Steve Dixon: A manager of many talents
Steve Dixon, owner of the Dixon Racing Team and involved in motocross at the highest level for several decades, is one of the iconic personalities in the GP paddock.
Mechanic, tuner, manager and organiser, Steve Dixon has a solid insight of racing over many years since he made his first appearance in the paddock! In common with many members of the GP paddock Steve was introduced to the sport as a competitor, but riding was not his main passion and in his mind he was never dreaming to become a champion.
“I came into this sport from the days when I used to modify my bikes at home; my first bike at the age of 12 was a BSA Bantam and it was because of this love for the technical side that I went into welding and engineering as a profession when I finished school. I never even thought about riding or working professionally with bikes; I just loved to work on the bikes as much as riding them and I was always looking to improve things. That is how I got noticed and was approached to be a mechanic in the GPs; until then I had never been a mechanic for anyone else even at local level. I have always steered my own path and not been afraid to try something different, so I went from a secure job with British Rail Engineering to being a GP mechanic; and in those days you had to be really involved as the bikes were not so strong or great compared to today’s technology. This has helped me a lot as a manager because I understand a lot of the mechanics need a bond with the rider; it’s also the reason I have trained my own mechanics and they in turn have trained others so we have had long careers from our mechanics as they also live locally,” explained Steve.
Of course he has lined up many British riders in his squad since turning to management, but thanks to his open mind he also gives a chance to many riders coming from all over the world; this season lines up New Zealander Courtney Duncan alongside Australian Wilson Todd.
“I think we are always looking for the surprise talent who just needs moulding to make the grade; in Europe we are saturated with teams and the riders like to stay in their home countries mainly. So it helps as we are an English-speaking nation to attract the rider who is just on the brink of making it from outside Europe. Anyone that moves halfway across the world to pursue their career has to have a lot of desire so that is a great starting point and I understand their needs a lot regarding home-sickness and missing their families. It’s like a game of chess. I think I may have taken more riders to their first 125/MX2 GP win that any other team – Malin, Jorgensen, Nunn, Mackenzie, Osborne, McFarlane, Ferris, Anstie – and I really enjoy working with any rider who wants to win as much as me. Arnaud Tonus was also a fantastic rider to work with, so motivated and always trying to improve and learn, and so were Brian Jorgensen and Kenneth Gundersen; and each rider has their own personality and is different to work with and learn. The British riders are different to work with as there is more understanding of the national culture and humour so I guess it seems less business-like when you have the likes of Billy (Mackenzie), Max (Anstie), Tommy (Searle) and Carl (Nunn) around but they are equally motivated. It would have been nice to have had Tommy when he was 16 and not in his late 20s as it would have been great to take him to the world title, although we did take him to his first adult British championship.”. Last season was a great one for DRT as Courtney Duncan grabbed the Women’s World title to deliver Kawasaki an FIM gold medal while Tommy Searle secured the British MX1 title.
With so much passion for the sport and so much experience as he has travelled all over the world to attend GPs Steve found himself wearing another cap when the British Grand Prix was in danger of disappearing from the world calendar.
“Because I run a team the British GP has always been really important for me and my sponsors, so when there was a danger of losing our national GP I wanted to do something and met the FIM and the promoter of the championship to know more about the situation. I organized my first GP at Matchams Park, which was our local track, but it was too small for a modern GP as you now need a lot of space; so I looked for a piece of land and I found the ideal venue at Matterley Basin. I don’t do it for the money, but we need to keep the sport alive in our country and if people like myself don’t help the sport we will die. It’s stressful but luckily I have a good team alongside me” said Steve, who is ready to restart the season as soon as the current crisis makes this possible. “We have used the time well during this enforced break from racing; I am always busy doing things and it has allowed me to do some extra jobs that will help improve the efficiency of the team at each GP in future. I don’t know if we will get eighteen more races in but we must prepare to do this if it happens; the calendar will look a lot different and it must be difficult at this stage with so many unknowns. Once we do get a final decision on how the season will run we can then plan the best strategy to suit the situation and this will be the key; I remember being away 263 days out of 365 back in the days when you would be travelling in the van together with the rider going from GP to GP to International to National race so it is going to be about good planning and efficiency plus managing the riders’ work load and recovery. We will be ready!”