(Indianapolis, IN) - Young New Zealand talent Scott Dixon has ended months of speculation and has signed on the dotted line to drive in the 2000 Dayton Indy Lights Championship for the PacWest Racing Group. While many critics have been...
(Indianapolis, IN) - Young New Zealand talent Scott Dixon has ended months of speculation and has signed on the dotted line to drive in the 2000 Dayton Indy Lights Championship for the PacWest Racing Group.
While many critics have been predicting this announcement for sometime, the 19 year-old was not officially signed as a member of the PacWest team until several minor contractual arrangements could be settled this week.
With the paperwork done, Dixon now joins young American driver Tony Renna to form what is expected to be one of the most competitive teams in the Indy Lights series.
Both Dixon and Renna have tested together several times and will head to their final test in Phoenix today before attacking the first round of the 2000 championship at Long Beach this weekend
Dixon joins PacWest 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.
PacWest President, Bruce R. McCaw, welcomed Dixon to his team and said he hopes the teenager can continue on his winning ways in 2000.
"It took a little time, but we finally got all the paperwork done," said McCaw. "Scott (Dixon) proved in his debut season that he has what it takes to win races and I think he and Tony (Renna) form a combination strong enough to give us a serious chance at the championship. "We would certainly like to play a role in nurturing the careers of both Scott and Tony and see what opportunities arise in a couple of years time."
Dixon, who will be based only a couple of miles from the PacWest shop in Indianapolis, cannot wait to get back behind the wheel of a race car.
"PacWest is certainly one of the most professional racing teams in the world and it is a privilege to be a part of the organization," said Dixon. "I have actually been on board for a while, but it just took some time for everything to officially be signed - I think at one stage a FedEx bag was following my manager from country to country. "I learned a tremendous amount in my first season and I look forward to using that experience this year to win races and hopefully the championship. "I also expect to learn a lot from "Ziggy" (Paul Harcus) and hopefully be in a position where I can make a move up to Champ Car in the next couple of years."
PacWest Indy Lights team manager, Paul "Ziggy" Harcus, says he is as excited about the fast-approaching season as his two young drivers.
"There is no doubt that when I look at both Scott and Tony in the car I like what I see," said Harcus. "In a lot of ways they really compliment each other and help each other get on with the job. If they continue to have a willingness to learn and use the knowledge they gain, then there is no doubt that both drivers have a future at PacWest and in the sport."
Like so many more before him, Dixon start 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 "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 SH 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.