Scott Dixon talks Leadfoot Festival, Honda CR-Xs, and coming home
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After a whirlwind Verizon IndyCar Series season packed with ups and downs, New Zealander Scott Dixon is on his way to New Zealand to compete in the 2018 Leadfoot Festival on February 3 and 4.
“It’s never tough to go back to New Zealand,” he told Driven. “I love coming home. It’s a great opportunity obviously with Honda, and then there’s not too many places better than Hahei itself.
“I had a fantastic time there last time. It’s going to be cool to go back, I can’t wait.”
The 37-year-old left New Zealand to pursue a career in motorsport when he was 16. Returning to the country is an opportunity to reignite old relationships in the sport and enjoy time with family and friends.
“For me [last time] was a fun time to catch up with a lot of people I hadn’t seen for quite a few years, a lot of people I raced with when I was younger.
“The unfortunate part for myself is that I left New Zealand to go to Australia when I was 16. I came back periodically, but that’s kind of the time I ‘left’ New Zealand. There’s a lot of time, and a lot of people to catch up with.
“I like the social side of [Leadfoot], I think that’s what it’s all about. Plus you get to check out some really cool cars. New generation, old generation, and a lot of mixed in with Kiwi ingenuity.
“You don’t get too much relaxation, unfortunately. It’s going to be a slammed four days.
“But it is somewhat relaxed and it’s kind of nice, too, because it’s talking a lot about not the current-day stuff that you’re used to — whether it’s testing or IndyCar.
“It’s nice to just chat to people about being back home, growing up, and just feeling the whole New Zealand vibe.
“For me it’s nice to give back a little bit, I don’t get to experience it too often. And when I get back home, it’s just catching up with family and not doing too much outside or being too involved with the motor racing community.”
After hustling a classic 1906 Darracq Grand Prix car at the 2016 Leadfoot event, Dixon will step into another kind of car next year — the new Honda Civic Type R. Having recently sampled the hot hatch , he was impressed, as well as reminded of his first car; a Honda CR-X.
“It’s a hell of a lot of car for the price, but I think for me the biggest and craziest part was how it drove,” he said.
“It’s a really well-balanced front-wheel drive car. You don’t have a lot of torque steer, you don’t have a twitchy entry when you trail brake. There’s just a lot of things that they’ve been able to do with the drivetrain and handling to eliminate the real big fundamentals that front-wheel drive cars have problems with. And then the sheer fact that it’s a souped up Civic.
“Growing up, my first real road car was a CR-X ... 1600cc, VTEC, it had a Mugen exhaust and all that stuff. So it was like stepping back to my fun teenage years of a car that was a lot of fun to drive. But these are far beyond what they were in the 90s.
“It was cool to experience it but it also brought back a lot of fond memories.”