CHAMPCAR/CART: Scott Dixon to run Laguna Seca open test for PacWest

(Indianapolis, In) – PacWest Racing Group will make a further investment into its long-term future when Dayton Indy Lights star Scott Dixon drives for the team in this week’s Champ Car open test at Laguna Seca in California. Dixon, just 20,...

(Indianapolis, In) – PacWest Racing Group will make a further investment into its long-term future when Dayton Indy Lights star Scott Dixon drives for the team in this week’s Champ Car open test at Laguna Seca in California.

Dixon, just 20, leads the Dayton Indy Lights championship having won three of the seven races this season and will run at Laguna Seca on both Thursday and Friday – sharing the first day with regular PacWest Champ Car driver Mark Blundell and the second with his teammate Mauricio Gugelmin.

PacWest’s Vice-President of Racing Operations, John Anderson, made the decision to include Dixon in the open test after the young New Zealander produced some pleasing results in a recent private session at Putnam Park near Indianapolis which was run in both wet and dry conditions.

That “rookie” test was observed by regular Champ Car driver Memo Gidley who had no hesitation in recommending Dixon was good enough to drive in the Laguna test.

“There is no doubt that Scott is doing the job for us in Indy Lights and that he deserves some more time in a Champ Car,” said Anderson.

“Part of Scott’s contract involves several days of Champ Car testing, but this test is not just about that. We certainly see Scott and his Indy Lights teammate Tony Renna as part of our long-term future and we must create every opportunity for them to gain experience in these cars.”

Dixon won the opening two races of the Indy Lights season at Long Beach and Milwaukee before winning his second consecutive race at Chicago in his #17 Invensys/Powerware sponsored car.

“My contract included some Champ Car testing, but certainly running a CART open test is more than I expected,” said Dixon.

“I have to thank Bruce McCaw, John Anderson and the rest of the team for giving me this opportunity to gain such valuable experience.

“Everyone knows I have driven a Champ Car before, but a CART open test is a totally different ball game. I will be running at speed with several other cars on the track at the same time – when you look at it like that it is certainly the next step in my career.

“At the same time I am not getting too carried away. My main priority is to win the Indy Lights Championship.”

Dixon joined the PacWest Lights team this year after a debut season with Johansson Motorsport in which he won at Chicago from the pole and finished fifth in the championship – missing rookie of the year honors by just one point.

Like so many more before him, Dixon started karting in his native New Zealand.

At the age of just 13, Dixon was granted a special Motorsport Association of NZ “Junior License” which allowed him to take compete at club and national level even tough he was still a couple of years away from being granted a regular road-going permit.

He qualified fourth and finished third in his first ever Formula Vee race and went on to set lap records and win races on his way to the 1993/94 national championship. While still just 13 years of age he had his first taste of Formula Ford racing, competing in the 1994 NZRDC Winter Series before - at age 14 - contesting the Class 2 category of the 1994/95 New Zealand Formula Ford Championship.

Dixon had his first taste of Formula Ford the same year and finished second in the national Class 2 category before winning it outright the following season. The 1996/97 season would see him win the Class 1 title in record fashion with eight wins from 15 starts.

He then accepted an offer to drive in the Australian Formula Holden Championship – a single-seater “wings and slicks” category – in which he finished third and was named “Rookie of the Year” despite a tight budget and high school studies back in New Zealand.

That performance won him a drive with the top FH Racing team and when he returned to Australia in 1998 he proved immediately competitive and went on to win the championship – with one round to spare.

On the strength of that win - and a lap record-breaking test at Sebring - Scott was signed by the Stefan Johansson Motorsports team to drive in last year’s Dayton Indy Lights Championship

He immediately made an impact by qualifying fourth and finishing third in his debut race at Homestead-Miami Speedway and then finishing second in the next event at Long Beach.

<pre> 2000 DAYTON INDY LIGHTS RESULTS Date Event Qual Finished April 16 Long Beach 2nd 1st June 4 Milwaukee Pole 1st June 18 Detroit 4th 4th June 25 Portland 8th 11th July 22 Michigan 13th 14th July 30 Chicago 3rd 1st August 13 Mid-Ohio 8th 2nd

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Series IndyCar
Drivers Stefan Johansson , Memo Gidley , Scott Dixon , Mauricio Gugelmin , Mark Blundell , Tony Renna , Bruce McCaw , John Anderson