Marcus Ericsson has seen the early version of his sculpted likeness that will forever don the Borg-Warner Trophy for winning the 106th Running of the Indianapolis 500 presented by Gainbridge. His girlfriend, Iris Tritsaris Jondahl, has seen it, too, and she approves of sculptor Will Behrends’ work.
“(She) said it’s better than the real version,” Ericsson said Tuesday from Behrends’ workshop near Tryon, North Carolina.
Jokes aside, Ericsson is even more impressed with his likeness than he could have imagined, and he said he will be excited to see the real thing when it appears on the iconic trophy in a few weeks.
Ericsson admitted he didn’t know what to expect from the three-step process that begins with the same piece of clay each year. Behrends has said in addition to capturing the personality and familiar expression of the driver, the extra challenge is to make the finished product, which is about the size of an egg, read well from a distance.
“It’s quite surreal to have a sculpture of your face,” Ericsson said. “It’s hard to imagine how you will react when you see it, but I knew I was going to like it because I had seen Will’s work, and I knew how good (of a sculptor) he is. I was just excited to see it.”
Behrends, who has done life-sized sculptures of baseball greats Willie Mays and Tom Seaver, among others, has been creating the images for the Borg-Warner Trophy since 1990 when Arie Luyendyk won his first “500.” Nearly all of Indy’s recent winners have gone to Behrends’ tranquil workshop in the Blue Ridge Mountains to have the finishing touches applied.
Now, Ericsson hopes the Borg-Warner Trophy can join him in his native Sweden this fall to have the likeness officially unveiled, a hometown treat afforded previous winners such as Takuma Sato (Japan) and Simon Pagenaud (France).
Ericsson said he hopes Sweden’s king, Carl XVI Gustaf, can see the trophy in Stockholm, the country’s capital.
“He’s a huge INDYCAR fan,” Ericsson said of Gustaf.
Then, the driver of the No. 8 Huski Chocolate Chip Ganassi Racing Honda wants the trophy to make a stop in Kumla, where he was raised, and Orebro, his hometown, as part of the victory tour.
“It will be amazing to show it there,” he said. “That would be an incredible thing to do.”