Takuma Sato

It took more than three years, but Takuma Sato finally got a chance to show off his 2020 Indianapolis 500 presented by Gainbridge-winning car at speed to his fans Sunday, Dec. 3.

Japanese native Sato earned his second “500” victory in the No. 30 PeopleReady Panasonic Honda fielded by Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing on Aug. 23, 2020, but that dramatic win came in front of empty Indianapolis Motor Speedway grandstands due to health-and-safety precautions at the height of the COVID-19 pandemic.

But Sato took that special car for a drive on the road course at Twin Ring Motegi last Sunday during the Honda Racing THANKS DAY 2023. The event, held for the 15th time since 2005, gathered Honda-powered drivers and riders from racing series around the world in a celebration for fans that included demonstration laps, question-and-answer presentations, autograph sessions and more.

Sato was particularly happy to turn laps in his native land in his 2020 “500” winner.

“Beautiful, the 2020 winning car,” Sato said on X. “During the pandemic, there were no spectators, so to actually show this in front of the fans like this in Motegi, I’m very proud of that and really appreciate Honda and everybody that makes things happen. It’s a fantastic car.”

RLL mechanic Matt Like, who worked on the winning 2020 car, was part of the RLL contingent to accompany Sato to Motegi for the celebration.

Plenty of Honda racing royalty besides Sato attended the event, including reigning Formula One World Champion Max Verstappen, multiple MotoGP World Champion Marc Marquez, and F1 drivers Daniel Ricciardo, Sergio Perez and Yuki Tsunoda.