LOS ANGELES – Scott Dixon and Alexander Rossi were all dressed up with places to go.
As nominees for Best Driver at tonight’s 24th annual ESPY Awards, the two Verizon IndyCar Series drivers were invited Tuesday to swanky private parties, where they were interviewed, videoed and photographed along with many of professional sports’ most accomplished athletes. Parties started early and went on until early today, when most decided it was best to head back to their hotels and get some rest before preparing for the show, which airs from the Microsoft Theater at 8 p.m. ET today on ABC.
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“All of it is quite interesting in a lot of ways, just for the sheer fact that you’re at the biggest awards event in the sporting world,” said Dixon, accompanied by wife Emma. “For me, you’re seeing a lot of people you admire.
“The drivers are very focused on motor racing, but we’re still into basketball, baseball, football and all of that. So to see a lot of these players that are the best in their own fields in person is pretty cool. It’s crazy to see the sheer size of these human beings.”
Rossi, winner of the historic 100th Running of the Indianapolis 500 presented by PennGrade Motor Oil in May, and Dixon, the defending and four-time Verizon IndyCar Series champion, started their day Tuesday at the ESPYs hotel, The Four Seasons in Beverly Hills, where they relaxed in The Players’ Tribune lounge – a hospitality area set with cookie, cupcake and candy stations as well as a bar and a variety of games. The drivers went for the more physical options, including Pop-a-Shot and table tennis rather than Connect Four, Jenga or 1980s video games, which were also options.
Also at the five-star hotel, ESPY nominees were offered free trips by Aruba Tourism in exchange for doing short videos for the bureau’s social media and digital channels. It didn’t take long for Rossi to decide that was a good exchange and he’s getting a free trip.
Later, the drivers headed to two private events: The Players’ Tribune party at No Vacancy in Los Angeles and the ESPYs kickoff party, “BODY at the ESPYs,” which also celebrates “ESPN the Magazine’s” body issue. Both were held in posh, multi-level clubs where athletes and sports media personalities mingled with other invited guests.
Rossi -- a huge football fan from California, shown above right at the Players' Tribune white room with a football -- was delighted when he saw Carolina Panthers quarterback Cam Newton arrive at No Vacancy. Newton and Peyton Manning are two he said he’d like to meet.
“The most interesting thing was coming to the body party at the ESPYs and just being involved with the other athletes that are here and seeing some guys that I’ve looked up to in the past year and really just appreciating the fact that you are in the same environment as people that are inspirations to you,” said Rossi.
Along with the party spectacle, Dixon said he was enjoying the relaxing fun sandwiched between a pair of Verizon IndyCar Series races – the Iowa Corn 300 where he finished third and Rossi sixth on July 10 and this weekend’s Honda Indy Toronto, where both drivers will head immediately following the ESPYs broadcast tonight.
“This is a nice getaway, relaxing a little bit at The Four Seasons but also coming out and spending time with some friends we haven’t seen in a while,” said Dixon, at right with Emma in The Players' Tribune white room, “whether it’s (motocross racer) Ryan Dungey and his wife, Lindsay, or maybe even Peyton (Manning) – people that we haven’t gotten to see for a while. It’s really cool just to be able to spend some time with Emma.”