

“Hav­ing kids is amaz­ing in its own right, but it has also helped me and my ca­reer.”

Emma knows many peo­ple ques­tion why she sup­ports her mo­tor­ing-mad hus­band in such a dan­ger­ous ca­reer con­sid­er­ing the risk of him dy­ing, but says she will al­ways stand by his side.

“Scott with­out rac­ing? I don’t know if it’s the same ver­sion I know,” she says with a smile. “He’s so pas­sion­ate about it – he’s all for the win. He’s not there for the jazz hands and the glamorous side of it; he re­ally is there for feel­ing the rush of the wind. I have to sup­port that side be­cause I know that’s what my hus­band wants. “

Scott has been nick­named “The

Ice­man” for his cool, calm and col­lected at­ti­tude on the race track and he’s usu­ally very pri­vate about his per­sonal life. The cou­ple have only re­cently opened up about their lives in a new doc­u­men­tary,

Born Racer: The Scott

Dixon Story. The movie fol­lows Scott, his rac­ing team and his fam­ily through his quest to win a fifth IndyCar cham­pi­onship. The in­ti­mate story doc­u­ments last year’s no­to­ri­ous crash and the fam­ily sac­ri­fices be­hind the race.

“The first time we saw the film, it was an emo­tional sit­u­a­tion for us,” Emma says. “As much as we live that life and we’ve seen it all first-hand, it was re­ally emo­tional and quite pow­er­ful.”

For Scott, bring­ing the film back home is a proud mo­ment. Though he’s been liv­ing in the US for a while, Aotearoa holds a spe­cial place in his heart.

“Grow­ing up in New Zealand has def­i­nitely shaped my ca­reer. You have that ‘never give up’ at­ti­tude – that whole process we have is very hard-work­ing and dif­fer­ent. I think that has helped my ca­reer tremen­dously.”

Scott, who was raised in Ma­nurewa, Auck­land, cred­its his Kiwi up­bring­ing for shap­ing his “never give up” at­ti­tude.

Scott’s fam­ily love the track but live in fear of crashes, like his 2017 scare at Po­cono. The nor­mally pri­vate star has opened up about his fast-lane life in a new doc­u­men­tary.

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