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Dario Franchitti’s image on the Borg-Warner Trophy following his victory in 2010. (Walt Kuhn)
Dario Franchitti’s image on the Borg-Warner Trophy following his victory in 2010. (Walt Kuhn)

Motorsports

Brickyard or bust: in pursuit of the Indy 500 Borg-Warner Trophy Add to ...

On tap this week:

  • The Borg-Warner’s 100 faces
  • Who needs Indy 500 practice?
  • Quote of the Week: Sir Jack Brabham’s Indy revolution
  • Size matters at Indy
  • Formula One’s megaphone
  • Rahal hopes for more than par

Three-time Indianapolis 500 champion Dario Franchitti remembers the moment it hit him.

It happened the morning after the Scotsman won his first 500, during a photo shoot as part of the publicity surrounding his 2007 victory at the famed Brickyard.

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When it came time for Franchitti to stand next to the Borg-Warner Trophy, he took a moment to have his first good look at its miniature silver busts of previous race winners and it suddenly dawned on him.

“I found Jimmy Clark’s likeness on the trophy and when I found it, that was the moment it hit me that I was going to get my image on the Borg-Warner Trophy,” he said.

“I am looking at my hero Jim Clark in his Bell Helmet on the trophy and that was just stunning. Besides winning, I get to get my image on the same trophy he is on along with all the other Indy 500 legends – Parnelli [Jones], [A.J.] Foyt, Mario [Andretti], [Rick] Mears – unreal.”

Commissioned in 1935, the sterling silver faces begin with the inaugural Indy 500 winner Ray Haroun from 1911. Last year’s champion, Tony Kanaan, was the 100th added to the trophy.

Creating the likeness of the annual champion falls to sculptor Will Behrends, who has been conjuring up the silver faces in his North Carolina artist’s studio for the past 25 years. His first, 1990 champion Arie Luyendyk, is also one of his favourites.

“Luyendyk had very long hair and doing that hair was fun because it was like breaking the mould of what had been done on the trophy. I also have a fondness for Tony Kanaan because I think he was due,” Behrends said.

“The hardest part is the scale – it’s just like doing a larger sculpture only I am crouched over it and it is very small. This is a privilege for me.”

All 24 busts Behrends delivered were sculpted using the same small piece of clay that gets reformed year-after-year. He creates the miniature busts based on photographs of the winner taken from all angles the day after the “Greatest Spectacle in Racing,” which may not be the best time to capture a driver’s best side.

“You’re always coming off a long night with little or no sleep and some celebratory drinks, so you usually are not looking your best,” Franchitti said.

In case you’re wondering why there are 100 faces even though there have only been 97 Indy 500s, it’s because there are two sets of co-winners on the Borg-Warner – Lora L. Corum and Joe Boyer (1924) and Mauri Rose and Floyd Davis (1941) – and a 24-karat gold bust of Tony Hulman was added to honour the late IMS owner in 1988.

Random Thoughts

Canada’s James Hinchcliffe pretty much disproved the idea that practice make perfect.

After being kept out of his car until Friday due to a concussion suffered in the IndyCar Grand Prix of Indianapolis on May 10, the Oakville, Ont., native had just 18 minutes of practice laps before going into qualifying where he ended up second on the grid for this year’s Indianapolis 500.

“To think about the fact a week ago I wasn’t allowed to operate a cell phone and today I’m whipping an IndyCar around IMS at 230-something miles an hour is pretty incredible,” Hinchcliffe said on Sunday.

“I jumped in Friday – one run – look where we ended up. Big thanks to [teammates] Kurt [Busch], Carlos [Munoz], Marco [Andretti], Ryan [Hunter-Reay] and E.J. [Viso], everybody at Andretti Autosport and United Fiber and Data, because to have this car on the front row is incredible.”

The 27-year-old missed top spot by 0.226 seconds over the four-lap qualifying run, which totals 10 miles.

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