Family

Emma Dixon: why I will always support my husband in motor racing - despite the risks

Emma knows many people question why she supports her motoring-mad husband in such a dangerous career considering the risk of him dying.

By Ellen Mackenzie

New Zealand racing star Scott Dixon is well aware that every time he steps onto the track and gets in his car, it could be the last.

"Crashes are part of the business," admits Scott (38).

"There are lots of things that run through your mind in an accident – I'm basically just bracing myself for the impact because they're just massive. When you hit the catch fence, it's like a cheese grater."

The father of two has had his fair share of crashes but none as terrifying as last year during an IndyCar race at Pocono, Pennsylvania, where his car flew into the air before hitting the fence and splitting in half.

"I feel incredibly lucky that I walked away with just a fractured ankle," Scott says. "Had the car turned five degrees to the left, it would've been a much bigger crash."

Scott had an incredibly close call in this 2017 crash at Pocono.
Scott had an incredibly close call in this 2017 crash at Pocono.

His wife Emma Dixon (40) was at the race and saw the accident unfold, alongside their daughters, Poppy (9) and Tilly (7).

Her heart dropped as she instantly recognised the car in the crash as Scott's, but she was relieved to see him scramble out.

"With the longer we've been in the sport, I do get anxiety the morning of the race. Sometimes I don't want to talk about it but while he's getting ready and showering, I'm entertaining and cooking breakfast for the girls and I am saying my prayers," explains Emma, who is a former Welsh and British running champion.

Though their daughters don't attend every race, the Olympic track star is very aware of the risk of them seeing something bad happen to their dad.

"You definitely want to protect them because they do play and hang out with some children who have lost their dad in IndyCar, so they're quite aware of the dangers," Emma says, referring to the tragic collision in 2011 in which Scott's close racing friend Dan Wheldon died at age 33, leaving behind a wife and two children.

"But I love it when Scott's had a bad day and as soon as he sees the girls' faces he just lights up. It is a double-edged sword – I want them to be with us at the track and be with Scott, but in the same breath, of course I would hate them to see something that they maybe shouldn't."

Scott's family love the track but live in fear of crashes.
Scott's family love the track but live in fear of crashes.

For Scott, the support of his family means everything.

"Emma had a really big career in running so she knows the pressures and the feelings that you go through, which is why we're such a good team," he says.

"The family atmosphere for me has been such a positive change. Coming home after a bad race and being able to totally switch off from racing and hang out with the kids, playing with Barbie dolls or talking about horses...

"Having kids is amazing in its own right, but it has also helped me and my career."

Emma knows many people question why she supports her motoring-mad husband in such a dangerous career considering the risk of him dying, but says she will always stand by his side.

"Scott without racing? I don't know if it's the same version I know," she says with a smile.

"He's so passionate about it – he's all for the win. He's not there for the jazz hands and the glamorous side of it; he really is there for feeling the rush of the wind. I have to support that side because I know that's what my husband wants."

Scott, who was raised in Manurewa, Auckland, credits his Kiwi upbringing for shaping his "never give up" attitude.
Scott, who was raised in Manurewa, Auckland, credits his Kiwi upbringing for shaping his "never give up" attitude.

Scott has been nicknamed "The Iceman" for his cool, calm and collected attitude on the race track and he's usually very private about his personal life.

The couple have only recently opened up about their lives in a new documentary, Born Racer: The Scott Dixon Story.

The movie follows Scott, his racing team and his family through his quest to win a fifth IndyCar championship.

The normally private star has opened up about his fast-lane life in a new documentary.
The normally private star has opened up about his fast-lane life in a new documentary.

The intimate story documents last year's notorious crash and the family sacrifices behind the race.

"The first time we saw the film, it was an emotional situation for us," Emma says. "As much as we live that life and we've seen it all first-hand, it was really emotional and quite powerful."

For Scott, bringing the film back home is a proud moment.

Though he's been living in the US for a while, Aotearoa holds a special place in his heart.

"Growing up in New Zealand has definitely shaped my career. You have that 'never give up' attitude – that whole process we have is very hard-working and different. I think that has helped my career tremendously."

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