|What a pathetically small trophy the winner of the Indy 500 gets to keep. Really? The Speedway must be hurting for money|
DETROIT – Reigning Indianapolis 500 champion Alexander Rossi said receiving his miniature Borg-Warner Trophy Wednesday night in the Motor City was different than other race-related experiences he's had since winning the 100th running in May 2016.
For one, he gets to keep the memento known as "the Baby Borg."
"The most memorable experience was seeing my face on the actual trophy," Rossi told IndyCar.com at the annual Automotive News World Congress dinner at the Renaissance Center. "But you can't take it home."
Rossi first saw his likeness on the actual trophy Dec. 7 during an unveiling at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Museum in Indianapolis. Rossi knows where the big trophy resides – at IMS – but he does not yet have a place to showcase the smaller version one he received tonight. However, he got advice from Andretti-Herta Autosport team owners Michael Andretti and Bryan Herta.
Andretti keeps those he won with Dan Wheldon (2005), Dario Franchitti (2007) and Ryan Hunter-Reay (2014) in his office at team headquarters in Indianapolis. Herta has the one he won with Wheldon (2011) displayed at his home office in Valencia, Calif.
Herta said the replica showpiece outshines all others he achieved in his long and successful motorsports career.
"It's the only thing; it really is," Herta said. "I'm really proud of everything (I've received); I've got a case for all the mementos I've accumulated over the years, but there is no comparison. That trophy and this event has no peer in racing."
Andretti joked that this event is "the only time" he looks forward to coming to Detroit in the middle of January.
"Definitely a highlight and awesome what BorgWarner does keeping the tradition of that beautiful trophy," he said. "To celebrate it here with the biggest auto show of the year (the North American International Auto Show) is great.
"I'm just hoping this isn't my last time."
Odds are it won't be as Andretti's Verizon IndyCar Series team ranks second only to Team Penske in placing the most drivers in victory lane at the Indianapolis 500. Roger Penske's organization has won the race a total of 16 times with 11 different drivers. Lou Moore and Chip Ganassi also won the race with four different drivers.
Said Andretti: "That makes me proud because it shows we've been doing a great job as a team; it's not just been the driver (in the car)."
BorgWarner has given a replica Indianapolis 500 trophy to each race winner since Rick Mears after his 1988 victory.
The actual trophy stands just under 5 feet, 5 inches and weighs 110 pounds; the replica is 18 inches tall and weighs five pounds. This one is valued at $50,000; the primary one is valued at $3.5 million.
Rossi's likeness is the 103rd on the trophy that includes the race's winning drivers and co-drivers, as well as that of Tony Hulman, who resurrected the speedway and race when he purchased the facility in 1945.
Could the trophies be any smaller?