By Frank Santoroski
Scott Dixon is a two-time IndyCar Series champion, an Indianapolis 500 winner and the winningest driver in the history of the Indy Racing League. While most of the general populous couldn’t pick him out of a lineup, he’s a household name among IndyCar fans. In our household, however, he has a different name: Scotty Diskon. I know it seems odd but, indulge me here, and I’ll share the story.
Back in 2008, I had spent the weekend at the Kentucky Motor Speedway covering the IndyCar event for ‘Kentucky on Tap’ magazine. On Monday, the back seat of my car was still loaded down with Media Guides, race programs, and other IndyCar promotional items, brochures and photos. My young daughter, just four years old at the time, was rifling through all my stuff as I drove her to pre-school.
“DADDY!”, she exclaimed, shoving a picture in my face while I was trying to drive, “Who’s this guy?”
‘That’s Scott Dixon.” I said.
“Oh my….” She said. After a long pause, she proudly declared, “Scotty Dixon is my favoritest race car driver.” But, in her four year old voice, the pronunciation sounded like Scotty Diskon. The name just stuck, I’ve been calling him Scotty Diskon ever since.
To this day, I cannot tell you exactly what it was about Scott Dixon’s picture in the program that caught Samantha’s eye, but she has been a loyal fan ever since. On Sunday afternoons while watching IndyCar races, she would periodically check in with me to see how her hero was doing. If Scotty Diskon was in the lead, she’d sit and watch with me. If not, she instructed me to let her know if he got close to the front, so she wouldn’t miss him winning a race. She explained to me that racing was ‘boring’ if anyone else was in the lead.
Scott Dixon has always seemed like a bit of an enigma. If you look at his many career successes and the overall length of his racing career, you would think that he’s one of the older guys in the sport. But, in fact, he is only 32 as of this writing, seven years the junior of his teammate, Dario Franchitti.
A native of New Zealand, Scott Dixon was born into a motor racing family; both his mother and father were dirt track drivers. He entered his first karting race at the age of seven. When he was thirteen, he obtained a special dispensation to obtain a competition driving license, and won a Formula Vee championship at the age of fourteen. When Dixon won his first major U.S. open wheel race in the CART series, he still wasn’t old enough to sip the champagne.
In 2009, I was covering the IRL race at Kentucky Speedway again. Saturday was a washout with wet track conditions cancelling all racing activity. It seemed like a good reason to hang up my press badge for the day and bring my wife, Laura, and our two children along to the track for the autograph session. Samantha was going to be able to meet her racing hero.
As we waited in line, Samantha’s anticipation grew. By the time we got to the front of the line, she gushed and blurted out….”Scotty Diskon..YOU are my favoritest driver ever!”
To be honest, I was mildly apprehensive. Dixon was a guy who earned the nickname ‘IceMan’ because he was very quiet, shy, reserved and focused. He rarely smiled and often seemed uncomfortable in public. I hoped that Samantha wouldn’t be crushed if he was anything other than she had imagined.
Turns out, my concerns were unfounded. Dixon was fantastic. He smiled broadly, he spoke to her very kindly, signed her Scott Dixon T-Shirt, and he signed a photo for her. Then he told her that he was glad to meet his biggest fan. It was one of the greatest experiences of her life.
The following day, Laura and I ran into Dixon in the pits. Laura thanked him for being so kind. Dixon remembered exactly who Samantha was, and told us that we had a very lovely daughter. Again, not exactly what you would expect from the ‘Iceman.’
Truth be told, Dixon really was the ‘IceMan’ in his early career. But things have changed. He married his sweetheart, Emma Davies, in 2008. They now have two young daughters of their own. Marriage and fatherhood seem to agree with Dixon, as he seems more relaxed, easy with a smile, and much more comfortable in interviews.
On the track, however, he remains as fierce a competitor as ever and a threat to win every weekend.
Samantha is almost nine now. Her little kid voice is gone and she speaks as clearly as any adult. Giant posters of Justin Bieber now hang alongside the Scott Dixon pictures in her bedroom.
But, I know that on March 24th, when I tune in to watch the IndyCar opener at St. Pete, she will tell me, “I’ll be upstairs, but if my driver is winning, come and get me.”
“You mean Scotty Diskon?”
“Daddy…Say it right, his name is Scott Dixon!”