Born Racer explores the death-tempting madness of Scott Dixon’s profession

You couldn’t have picked a more appropriate title for Scott Dixon’s story than Born Racer. Archival footage of Dixon as a shy preteen with a gift for go-karting makes it abundantly clear he was destined to grow into the quiet five-time IndyCar World Champion he is today. He’s also a good husband, a good father, a good son, and… well… there isn’t much more to it than that.

Thankfully, the film isn’t a simple 90-minute padding of his life story, choosing to use Dixon more as a centre point for exploring the absolute death-tempting madness of the sport itself. Dixon doesn’t push his limits just to win; he pushes himself for the sake of survival.

The GoPro age has allowed this film to get us closer to the action than ever before. It’s one thing to see a buzzing race track on television; it’s another to feel the buzz on the track in a cinema. Born Racer depicts the blistering speeds these vehicles achieve from a multitude of angles, none being more effective than the first-person perspective.

Dixon’s crew chime in with details about the extreme pressure a driver is put under, from anvil-heavy G-forces to inhumane levels of perpetual vibration. One scene skillfully intercuts Dixon’s intense reaction time training with swerves on the track, generating the unsettling impression that any room for error creates any room for death—and death happens.

You could call Dixon a #HumbleKiwiBloke for not making a fuss about his mortal coil, but Born Racer credits this quiet demeanour more towards his necessary, robotic focus. While such a character doesn’t serve that well as a biography subject, Born Racer works better as a knowledgeable front-seat experience to the thrilling, insane sport of professional racing.