The Racing Capital
of the World
January 16, 2014 | By Dave Lewandowski
Nearly seven months removed from winning the Indianapolis 500 Mile Race, Tony Kanaan was pleased to fulfill a promise to his 6-year-old son.
Kanaan was presented the BorgWarner Championship Driver’s Trophy – commonly referred to as the “Baby Borg” -- by BorgWarner CEO James Verrier during a dinner at the Automotive News World Congress and surprised son Leonardo with a replica to display in his bedroom in Brazil.
“I promised him that I was going to get him a nice trophy,” Kanaan said after winning his first Indy 500 in his 12th attempt.
Leo inferred that it would be the Borg-Warner Trophy, which stands more than 5 feet tall and is valued at more than $3.5 million, so Dad had to “shrink the trophy to fit in a bag.”
Verrrier called Leonardo to the stage to present him a "mini Baby Borg" on behalf of the company.
The full-scale Borg-Warner Trophy, which contains the bas relief image of Kanaan (the 100th face on the sterling silver trophy), provided the backdrop for the presentation. KV Racing Technology co-owners Jimmy Vasser and Kevin Kalkhoven were both presented a BorgWarner Championship Team Owner’s Trophy.
The 14-inch-tall, sterling silver Championship Driver’s Trophy rests on a 4-inch by 8-inch beveled black marble base that includes a three-dimensional sterling silver image of the winning driver’s face hand-crafted by noted American sculptor William Behrends, and an inscription of the winning team and year of victory.
The first recipient of the BorgWarner Championship Driver’s Trophy was Rick Mears, winner of the 1988 Indianapolis 500.
"Now I know why all these guys enjoy winning Indy so much; they can celebrate for a whole year," said Kanaan, who will move the No. 10 Target Chip Ganassi Racing car for the 18-race IndyCar Series season that kicks off March 30 with the Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg. "A lot of things have happened since last May, and I have to say a lot of the good things that happened after the win was because of the win.
"There are days days when I go to YouTube and type in my name and Indianapolis 500 just to watch the final three laps. It's been a dream come true."
Also a replica of the Borg-Warner Trophy, the Championship Team Owner’s Trophy has a band of art-deco racing cars accentuated in gold to symbolize the importance of the team, recognize the importance of the team owner’s role in the IndyCar Series, and pay tribute to the value of teamwork in auto racing and the automotive business.
The inaugural Championship Team Owner’s Trophy was presented in April 1998 to Fred Treadway of Treadway Racing to commemorate the 1997 Indianapolis 500 victory of driver Arie Luyendyk. It also marked BorgWarner’s 70th year as an innovator in the automotive industry.
"The trophy really is a symbol of technology and innovation in racing," Verrier said, "and it's become the most prestigious trophy in all of sports. We are very proud and honored that we get a chance to be a part of the Indianapolis 500 and its iconic trophy."
BorgWarner and its predecessor companies have been associated with the Indianapolis 500 since that racing tradition began in 1911. The Wheeler-Schebler Trophy was awarded from 1911 through 1935. The trophy was named after Frank Wheeler, one of the Speedway's four original founders, and George Schebler, one of two partners in a carburetor company that merged into the group that formed BorgWarner in 1928. The founding organizations were Borg & Beck, Warner Gear, Marvel-Schebler and Mechanics Universal Joint.
The Borg-Warner Trophy made its debut in 1936 when it was presented to race winner Louis Meyer. Meyer said, "Winning the Borg-Warner Trophy is like winning an Olympic medal."
In 1935, the Borg-Warner Automotive Company commissioned designer Robert J. Hill and Spaulding-Gorham of Chicago to create the trophy at a cost of $10,000.
Unveiled at a 1936 dinner hosted by then-Speedway owner Eddie Rickenbacker, the Borg-Warner Trophy was officially declared the annual prize for Indianapolis 500 victors. It was first presented that same year to champion Louis Meyer, who remarked, “Winning the Borg-Warner Trophy is like winning an Olympic medal.”
The 98th Running of the Indianapolis 500 Mile Race is May 25.