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Borg-Warner Trophy Has Hit Road with Varied Itinerary through the Years

The Borg-Warner Trophy is one of the most prestigious and recognized sports awards in the world, honoring every driver who has won the Indianapolis 500 presented by PennGrade Motor Oil since the race’s inception in 1911.

While its permanent home is in the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Museum, the trophy has traveled to a variety of interesting places through the decades, hitting the road more often in recent years to delight fans and promote “The Greatest Spectacle in Racing.”

2017 Indianapolis 500 winner Takuma Sato will unveil his sterling silver likeness on the Borg-Warner Trophy at 5 p.m. Tuesday, Oct. 17 at the Museum. His face will become the 104th likeness on the famed trophy.

Some of the trophy’s travels have been short trips in the Indianapolis area, such as appearing at nearly every pre-race Public Drivers Meeting at IMS and post-race Victory Celebration in Indianapolis since the 1950s. It also was on display on the ESPN “SportsCenter” set at the track in 2016 during the 100th Indianapolis 500 presented by PennGrade Motor Oil.

The Borg-Warner Trophy was seen sporadically in “day after” photos featuring the new Indianapolis 500 winner until 1981, when Mario Andretti posed with the trophy after being deemed the winner after a controversial result that later was overturned, giving Bobby Unser his third and final victory. The “Borg” has appeared in the “day after” shots every year since 1981.

Staying close to home, the Borg-Warner Trophy also has been on display at numerous Indiana Pacers’ games, the PRI industry trade show in Indianapolis, Indianapolis-area school visits and was brought to the Chip Ganassi Racing headquarters in Indianapolis for the retirement announcement of three-time Indianapolis 500 winner Dario Franchitti in 2013.

Detroit has been a frequent stop on trips for the trophy. It has appeared many times at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit, where the smaller version of the trophy, the “Baby Borg,” is traditionally presented by BorgWarner executives to the winning team owner and driver from the previous year’s race. While in the Motor City, the full-sized Borg-Warner Trophy also has appeared at a few Detroit Pistons games.

The Borg also paid a visit in 2016 to one of the most iconic sporting venues in America outside of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, Wrigley Field in Chicago. Maybe that appearance brought good luck to the Cubs, who later that season won the World Series to end a 108-year drought.

While the Borg-Warner Trophy’s permanent home is in Indiana’s capital city, the worlds of racing and politics also have blended when the trophy has visited our nation’s capital, Washington.

The Borg escorted Indianapolis 500 winner Buddy Rice and the Rahal Letterman Racing team to a visit at the White House after Rice’s victory in 2004. President George W. Bush admired the trophy and Rice’s race-winning car in an outdoor ceremony on the White House property.

2014 Indianapolis 500 winner Ryan Hunter-Reay brought the Borg to D.C. in March 2016 during the buildup to the 100th edition of “The Greatest Spectacle in Racing,” showing off the trophy to many prominent politicians, including Speaker of the House Paul Ryan.

The Borg-Warner Trophy also has graced many stages and even a movie set in the entertainment world.

Sam Hanks was invited to appear with the trophy on “The Ed Sullivan Show” after his victory in 1957. In 1969, the Borg-Warner Trophy appeared in scenes from the Hollywood film, “Winning,” filmed in 1968 and starring Paul Newman as an Indy 500 driver.

The trophy also appeared on the set of “The Late Show with David Letterman” in 2013 when that year’s race winner, Tony Kanaan, appeared on the show and the following year with 2014 winner Ryan Hunter-Reay. Iconic late night talk show host Letterman knows all about the majesty of the trophy, as he grew up in Indianapolis, was a turn reporter on the IMS Radio Network broadcast of the “500” and was a co-owner of Rice’s winning car in 2004.

Trips for sponsor and team functions also have been on the Borg’s itinerary.

The trophy traveled to Penske Racing headquarters in Mooresville, North Carolina, to be photographed for the team’s holiday card in 2015. The Borg also traveled to Charlotte, North Carolina, to be included in a display at the NASCAR Hall of Fame honoring the 50th anniversary of the founding of Penske Racing.

Employees of IndyCar Series title sponsor Verizon, located in Basking Ridge, New Jersey, also saw the trophy during its trip to the company’s headquarters in Basking Ridge, New Jersey.

The Borg-Warner Trophy also has shared the spotlight with two iconic award cousins in recent years at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. The Trophy and the Stanley Cup – awarded annually to the NHL champions – stood on the Yard of Bricks for a photo shoot, and the Borg and the Harley J. Earl Trophy – awarded to the winner of the Daytona 500 – also appeared at IMS for a media function.

While the trophy’s trips have taken it all across the United States, its “passport” never has been stamped for travel outside of the “Lower 48” of the United States. But that may change in the coming months, as the Borg-Warner Trophy could go to Japan as part of the celebration of Sato’s victory in May. Sato, wildly popular in his home country, was the first Japanese driver to win the Indianapolis 500.

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Borg-Warner Trophy
Borg-Warner Trophy Has Hit Road with Varied Itinerary through the Years
The Borg-Warner Trophy is one of the most prestigious and recognized sports awards in the world, honoring every driver who has won the Indianapolis 500 presented by PennGrade Motor Oil since the race’s inception in 1911.
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