“Unless he’s going really fast, he doesn’t feel alive.” – Emma Dixon
Those words spoken by the wife of 2018 Verizon IndyCar Series champion Scott Dixon, early in the “BORN RACER” film that chronicled his tumultuous 2017 season, cut to the core of the documentary that had its world premiere to an exclusive INDYCAR audience Monday night at the IMAX Theater at the Indiana State Museum in Indianapolis.
The project of Universal Pictures Home Entertainment, directed by Bryn Evans and produced by Matthew Metcalfe, becomes available on DVD and for digital download on Oct. 2. The Dixons, Metcalfe, fellow INDYCAR drivers and more were on hand to get the first peek at the feature-length documentary on what was appropriately proclaimed "Scott Dixon Day" in Indianapolis by Mayor Joe Hogsett.
All who attended said Dixon was a well-deserved subject, especially after the 2017 season depicted in the film was followed up this year by Dixon collecting his fifth series title. But with the unprecedented access that the film crew received into Dixon’s home life and the inner workings of his Chip Ganassi Racing team, the intent was to paint the complete picture of Scott Dixon.
“What you’re going to see is the complete man,” team owner Chip Ganassi said as the audience of some 300 was about to enter the theater for the premiere. “You’re going to learn there’s more to it than just showing up on Sunday and pushing the pedals and steering the car.”
Tony Kanaan, a close Dixon friend and Verizon IndyCar Series teammate for four seasons at Ganassi, agreed and was eager to see the portrayal of the man outside the race car.
“I hope they get to know the Scott Dixon that I know – the person, the human being, and not just the racer,” Kanaan said. “The racer, we know how successful he is, how good he is. But he’s even better as a human.
“That’s why you have so many people here. That’s our way to show respect to a friend and not because he’s a five-time champion or he accomplished anything on the racetrack. Those are trophies, those are good, but what we’re going to (remember) is the friendship and things we do outside the racetrack.”
Ryan Hunter-Reay of Andretti Autosport also agreed that Dixon was richly deserving of the recognition. With five championships, he trails only A.J. Foyt’s seven in Indy car history. Dixon’s 44 race wins are third behind only Foyt (67) and Mario Andretti (52).
“He deserves to be on a different level for what he’s achieved in this day and age of racing,” Hunter-Reay said. “As consistently as it’s occurred – his win numbers, his win ranking, his championships, his Indy 500 win. Unfortunately for us (competitors), he’s become a little bit too comfortable winning. He’s a great guy on and off the racetrack and no doubt a legend that deserves a lot of recognition.”
Metcalfe was fresh off producing a film about another famous New Zealand racer, “McLaren,” when he readily agreed to take on “BORN RACER.” Also hailing from New Zealand, Metcalfe had an extra connection to the project since his father competed against Dixon in some classic car events in their homeland.
The film focuses on the spectacular crash that Dixon had in the 2017 Indianapolis 500 – where he amazingly walked away with only a fractured tibia – and how he and the team dealt with the aftermath and how it affected his chance for the season championship. Dixon wound up third in the final standings behind Team Penske’s Josef Newgarden and Simon Pagenaud, underlining the theme Metcalfe took away from the effort.
“When you have a commitment to win, you also have a commitment to lose – and that’s a really amazing idea when you think about it,” Metcalfe said. “The truth of the matter is, when you go to win, you lose more often. When you commit to winning, it’s more likely that you’re going to lose.
“It’s not about whether you win every time, it’s about if you pick yourself up again (after losing). So, what I love about this film, what I’m so proud of, is we caught a moment in this team’s life cycle when it just kept getting the bad thrown at it and it kept picking itself up again. So, to me, the ending – winning (the season championship) in 2018 – is just so poetic.”
After seeing the premiere on the IMAX screen, Dixon called the final product – which included a graphic at the end pointing out his championship this year – “fantastic.”
“To make this happen and to see it now on the big screen – I’d only watched it ever on my little computer before – it’s really cool to see it and see all the storylines, and to see it come to completion,” he said.
As much as the film means to Dixon, his friend Kanaan said it’s just as important for INDYCAR as a whole.
“It’s huge. We’re on an up climb and we’re bigger than we’ve ever been in the past 15 years,” the 2004 series champion and 2013 Indy 500 winner said. “I think this is more, it’s creating awareness. It’s creating awareness of not just Scott Dixon, but INDYCAR and everybody else there is in this movie.
“I’ve never seen it in any other series, all your competitors promoting a movie about the guy that just won the championship and beat everybody else. That doesn’t make any sense, right? We’re all doing it because we all know, in the big picture, we all benefit from it.”