BorgWarner is closely associated with the Indianapolis 500, one of the world's greatest racing events. Since 1936, the Borg-Warner Trophy™ has been synonymous with top performance, speed and leading-edge automotive technology, the same qualities that continue to characterize us today.
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."
Made of 110 pounds of sterling silver, the Borg-Warner Trophy originally cost $10,000 and is currently valued at $3.5 million. The trophy clearly reflects the "art deco" period of its creation during the 1930s.
During the race, the Borg-Warner Trophy is displayed trackside. When the winner pulls into Victory Lane, the trophy is placed on the rear of the car behind the driver. This tradition dates back to 1911, when Ray Harroun won the race with an average speed of 74.602 miles per hour.
The Borg-Warner Trophy has appeared in several Hollywood movies, including "To Please a Lady" with Barbara Stanwyck and Clark Gable, and "Winning" with Paul Newman. In the latter, Paul Newman talks on the phone about his racing victory while standing in a phone booth with a scaled-down version of the trophy proudly tucked under his arm.
The overall trophy stands 5 feet, 4-3/4 inches tall. Guidelines for its creation stipulated that it must represent the spirit of world-class racing, be constructed of precious metal, and be of heroic proportions. The completed work was characterized by its luxurious use of geometric and stylized forms, including wings of victory "handles" on each side of the trophy to symbolize speed, and a Greek-like figure of a man waving the traditional checkered flag atop a silver dome.
The original trophy base was designed to display images of the faces of 80 Indianapolis 500 winners. Two new bases have since been constructed to add more space -- one in 1986, to provide space for 18 more faces, and one in 2004, adding capacity for winners through 2034.
A replica of the Borg-Warner Trophy, the BorgWarner Championship Driver's Trophy is awarded each year to the winner of the Indianapolis 500 as a personal keepsake. The Borg-Warner Trophy does not go home with the winner after it is presented on race day; it stays on permanent display at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Hall of Fame Museum.
Fondly referred to in the automotive racing world as the "Baby Borg," the sterling silver Championship Driver's Trophy is 14 inches high and weighs 5 pounds. It rests on a 4-inch by 8-inch beveled black marble base. The base includes space for a hand-crafted, 2-inch, 3-dimensional sterling silver image of the winning driver's face, and an inscription of the winning team and year of victory.
The faces are sculpted by award-winning American sculptor William Behrends. In creating the faces, Behrends first sculpts a life-size bust in clay. He then works from the clay bust to create a smaller image that is used for the sterling silver mold. All of the faces of Indy 500 winners since 1936 are attached to the Borg-Warner Trophy.
The first recipient of the BorgWarner Championship Driver's Trophy was Rick Mears, winner of the 1988 Indianapolis 500. It is valued at $25,000.
The owner of the racing team that wins the Indianapolis 500 receives the BorgWarner Championship Team Owner's Trophy. Also a replica of the Borg-Warner Trophy, its band of art-deco racing cars is accentuated in gold to symbolize the importance of the team, recognize the importance of the team owner's role in the Indy Racing League, and pay tribute to the value of teamwork in auto racing and the automotive business. It is a companion to the BorgWarner Championship Driver's Trophy.
The BorgWarner Championship Team Owner's Trophy was established in 1998, the year BorgWarner marked its 70th year as a pioneering innovator in the automotive industry and renewed its commitment to product leadership as the strategic focus of its future.
The inaugural BorgWarner 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.
The Borg-Warner Trophy™, BorgWarner Championship Driver's Trophy™, and BorgWarner Championship Team Owner's Trophy™ are trademarks of BorgWarner Inc. Indianapolis Motor Speedway (and Design), Indianapolis 500 and the 2007 Indianapolis 500 event logo are trademarks of Brickyard Trademarks, Inc., used with permission.