Kiwi driver Scott Dixon has been praised for his “caring and sharing” attitude as he prepares for his latest tilt at the Indianapolis 500.
Dixon, the 2008 champion, is hellbent on winning another title but that hasn’t stopped him dishing out a helping hand to a young driver in the buildup to one of motorsport’s most famous races.
Dixon has been recording some of the fastest times in practice on the massive oval for the race which is held tomorrow week.
He’s also been busy mentoring American 19-year-old Sage Karam who has been going through the rookie orientation programme for the demanding assignment.
Karam raced with Dixon and fellow Chip Ganassi Racing driver Tony Kanaan at the 12 Hours of Sebring endurance race which they won before the IndyCar season started.
Dixon was impressed by Karam and has gone out of his way to make the youngster welcome, especially as the Indy 500 looms.
“Being 19 and having a guy of Scott’s stature to help is amazing,” Karam told USA Today Sports. “Scott wants to help out off the track. He wants to help me prepare mentally. He doesn’t have to do that, but he wants to, so I’m going to be a giant sponge. It’s almost like going back to school for me.
“I didn’t really know [Scott] too well before this year. When he found out I was joining the team, he contacted me on Twitter and wanted to help me. He wants to be my mentor, and that means a lot to me. He’s very straightforward. He loves competition, and he wants everybody to be at his level. He shares everything and is very open with me. It says a lot about his character.” Dixon, 33, the current IndyCar champion says Karam reminds him of himself as he tried to break into the game.
“Sage is a quick learner, but he’s quiet,” Dixon said. “I was the same when I first started. For a young guy, sometimes the toughest part is when you’re inexperienced and you’re lobbed in with a group of really good racers. It can be quite daunting.
“The hard thing now is that rookies are getting it rough in this day and age. I came in at a time when you could test a lot and you didn’t have restrictions on tyres and other things. It’s a lot for a young driver to learn without the track time to learn it. He’s a good talent, but he’s very young. He’s being thrown into the deep end at the biggest race of the year.”
Mike Hull, who has been Dixon’s boss since he joined the IndyCar scene in 2002, praised the driver’s attitude.
“It’s a calming influence to know that your best drivers want to help their younger team-mates. Scott certainly gives back and knows how important it is to give back. Sage had an opportunity to race with Scott and Tony [Kanaan] during the Rolex 24 at Daytona in January. Their relationship was good before that, but the relationship has strengthened from there.
“There are a lot of things he does that nobody ever sees. He gives back, and he does it just to give back. It has nothing to do with trying to enhance his brand or bettering his image or improving his career. It’s just who Scott is.”