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Five Little-Known Facts About the Indy 500’s BorgWarner Trophy

The Art Deco-inspired trophy dates back to 1935 and features the face of every Indy 500 winner since 1911.

Whether you’ve attended an Indy 500 in person or simply watched it on TV, you’ve most likely seen the magnificent trophy that’s presented to the winner at the end of the high-speed vehicular marathon. And whether Danica Patrick wins her first 500 or Helio Castroneves gets his fourth, the five-foot-tall BorgWarner trophy, a jug of ice-cold milk, and a handmade orchid wreath will be waiting for them along the yard of bricks at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway come Sunday.

Interestingly enough, the BorgWarner trophy didn’t earn its name through a naming rights sponsorship like many other trophies or racing venues, it was actually commisioned by the Borg-Warner Corporation back in 1935, the ancestor company to today’s BorgWarner Inc. 

The BorgWarner Trophy and Wreath at the Yard of Bricks., IndyCar

“The Borg-Warner Trophy goes far beyond traditional company sponsorships,” said Scott Gallett, BorgWarner Inc. vice president of marketing, public relations, and government affairs. “Our global employees feel tremendous pride that stems from what it means to the winning drivers who earn their immortality by earning their spot on the trophy.  It is an iconic symbol that continues to grow year after year, race by race, face by face.”

Enjoy these five little-known facts about the well-known trophy:

It’s Expensive

The BorgWarner Trophy is estimated to cost around $3.5 million dollars, just a tad more than the $10,000 it was valued at back in 1935. Perhaps the fact that it features 80 pounds of sterling silver has something to do with that.

It Ain’t Going Anywhere

Despite becoming racing superstars overnight, Indy 500 winners don’t take the BorgWarner home. In fact, no one does, it stays on permanent display at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Museum. Once a sculptor finishes the newest winner’s face, they take home a miniature version called the “Baby Borg.”

More Faces Than Races

There are two sets of two faces for two Indy 500s, which means that there are a total of 104 faces for only 101 completed events. No, they’re not two-headed drivers, they represent L.L. Corum and Joe Boyer who took turns racing at the ’24 Indy 500, and Floyd Davis and Mauri Rose in 1941.

It Runs in the Family

There are a total of nine Unser faces on the BorgWarner trophy. Bobby Unser has won it three times, Al Unser four times, and Al Unser Jr. twice. Other potential last names that could be added in the future include Rahal, Andretti, Fittipaldi, and even Wheldon.

That’s Odd…

A lot of funky things have happened since 1935, although some funkier than others. For example, the name of the 1950 Indy 500 winner Johnnie Parsons is misspelled on the trophy as “Johnny,” and the face of former Indianapolis Motor Speedway owner (not a race winner) Tony Hulman is finished in 24-karat gold instead of silver.