At the side of all of Scott Dixon’s 48 career IndyCar race wins has been upbeat Kiwi mechanic Blair Julian who says the five-time series champion is the driving-force at Chip Ganassi Racing and an exceptional character that makes him one of the sport’s most complete drivers.
In many ways, the New Plymouth mechanic is the unassuming, unknown face behind Dixon’s success.
Julian was set to have crew chief for Dixon in last weekend’s Mid-Ohio doubleheader before a recent spike in Covid-19 cases in the United States led to a postponement of the event until later in the year.
The next race on the truncated calendar is now slated to be the hallowed Indianapolis 500, a race both Dixon and Julian triumphed back in 2008.
The duo has been inseparable since their chance meeting in 1998 when Julian and brother Anton took crew jobs at newly formed Indy Lights team Stefan Johansson Racing before Dixon completed a test for the team and ultimately signed a race deal the following season.
Countless race wins and championship titles later, Julian admits Dixon continues to lift the bar to get the maximum potential from the team and is the catalyst behind Chip Ganassi’s unprecedented success.
“He is a very special person who is super focused, very driven,” said Julian in the build-up to this week’s Indy 500 practice.
“His expectations are so high he lifts the whole team to perform at a higher level and the lengths he has been able to maintain operating at that level is very impressive.
“It is unfortunate people really don’t see what he goes through and what he does but he has committed his whole life to it and does a great job.
“I am lucky to have that chance to work with him for that long and it all sort of happened by chance.
“I was over here working for one of the teams and he came to test for the team who he ended up signing for. And when he signed I was lucky enough to be assigned to his car and I have been working with him since the start of ’98.”
Dixon kicked off his incredible 18th full-time IndyCar campaign earlier in the year with a hat-trick of race wins, with the Kiwi holding a sizable points advantage over the challenging pack.
With only double points on offer at a desolate Indianapolis Motor Speedway later in the month, a sixth career title is just a stone’s throw away for Dixon granted he avoids a disastrous second leg of the season.
A versatile Julian will act as crew chief, car controller and front tyre changer for Dixon at the Indy 500.
But the 2015 IndyCar’s Chief Mechanical of the year will also rely on the efforts of every team member within the Chip Ganassi organisation who individually play a critical role in Dixon’s on-track success.
“It is certainly a big team effort, and everyone has their own important jobs on the team,” added Julian.
“And if you have one part of that who drops the ball it affects us all.
“[But] there is no one big person who runs the team, everyone has their own roles.”
Qualifying for the 104th running of the Indy 500 will take place on Sunday morning NZT followed by the Fast Nine shootout the next day.
The 200-lapper will take place on August 24 from 5 am.