Every Memorial Day weekend, IndyCar drivers set their sights on winning the Indianapolis 500, aka the "Greatest Spectacle in Racing."
And some drivers, such as Scott Dixon, make a spectacle of themselves off the track.
Like when the 33-year-old New Zealand native was shooting a Target commercial.
"We were in Vegas and did burnouts on a little suburban street," Dixon said. "Seeing the expressions on the natives' faces [was funny]."
On Sunday, he and 32 other drivers will compete in the most illustrious race of the Verizon IndyCar series' season. Dixon, a three-time series champion, is looking for his second Indy 500 victory. He will start the race in 11th position.
Dixon has more wins (33) than any active driver in the series. He spoke with RedEye about racing in Chicago, life outside the track and getting the best of his wife in their prank war.
What does the possibility of winning the Indy 500 again mean to you?
Every year we have two goals: First, win the Indy 500, and second, win the championship. In 2008 I was the winner. … Winning it once makes me more motivated to win again. We didn't qualify that well this year, but it's still a great spot to win from.
The Indy 500 winner traditionally chugs milk at the end of the race. Would you rather it be chocolate, or anything else?
I like to stick to tradition. I'm not sure when the milk tradition started. Back in 2003 we had a choice of strawberry or chocolate too. I think it was more of a joke, though; I don't think anyone actually did it.
What do you think about IndyCar ever coming back to Chicago?
I would love to come back to Chicago. That was our championship finale; it was a fun town to celebrate in. The racing was always good at Chicagoland [Speedway]. The formula is good for mile-and-a-half tracks.
What does Chicago mean to you with respect to your 1999 victory at Chicago Motor Speedway?
It was my rookie year in America—it was my first year in America and in Indy Lights [essentially IndyCar's minor leagues]. To get that victory on an oval, which are native to America, was special.
Have you toured Chicago?
When we raced here, we stayed in The James Hotel. With my family we've gone to Navy Pier. There are a lot of restaurants and shops. It's hard to bring my wife here because she doesn't treat the credit card very well. [Laughs.]
Do you have a favorite pizza place in Chicago?
I don't know all the places. I like cheese, or pepperoni and cheese.
What's pizza like in Australia and New Zealand?
We have Pizza Hut or there's Italian places. Pizza isn't something we eat a lot [in New Zealand].
Do you prefer road courses or oval tracks (like at the Indy 500)?
The IndyCar Series is mixed [between ovals and road courses], which makes the IndyCar championship so unique. It is the only formula in the world like that. I raced road courses in my childhood. My first love is road courses, but I love the challenge [of oval tracks].
How do all the drivers in the garage area get along?
The majority gets on really well. People fall out occasionally. For me, Dario [Franchitti], [Ryan] Briscoe and Juan Pablo Montoya are my closest teammates and friends. It's a close environment; there are a lot of drivers with young families. Everybody gets on pretty well.
Is there every any carry-over from an incident on the track?
There's a little carry-over effect. Generally, most people are good at talking about it and clear it up. Some situations do cross over.
What's your favorite type of "regular" car?
I'm a race car driver, but I'm not a big car guy. [Fellow drivers] Dario [Franchitti] and T.K. [Tony Kanaan] drive cool cars, but I drive a free Chevy Tahoe from our engine department.
What's your craziest/most memorable fan experience?
They are all different and touching memories. The best ones are at Target House and St. Jude's. The crazy fans are when you are asked to autograph a boob or an arm. The craziest place I ever signed an autograph was a 4-month-old baby.
Where did you sign the baby?
On the arm.
How did the social media pranks start between you and your wife? Who's winning?
It comes and goes. She got me pretty good with a picture she posted about a month ago [with an Instagram photo of Dixon "wearing" her lingerie]. She's not a very good at parking, so I got her for that [on Twitter]. We have a great relationship and good banter.
What's the scariest crash you've been a part of?
The biggest was in Japan in 2003. It was T.K. [Tony Kanaan] and myself. I broke my ankle, wrist, hand and pelvis. Even though I was in the hospital in Japan, they only set you with aspirin. I was glad to be back in the States. That was the biggest crash. We all understand the risks. With modern day safety, it's safer than it was back in the '50s, '60s and '70s when drivers would lose friends every week.
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