A stage for learning

To most people, Target and IndyCar driver Scott Dixon is known for tearing up racetracks and bringing home championship trophies. But to one person, Dixon’s main job is reading bedtime stories.

Starting her love of learning early on, Dixon reads to his two-year-old daughter Poppy every night.

“That’s the time she loves to read,” he said. “It’s a great attribute to have growing up, and if you can start from a young age, you’re going to love it.”

Two weeks ago, Dixon stepped up from dad duty to read to a group of more than 150 students in the Jamestown Community Center after-school program at Caesar Chavez Elementary School in San Francisco. Excited kindergarten through fifth graders listened to the IndyCar champion read K.C. Kelley’s NASCAR Racing to the Finish before awing over his No. 9 Target car.

Dixon, who finished in the top five in the Sonoma Indy Grand Prix that weekend, was eager to help support longtime sponsor Target and their commitment to education. During the event, Dixon also announced Target’s donation of books to each of the children who attended the event, as well as $2,000 to help fund books for the library.

“Reading is such an important part of life,” said Dixon.  “The educational side is the biggest part for me. Now it’s almost a new found love [of mine] because of my daughter.”

In the schoolyard, Dixon showed off his No. 9 car, chatted about his favorite books and revealed his pre-race rituals.

We know you love reading to your daughter. What are her favorite books?
Scott Dixon: Mostly a lot of animal books like Clifford the Big Red Dog, Baby Dear, and Good Night Moon.

What are some of your favorite books?
SD: I’m a nut for autobiographies, so for me it’s always been sports books. Lance Armstrong books, books on rugby and by Mark Ellis.

You’re pretty speedy on the track. Are you a fast reader as well?
SD: I wouldn’t say I’m a fast reader. I read at a steady pace and take it all in. My sister is brilliant – she can read massive novels over two days.

Do you have any pre-race rituals?
SD: I make sure I have a good meal before the race. I like to just chill and find a nice spot to take a nap; it helps get rid of the nerves. I do a lot of other things too. I put my right glove on before my left glove and get in the car from the left side – silly little things that help trigger your mindset for the race.

When you’re racing around the track, what’s on your mind?
SD: You’re always trying to think ahead. There are so many different things to think about in IndyCar racing now. You’re thinking strategies. Do I need to save fuel? Do I need to try and break away? Do I need to pass the car in front of me? You’re always thinking ahead of yourself so you’re not stumped by something that happens last minute. For me, the mind is clear but you’re always processing things that are coming at you.

What’s special about the Sonoma race?
SD: The most special part is the setting – it’s very beautiful. It’s almost like you’re in a big carved out bowl. As a fan and spectator you get to see the whole race, which, for road courses, is not something you always get. You can’t beat the vineyards. It’s wine country!

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