Dixon, his wife Emma, and their two daughters Poppy and Tilly went to meet some friends who live in St. Petersburg and enjoyed a quiet evening of conversation, wine, and taco bell (which Dixon said was “definitely my go- to ”despite an infamous drive-through visit three years ago).
“Gone are the days of big nights of partying, especially in this day and age,” Dixon giggled to NBC Sports. “I think I was in bed at 11:30 or midnight and was sleeping. It was actually a nice way to celebrate. It was good to wake up without a hangover and feel pretty good the next day. ”
With newborn son Kit (who was born in December) there was actually a silver lining from the pandemic that delayed the start of the indy car season. After a busy off-season that included the Rolex 24 (with the winning team) and Bathurst 12 Hours, Dixon was ready to spend a few months in lockdown to bond with his family, who travel often.
His girls attend school in Great Britain, but were able to take part in his title win at the St. Petersburg Grand Prix. Kit stayed with Emma’s family in the UK, which Dixon called “some kind of crap” but also offered an incentive. “It just means we have to try and seek another (championship) to get these pictures with him in the next year or two,” said Dixon, who turned 40 in July and doesn’t intend to join IndyCar anytime soon leave.
During an interview with NBC Sports Tuesday morning, Dixon reflected on the impact his family had on his results, his team’s makeup, how much longer he’ll be driving, and what IndyCar can expect:
Q: The Chip Ganassi Racing Twitter account
“We are soul mates. We’re completely different people, I’m pretty calm, pretty relaxed. She is British so they like to talk. She is very sociable. She really got me out of my shell I think, especially when we started dating and getting married (2008) and kids and all that stuff. I feel like we ricochet off really well, but she made me a better person and the attention to detail about family and what is really meaningful and things like that. We are a super close team. And I think we’ve always been there from the start. Obviously, your life changes a lot depending on whether you run to where you live to have kids.
“We’re a team, man. We talk through everything. I think she’s a great inspiration to me. You and Chip are probably the two most competitive people I’ve ever met. That she urges me when I come home sometimes, when it’s a bad time at any time of the year. It definitely holds the glue together in the family, but also motivates me. And I think she has her athletic side too and understands the importance of nutrition and rest and all those situations. And maybe even more this year, with lots of double-header weekends or back-to-back races or when she really doesn’t know what the landscape will be like, she’s always there with massive support. She gets a lot of credit for all the success, that’s for sure. ”
Q: Did she help keep things calm when you had the four-race tailspin in Mid-Ohio and Indy that brought the championship back into play?
“She got really stressed out. I think this year was very different for us and actually for a lot of people with the outside area, but only with the course of the championship. It’s the first time I’ve won a championship from start to finish. Then there was a little bleeding and then an attempt was made to stop the bleeding with Mid-Ohio and the Indy Road Course. It was the most stressed out thing I’ve ever seen because you see the end is near, but you don’t want to be one of those statistics. Luckily we were very lucky and are on the right side of where we came back from big deficits and even stole some championships if you will put it that way.
“Emma is a very emotional person. I think she supported me a lot during that time. She tried very well to contain her feelings. I think that was the greatest thing for her. I’m sure that in a few moments she just wanted to scream: “What are you doing?”
“I think the biggest thing for me is when I get home, man, I’m so happy to be home. And with the kids it gave them a slightly different way of looking at things, but also being able to let go of the intensity of the race. Having that weirdness at home and the support has helped a lot, especially in the last three to four championships. ”
Question: “Was this championship more difficult due to the pandemic-related restrictions and schedule changes, because there were things that could have worked with the last five titles, but not this time?”
“I think every championship is so different anyway. From how it starts to how it ends and what adversities you have throughout the season. The championships are like children, they are all loved equally, but they are all very different. A lot of it is really about the team. They are so strong there. You are very adaptable. They watch the championships that we won, not just me but with Dario, and go through the changes when it comes to a new aerokit motor formula on the aeroscreen. You can adapt these big changes very quickly. A great merit goes to Chip and his team, as well as our team and everyone who works together.
