Scott Dixon has opened up about the mammoth accident that brought his bid for Indianapolis 500 glory to an abrupt and spectacular conclusion, adding he was ‘so lucky’ to avoid serious injury.
On an eventful weekend for the Kiwi, Dixon had qualified on pole for the race only to then be left shaken when he and Dario Franchitti were held up at gunpoint as they entered a drive-thru at a local Taco Bell after the session.
Then in the race itself Dixon’s car was sent flying into the barrier early on after being hit by Jay Howard, who was careering across the track following a hard hit with the wall. The Chip Ganassi Racing Dallara DW12 car struck the barrier sidepod-first and rolled over a couple of times before coming to rest, with only the survival cell around Dixon intact.
Suffering only a sprained ankle in the mammoth accident, Dixon – who will race with Ford in this weekend’s Le Mans 24 Hours – says watching the footage back shows how extraordinarily fortunate he was not be to be more hurt.
“The qualifying weekend was pretty interesting, getting the pole and then the situation at the fast food restaurant. Just highs and lows.
“For the race itself I think it was just disappointment. The effort that is put in and to have a situation like we did so early on, I think we had a very strong car, we were very aggressive at the start for finishing downforce level which
“When you watch you realise how lucky I was with pieces that missed me, the way I hit the fence, the way the car landed, Helio… it looked spectacular but it was two or three hits that dissipated the energy, especially on the way down.
“I remember looking down and thinking ‘this is high, this is going to hurt’ but thankfully it went like that, hit the back of the car… I remember looking up and seeing the x-bow housing of the gearbox and thinking ‘I wonder whose that is…’. I got out of the car and went ‘wow, that was mine!’.
“I think it was just disappointment. We would have been really fast at the end… but that is racing. I hate that saying, but it is, you have to roll with the punches! That place doesn’t owe you anything. You have to keep knocking on that door.”
Thankful for the strength of the Dallara chassis, Dixon nonetheless says IndyCar needs to keep pushing to ensure the catch-fencing is safer for drivers in high-speed airborne accidents.
“The fence is still an issue… if the car had gone frontal or sideways it would have been different, really bad. You couldn’t do much with that, obviously they have made very good steps to ensure the cars stay on the ground and it was pretty much a ramp, you won’t stop that.
“But I think the biggest issue right now is the fencing. They update us every year in areas they could maybe improve and I think they have made some smaller changes, but it needs a whole re-do but I don’t know how they would do that. If they do find a fix, Indianapolis would be one of the first to get it.”