This week’s North American International Auto Show in Detroit has been highlighted by some fun events that shift focus towards the Verizon IndyCar Series upcoming season. Wednesday night, there was a brief amount of time spent in Detroit to celebrate an annual offseason highlight.
Defending Indianapolis 500-winning driver Takuma Sato and winning car owner Michael Andretti both took the stage to receive their replica Borg-Warner Trophies, known as “Baby Borgs”.
Sato, who won the Greatest Spectacle in Racing in his eighth attempt, prevailed over Helio Castroneves, Ed Jones and Max Chilton in a thrilling late-race duel. Andretti captured his fifth Indy 500 win as a car owner this past May.
BorgWarner Inc. President and CEO James Verrier presented the BorgWarner Championship Driver’s Trophy to Sato, as well as the BorgWarner Championship Team Owner’s trophy to Andretti during the annual Automotive News World Congress Dinner in Detroit. The event was held in conjunction with the North American International Auto Show.
Although the Borg-Warner Trophy has been a staple of Indianapolis 500 lore since Louis Meyer’s third win in 1936, the Baby Borg has a much shorter history.
First awarded to the 1988 Indianapolis 500 winner Rick Mears, the Baby Borg is a 14-inch replica of the Borg-Warner Trophy given to the winning driver of each Indy 500. Starting with Arie Luyendyk’s win with car owner Rick Treadway in 1997, the winning owner has also received a Baby Borg.
Sato won the 500 Mile Race after a previous best finish of 13th in the Indianapolis 500, twice with A.J. Foyt Enterprises in 2013 and again in 2015. In October, the Tokyo native took the Borg-Warner Trophy overseas for the first time with a tour of Japan.
“The first time in 82 years it’s been out of the country,” Sato noted when discussing the trip he took with the trophy. The 40-year-old driver also mentioned he has no definite plans for where the replica will travel.
“I haven’t decided if it’s going to Indy or Japan,” said Sato when pondering a display location for his shiny new friend. “Anywhere will do.”
During his acceptance of the award, Sato expressed how overjoyed he was to have won the race and discussed how well his win was received in his home country of Japan. “It’s really a dream come true,” Sato exclaimed.
“The moment when I crossed the checkered flag… the emotion was just too huge,” he added when describing his screams heard over the radio after winning the Greatest Spectacle.
While basking in the glory of an Indianapolis 500 win have been a major reward, Sato also knows that another chance at the trophy is just around the corner.
“(Being honored for winning the Indianapolis 500) just never stops, and we’re only four months away from the next Indy 500. It’s crazy,” the driver expressed.
Michael Andretti, owner of Andretti Autosport, took home his fifth Baby Borg as an owner. Andretti Autosport’s win last May now ties them for second place in Indianapolis 500 victories among car owners with Lou Moore.
After joining forces with former CART organization Team Green, the group would run under the banner of Andretti Green Racing starting in the summer of 2002. The team would win the Indianapolis 500 in 2005 (Dan Wheldon) and 2007 (Dario Franchitti).
Following a rebranding to Andretti Autosport, the team won at Indianapolis in 2014 with Ryan Hunter-Reay and again in 2016 as Andretti Herta Autosport with Alexander Rossi. The only car owner with more wins is Roger Penske, who has 16.
Andretti, who will see series rookie Zach Veach take over the seat vacated by Sato’s departure for Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing, commended his former driver’s efforts by calling his last ten laps of the race “some of the best ten laps in the history of that race.”
They may have gone their separate ways for this season, but Wednesday night represented a spectacular moment for Michael Andretti and Takuma Sato, as both shared in the spoils of a thrilling and historic victory.
Images courtesy of Autoweek and IndyCar.