DETROIT – It’s too much to ask of Michael Andretti to select which of the three Indianapolis 500 Mile Race victories as a team owner is his favorite. Each is special in its own right.
Andretti was presented his most recent BorgWarner Championship Team Owner's Trophy by BorgWarner CEO James Verrier during a dinner at the annual Automotive News World Congress. He also won in 2005 (Dan Wheldon) and 2007 (Dario Franchitti) under the Andretti Green Racing banner.
“These are special moments and this one is really special in what we were able to do with Ryan, who did such a fantastic job in the race,” Andretti said. “Then it was the first one we won as Andretti Autosport and the way we won it. Those last six laps were some of the most exciting in Indianapolis 500 history.”
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Andretti’s 42 Indy car victories are third on the all-time list – behind his father Mario (52), the 1969 Indianapolis 500 champion, and four-time Indy 500 winner A.J. Foyt (67) – and he has followed with more than 50 Verizon IndyCar Series wins as a team owner. Not winning the race as a driver doesn’t diminish the sense of accomplishment.
“The Borg-Warner Trophy is the iconic trophy of sports, not just auto racing, and unfortunately I don’t have my face on the trophy but I’ve been lucky enough to have three Indy 500 wins as an owner and I’m proud to have three drivers representing our team with their faces on the trophy,” said Andretti, who latest owner’s trophy will join the others in his office. “It says that we’ve done a good job as a team over the years. It’s the most special race in the world and when you win it stays with you the rest of your life.”
Based in Indianapolis, Andretti Autosport boasts four Verizon IndyCar Series championships (2004, 2005, 2007 and 2012), two Indy Lights titles (2008 and 2009), one Pro Mazda championship (2013) and one USF2000 championship (2010).
Andretti Autosport enters the 17-race Verizon IndyCar Series season that begins March 8 in Brasilia, Brazil, with entries for Hunter-Reay, Marco Andretti 2014 Sunoco Rookie of the Year Carlos Munoz. Andretti remains positive that a fourth – and possibly a fifth – car will be added in the next few weeks to the lineup.
“Continuity is a great thing in racing and signing Ryan to a three-year extension (in August) puts that all aside and means we can focus on racing, and Marco and Carlos are sitting there (champing at the bit) to win that Borg-Warner trophy, too,” Andretti said. “If I can get to five cars, I’d love to do it. We have a lot of irons in the fire and if two of them happen then we can have five cars. At the very least, we’d like to have four.”
The Championship Team Owner’s Trophy has a band of art-deco racing cars accentuated in gold to symbolize the importance of the team, recognize the importance of the team owner’s role in the Verizon IndyCar Series, and pay tribute to the value of teamwork in auto racing and the automotive business.
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.
In 1935, the Borg-Warner Automotive Company commissioned designer Robert J. Hill and Spaulding-Gorham of Chicago to create the trophy at a cost of $10,000.
Unveiled at a 1936 dinner hosted by then-Speedway owner Eddie Rickenbacker, the Borg-Warner Trophy was officially declared the annual prize for Indianapolis 500 victors. It was first presented that same year to champion Louis Meyer, who remarked, “Winning the Borg-Warner Trophy is like winning an Olympic medal.”