“The IndyCar series is so crazy there. You can never do the same. Check out the Indy GP for the Harvest GP. We dominated one but sucked on the next two. You go the same route, the only difference is the weather so it’s tough. These are the holes that you have to try to pull yourself out of. ”
Q: And one constant that you have is a team full of people who always stick together?
“You’re ruthless, man. And the thing is, when I walked through that door (in Ganassi) in 2002, it was extremely intimidating because I wouldn’t say they are the friendliest bunch. But you know that they are only there for a few reasons: out of love for sport and racing, but also out of love to win. ”
Q: Did you give more input to the attitudes of the guys on your team?
“I try not to get involved. I don’t feel like it’s my place. If I am asked questions, I of course give my two cents. But I think the team is good for a lot of reasons and they do it well. I am a pretty simple person. I try not to complicate things. I think when you start investigating who is doing what and who should be where it just gets so complicated. And I don’t want such decisions hanging over my head either. This has always been a great group of people. The team has a lot of depth. It’s been through changes, but the team obviously does a really good job of finding the people who need them, and they’re very good at keeping those people too. ”
Q: Will Power recently said he hadn’t lost touch and could at least drive until his mid 40s. How much longer do you imagine that and do you feel as good as ever?
“Will says that because he’s just turning 40 (laughs). Man i don’t know Again I feel so lucky to be doing what I am doing. I didn’t think it would take that long. But the fire burns strongly, the love of sport. I work with the best in the business. Of course, I don’t want to see this change for a long time. But obviously things do, so we have to see where it goes. Yes. I’ll be there for at least another two, three, four years, I think.
“Age is just a number for me. I don’t think it really is anything. I think it’s really about motivation. I think it’s about the people around you. But if you look at people like Sato at 44, hopefully TK will be back next year at 46. Jimmie Johnson stops by at 45. Jimmie freaked me out, man, with how intense this guy is and with what energy he is what he achieved. Man, he keeps blowing up my phone. ‘Hey what about this? Do you think we should do that? What about this workout? ‘Man, he’s full of it. It doesn’t slow down at all. ”
Q: It could be due in part to a youth movement in NASCAR that Jimmie and other veterans have faced over the past few seasons. Does it seem like IndyCar is about to undergo a similar change of guard when Colton Herta, Pato O’Ward Alex Palou, Rinus VeeKay, and others showed up?
“Yeah, man, I think it’s great. I think it’s so cool to see these young drivers get through. It’s huge for sports. It’s part of evolution. It will happen. You can’t stop it. I think what’s cool is that the talent that comes through is people like Herta, Pato, VeeKay, Palou (who was announced as a new teammate on Thursday), (Santino) Ferrucci to some extent is Felix (Rosenqvist) . and Marcus (Ericsson). There is definitely this change in the wax situation. You are really good. They are already starting to be title contenders. It’s not the time a couple of people come in for a year or two and then never really hear from them again. These will be staples of championship for a long time to come. And these are the guys you have to fight for championships against. Not just for racing weekends here and there. You start putting whole seasons together and then it gets delicate. ”
Q: The champion is often asked the big questions. What do you think is the biggest problem IndyCar should address now?
“I think that’s a question for a lot of people right now, but I don’t know man, it sounds like everything is really good, which is kind of shocking. You usually come to this part of the season and there are a couple of teams like, “Oh, we don’t know what we’re going to do next year. We don’t know if we’ll make it, ”or the manufacturers are discussing how long they will stay, but you look at Roger (Penske) at the situation with the manufacturers. IndyCar is super strong right now. I think we will have a bigger network next year. We could be 25, 26 cars, which I think is crazy right now. It is very good. The TV numbers were good. IndyCar has a great plan for the future with Hybrid and the involvement of other manufacturers. Everything now has structure and a sensible timing.
“I am impressed. Obviously it’s not just Roger, but I think it was a godsend that he got in at the point where he did. This gave everyone the stability and understanding that everything will be fine. Because (the pandemic) will bring a lot of series to the point in the next few years. I feel great for IndyCar. There are some amazing people running the show right now which is great to see. ”
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