Dixon honored by Queen Elizabeth II with Order of Merit

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DETROIT – Five-time NTT IndyCar Series champion Scott Dixon has been racing royalty for much of his spectacular career. On Sunday, he became part of British Commonwealth royalty when he was honored by Queen Elizabeth II on the 66th anniversary of her Coronation as Queen of the United Kingdom.

Her Majesty the Queen appointed the Companion of the New Zealand Order of Merit to Dixon in recognition of his services to motorsports. Others also will be named to the queen’s list and this will be part of the Queen’s Birthday Honours 2019.

The Queen’s Birthday Honours List recognizes the achievements of a wide range of extraordinary people across the United Kingdom. The Queen’s Birthday Honours are a chance for the British monarch to commend national and commonwealth individuals who have made an outstanding contribution to society. The queen gives out honors twice a year, on New Year’s Day and on her official birthday, which takes place on the second Saturday in June.

The tradition was first instituted during the reign of Queen Victoria in 1860, with the New Year Honours added 30 years later. Today, the queen confers a variety of titles on people from a wide range of backgrounds and industries, and the awards are received at an Investiture Ceremony at Buckingham Palace.

Queen Elizabeth II’s actual birthday was April 21, 1926, but the Queen’s Birthday is the date she was coronated Queen of England. It was June 2, 1953, when she assumed the throne as the leader of the British Empire. New Zealand is part of the British Commonwealth and Dixon spoke of the prestigious honor on Sunday morning.

“You don’t have to call me Sir -- not yet, anyway,” Dixon said. “It’s a very prestigious award. It is different from racing. You never know it is coming and it is more of who you are as a person opposed to what you do in your career. It honors what you have done in your local community, whether it is in New Zealand or North America.

“This is an award that means a lot more. When you race for wins and championships, that is in your wheelhouse. This is something outside of your sport.”

It’s also more than a national honor. It shows the immense size of the British Commonwealth.

“Because of your peers and community to submit the hard work going into this, a lot of the credit goes to my wife Emma,” Dixon said of his London-born spouse. “The different things we do, whether it is the Humane Society or CAN-TEEN (Teens against Cancer), we do it as a team.

“It is very gratifying and special to be honored by that.”

Because of her English heritage, the honor is especially meaningful to Dixon's wife.

“It’s everything to Emma but even in New Zealand we are reigned by the queen,” Dixon said. “These things are really selective and nothing you expect, but I’m massively honored by it.”

Dixon will receive a proclamation and medals in a ceremony later this year, either at the New Zealand capital in Auckland, New Zealand, or elsewhere in the British Empire.

“If we can do the British ceremony in London, that is what we will try to do,” Dixon said. “What makes it so special is this is being honored as a person, not a race driver.

“It’s overwhelming in some ways.”

Has Dixon ever been to Buckingham Palace, the official residence of the queen?

“Just outside like everyone else,” he said.

Will this let him inside?

“Maybe,” he said. “We’ll have to see.”

Dixon’s team owner, Chip Ganassi, believes it’s a tremendous honor.

“It says a lot more about them than it does me,” Ganassi said of the Dixons. “It’s a testament to Scott’s life and I’m proud to be a small part of it.

“It shows that INDYCAR is on the world stage.”

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