DETROIT – Will Power’s victory tour for winning the 102nd Indianapolis 500 brought the driver from Toowoomba, Australia, to team owner Roger Penske’s hometown.
Both were honored Wednesday night at the Automotive News World Congress at the Marriott Renaissance when presented their “Baby Borg” trophies, miniature replicas of the famous Borg-Warner Trophy that boasts the sterling silver likeness of every Indianapolis 500 winner.
For Penske, it was his 17th Baby Borg as the winningest team owner in Indianapolis 500 history. For Power, it was his first.
The annual event coincides with the North American International Auto Show, which brings the automotive world to the “Motor City.” With this prestigious gathering, the Indianapolis 500 gets to take center stage and honor the winning team owner and driver.
“In all of the world, there is nothing like the Borg-Warner Trophy,” Penske said.
Power has discovered that as well after his impressive win at Indianapolis Motor Speedway last May 27. It continues the recent tradition that included Power’s likeness being unveiled on the trophy in early December at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Museum.
The Borg-Warner, however, stays in Indianapolis. Power gets to keep his Baby Borg.
“It’s a big deal and something I’ve been thinking about for the last few months,” Power said. “I didn’t realize you get your face on the ‘Baby Borg.’ Not many people get to do that and not many people have one.
“It’s a real honor to do it in Detroit, with Roger Penske, with the General Motors people there. It’s a big honor all the way around. This is a pretty cool auto show. I always love coming here.”
Power reminisced on the life’s journey that brought him to this point.
“It is amazing as you look back at where I began racing go-karts on the dirt tracks of Toowoomba, Australia, to be standing up and receiving a Baby Borg trophy after winning the biggest race in the world,” he said. “If I had sat back 20 years ago and thought I would be in this position, I wouldn’t have believed it.”
Power’s first Indianapolis 500 was in 2008. He didn’t win “The Greatest Spectacle in Racing” until his 11th attempt in 2018. The struggle to reach the biggest achievement of his career makes him appreciate it all the more.
“If I had won it on my first year, I may not have known the significance of it,” Power admitted. “Having a bit of heartbreak – a lot of heartbreak in there – everybody but one person leaves there disappointed. It means a lot to me that I have won it after 11 tries.”
Power plans to put his Baby Borg next to the Astor Cup replica that he earned by winning the 2014 NTT IndyCar Series championship. He has a wealth of other trophies in his basement from 35 career Indy car wins (tied for seventh all time), 54 pole positions (second all time) and 70 podium finishes. But the Baby Borg and Astor Cup replicas will be displayed in a special area at Power’s house in North Carolina – the crown jewels of Power’s outstanding career.
“I think everything after winning the Indianapolis 500 makes you realize how iconic and big that race and event is,” Power said. “The sculpting of your face, the unveiling of your face and then the banner going up on the Indianapolis Motor Speedway (entry gate), the Baby Borg ceremony and the ticket release with the (winning driver’s face on the) ticket.
“It makes you appreciate the size of the event, which was obvious, but it really makes you understand there is so much history to this event and fall in love with it even more.”
While Power continued to soak in the joy of winning the Indianapolis 500 for the first time, Penske added to his impressive Baby Borg collection with No. 17.
“The first one back in 1972 with Mark Donohue started the progress we have made with the race team, but to be here in Detroit tonight at the Automotive News World Congress is a key,” Penske said. “It’s a great time to get the award in Detroit.
“It’s not for me, but the drivers and the hundreds of people who have supported the race team over the years. Will Power is a great champion and now we are looking for Indy 500 win No. 18 in 2019.”
The 103rd Indianapolis 500 is scheduled for May 26 and will air live on NBC. Tickets are available at IMS.com.