Dixon honored as New Zealand’s Sportsman of the Year
Reigning IndyCar Series and Indianapolis 500 champion Scott Dixon received the Sportsman of the Year award during the annual Halberg Awards ceremony Feb. 2 in Auckland, New Zealand.
The awards, organized by the Halberg Trust, recognize outstanding achievement by New Zealand sports men, women, teams and coaches over the previous 12 months.
"I was a little disappointed that I wasn't able to make it down," said Dixon, who grew up in Auckland. "To be honest, I wasn't ever sure that I would win that award. So, needless to say, I am over the moon that I did. A huge thanks to my family and the many supporters I had a long the way. Without them, none of this would have been possible. 2008 was a great year for me and my wife, and it looks like 2009 is starting off great as well."
Dixon won a series record-tying six races, including the 92nd Indianapolis 500 from the pole, in the No. 9 Target Chip Ganassi Racing car. He set the series record for laps led in a season (899) and won a record four races from the pole. Other finalists were Olympic board sailing gold medalist Tom Ashley, individual pursuit silver medalist Hayden Roulston, U.S. Amateur Golf champion Danny Lee and 1,500-meter bronze medalist Nick Willis.
In addition, several other key series partners will sponsor contingency awards to be given at the end of the season, including Lucas Oil Products (Rookie of the Year), Ethos For Earth Fuel Reformulator (Hard Charger Award), Mesco Building Products (Top Finishing New Team) and Mo's Gold Car Polish (Chief Mechanic of the Year).
Another key change to the series for 2009 is the move of the television package to VERSUS. The 1-hour, high-definition broadcasts will be packaged with IndyCar Series re-airs on the Monday following each race weekend.
"We've taken steps to enhance the television coverage of the series." Bailey said. "In working with our new television partner VERSUS and with support from Firestone, we will see a 58 percent increase in coverage over last year, and we will be in a place where viewers can find us on a regular basis."