A Day in the Life of a Honda Indy Toronto Intern: Media Day

May 25th, 2017
By: Christian Ryan

As two-time Indianapolis 500 pole sitter Ed Carpenter screamed around Indianapolis Motor Speedway for his last qualifying lap, two people looked on with great anxiety. One was Scott Dixon, four-time champion of the Verizon IndyCar Series and 2008 Indy 500 champion, who was sitting on pole position while hometown hero Carpenter attempted to knock him off. The other was myself, watching from my apartment in Toronto, knowing that if Carpenter was to come in second, then my upcoming interview with Scott Dixon was going to become an interview with 2017 Indy 500 pole sitter Scott Dixon.

The relief and jubilation that Dixon felt upon seeing Carpenter come up second fastest was in contrast to my more anxious excitement. It’s not that I am inexperienced in interviewing athletes, I’ve been lucky enough to interview and write on amateur and professional athletes alike for a few years now. My nervousness was instead caused by my lifelong fandom of IndyCar and the full appreciation that I have for the importance of the Indianapolis 500. While I’ve covered league and national championships in the past, none had the longtime personal significance of motorsport to me. The opportunity to get hands on experience in motorsport through an internship with Honda Indy Toronto was already an incredible, but to lead Scott Dixon through a media tour so shortly after taking the pole for the world’s biggest race was something I never thought I could take on so soon. While I have been obsessively following motorsport since childhood and writing on sports the past two years, I have only been at Honda Indy Toronto less than a month.

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Myself and Sarah Marie, another intern, picked up Dixon, his PR manager, and a videographer from their flight into Toronto. From there, it was a long trudge through traffic on to Sportsnet for Dixon’s interview on The Fan 590 radio station. The atmosphere in the car was far removed from the congested confusion of the streets, as the packed Honda Pilot was filled with chatter, laughter, and more questions directed at us about Canada than to them about racing. In one instance, while passing BMO Field, my knowledge of the history of the Toronto Argonauts was put to use for the first time in my life. The friendly and easygoing personality of Scott Dixon and his crew completely calmed my nerves and allowed me to focus on my job of guiding them through the media tour without worry.

As the media tour came to an end, it was time for me to interview Scott Dixon on his Indy 500 pole, as well as some insight to his approach to the Honda Indy Toronto and what makes him “Mr. Mid Ohio”. The interview, which at the start of the day felt like it was to be a major milestone that I was afraid to ruin, had instead become an easy and fun conversation about racing with the man who knows IndyCar better than almost any other driver on the track. After we had said our goodbyes and sent Dixon on his way back to Indianapolis, I realized that I had successfully lead a driver whose illustrious career I have followed for years, through a day of media events and conducted an interview with him without ever feeling the anxiety I felt watching Ed Carpenter fly around Indianapolis trying to claim pole position. Not only did the Honda Indy Toronto give me this irreplaceable experience through my internship, they helped show me that this is something that I can do. From a kid who doesn’t remember a life without IndyCar, I could not be more grateful to the Honda Indy Toronto team for this experience.