Dixon, the four-time and reigning series champion, and Rossi, who won the 100th Running of the Indianapolis 500 on May 29, are nominated for the "Best Driver" ESPY along with three drivers from other racing disciplines. One will win, based on online voting that is open until the show airs at 8 p.m. ET Wednesday on ABC. (Vote for Rossi or Dixon by clicking here.)
Festivities kicked off today, with Rahal playing in the 2016 ESPY Celebrity Golf Classic in Newport Beach, Calif., along with basketball legend Julius "Dr. J" Erving, Heisman Trophy winner Tim Brown and other sports greats and celebrities. The event raises money for the Stuart Scott Memorial Cancer Research Fund at The V Foundation for Cancer Research.
"While I certainly don't feel like I fit the 'celebrity' mold to the level of folks like Dr. J, it's very cool to be invited by ESPN and be in this great field of sporting all-stars," Rahal said.
Rossi appeared Monday on "The Rich Eisen Show," then headed off to meet Motor Trend's Carlos Lago, who let him choose among a lot of supercars to take for a spin. Rossi picked the Acura NSX and Rossi and Lago, both Californians, took it for a cruise. Then came lunch in Beverly Hills and questions from a TMZ reporter.
"It's different," Rossi said of the L.A. experience thus far, "but I think it's a wonderful thing for the INDYCAR championship and hopefully will lead to building some momentum stateside. I hope we can capitalize on it in the best way possible and me personally doing the same thing."
Tonight's schedule includes a pair of invitation-only parties – The Players' Tribune party and ESPN's ESPYS kick-off event at the historic Avalon nightclub in Hollywood. Dixon and Rossi will walk the red carpet Wednesday before the ESPYs broadcast.
"It's a tremendous honor to be nominated alongside so many other great drivers for this award," Dixon said. "I've been nominated once before but never had the opportunity to attend the ESPYs. I'm looking forward to the event and seeing who comes out on top in all the categories involving so many top-level athletes from around the world of sports."