Words Wal Reid
There is nobody more parochial being a New Zealander than Kiwi IndyCar racer Scott Dixon. It permeates his manner, his image, even under that soft American lilt he proudly sports the blazing ‘silver fern’ on his helmet – there’s no doubt he’s definitely one of us.
The five-time IndyCar World Champion seems a strange choice of documentary subjects, however I was pleasantly surprised and really enjoyed a genre I normally would dismiss at a whim. Not only because he’s a Kiwi and joined the elite echelon of being one of only two people to win the IndyCar season five times, but also the humanistic side to the passionate racer; His drive to succeed and win. As wife Emma Davies-Dixon points out, “Unless he’s going really fast, he doesn’t feel alive”. Her words cut to the core, this guy really does live for the ‘thrill of the chase’ in one of the world’s most dangerous sports.
New Zealand has a rich history with motor racing, we’re actually quite good at it. Stalwarts like Bruce McLaren, Denny Hulme, Greg Murphy and Chris Amon, have helped pave the way for Dixon along with Millennials, Brendon Hartley or Hayden Paddon representing the exciting new wave of Kiwi Motor Sport racers. The film directed by Bryn Evans does a solid job following Dixon and his family around the Indy Car season as he guns for his fifth championship. Fans will know the 2017 season doesn’t go The Kiwi’s way, but Evan’s keen eye captures the ‘speed’, his family, his wife and kid’s, all entertainment value, less egotistical and more palatable (in a good way).
Hitting 5 or 6 g’s around a corner or braking at what seems like “300 lbs” of weight plus the deafening noise as the cars race the length of a football field every second, it’s a career choice most would walk away from or would even consider taking on. The dangers apparent as the deaths of Dan Wheldon (2011) and Justin Wilson (2015) are touched on, their deaths still linger affecting the team (Chip Ganassi Racing), while wife Emma’s worst fears are thrown up on the big screen as husband Scott’s fatal crash, seeing his car tossed in the air in one of the most horrific crashes in 500 history. It’s a sobering moment watching her husband limp off the track, and is every bit as tense as it sounds, more so on the big screen.
I recommend the film. Even if like me, you’re not a motor racing fan, it’s a fascinating story about a ‘chubby’ kid from Aotearoa who had a dream to drive IndyCars and pursued it to fruition. His parents lay heartfelt accolades for the ‘kid’, there’s nothing more magical and inspiring than that.