Dreams of winning the Indianapolis 500 Mile Race accompanied Ryan Hunter-Reay from the first time he sat in a go-kart until Race Day on May 25, 2014.
On Dec. 3 at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Hall of Fame Museum, another tangible piece of his stunning victory in “The Greatest Spectacle in Racing” was realized when his sterling-silver bas relief image was unveiled on the Borg-Warner Trophy.
Click it: William Behrends - the man behind the faces
“Winning the Indy 500 is a dream come true,” said Hunter-Reay, who drove the No. 28 DHL Andretti Autosport car to a narrow victory over three-time race winner Helio Castroneves. “The whole process is so surreal because it happens so fast. It’s an achievement you work your entire career to attain and then all of a sudden you drink the milk and the next thing you know you’re at a street circuit in Detroit.
“You don’t get to really think about it much afterward. So seeing my face on the Borg-Warner Trophy, which transcends motorsports makes it all sink in.”
With hundreds of fans craning to watch BorgWarner vice president of marketing and public relations Scott Gallett pull away the black curtain enveloping the base of the trophy, a broad smile crossed Hunter-Reay’s face – nearly matching his image.
The Borg-Warner Trophy, which features the three-dimensional sterling silver image of every Indianapolis 500 winner dating to Ray Harroun in 1911, is on permanent display at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Hall of Fame Museum.
“From the first time I sat in a go-kart, it was me winning the Indianapolis 500. Now just to have my name on the Borg-Warner Trophy next to the legends of the sport means the most to me,” the Fort Lauderdale, Fla., native/resident said.
"Being one of the 101 faces on the trophy is quite humbling. It will always be part of history and a moment I will remember forever. Now that I am part of the permanent trophy, the next exciting step is to receive my Baby Borg in January.”
To provide the winner with a personal keepsake, BorgWarner established the BorgWarner Championship Driver's Trophy (aka the Baby Borg) in 1988. The 18-inch trophy includes a duplicate base relief image of the winner. The BorgWarner Team Owner's Trophy was established in 1998 and will be presented to Michael Andretti. Both trophies will be presented during the Automotive News World Congress in Detroit on Jan. 14.
"Ryan Hunter-Reay won the 2014 Indianapolis 500 in thrilling fashion, with the second-closest margin of victory in the event's history," Indianapolis Motor Speedway president J. Douglas Boles said. "Ryan is a great competitor and a fantastic driver, so it's wonderful that his face will be immortalized on the Borg-Warner Trophy for winning 'The Greatest Spectacle in Racing.' He also now holds a unique piece of '500' history in being the first of our next hundred honored on the trophy."
Among the 101 bas-relief images adorning the Borg-Warner Trophy, all are drivers, except for one. In tribute to his rejuvenation of the track and Indianapolis 500 following World War II, a 24-karat gold likeness of late Speedway owner and President Anton "Tony" Hulman was added in 1988. In 1924 and 1941, two drivers shared the victory and a spot on the trophy, one for starting the race and the other for finishing it. Two bases have been added to the original trophy, providing capacity for more winners until 2034.
The trophy recently was appraised for $3.5 million.
"You can't put a price on it to what it means to the drivers," Gallett said. "It is a great day for Ryan Hunter-Reay and a great day for BorgWarner as well."