IndyCar driver Takuma Sato, of Japan, points to his sterling silver likeness on the Borg-Warner Trophy after it was unveiled at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway in Indianapolis, Tuesday, Oct. 17, 2017. Sato won the Indianapolis 500 in May. (AP Photo/Michael Conroy)

Indy 500 trophy leaves US for 1st time for Japanese visit

INDIANAPOLIS — The Borg-Warner Trophy that honours the Indianapolis 500 winner left the United States for the first time in its 82 years on Tuesday to celebrate Takuma Sato’s victory in Japan.

The trophy’s permanent home is the museum at Indianapolis Motor Speedway. It headed to Tokyo for a 15-day tour of festivities for Sato, the first Japanese winner of “The Greatest Spectacle in Racing.”

The tour also is celebrating Honda’s 12th Indianapolis 500 victory.

“I think it is very special that the Borg-Warner Trophy is travelling to Japan. The trophy represents winning the greatest race in the world and I am very proud to have won,” said Sato, a native of Tokyo.

“For nearly two weeks the trophy will be seen throughout Japan. I am honoured to be the first Japanese driver to win the Indy 500 and extremely grateful the Borg-Warner Trophy will be travelling outside United States for the first time ever to celebrate my team’s and Honda’s accomplishments. Let’s do it again next year, too.”

The Borg-Warner company had never before seen a push to celebrate the Indy 500 in an international driver’s home country. The tour, which includes stops at the Twin Ring Motegi race circuit and the cities of Nabari and Fukuroi, is sponsored by both Borg-Warner and Honda. The trophy will be part of Honda Racing’s “THANKS DAY” at Twin Ring Motegi later this week.

“The Indianapolis 500 is one of the most important races in the world and to have Takuma Sato win the 2017 event in a Honda-powered car was certainly a historic part of the event’s legacy,” said Art St. Cyr, president of Honda Performance Development.

“Honda’s 12 wins in the Indy 500 are something everyone in our company is very proud of. For the Borg-Warner trophy to be travelling to Japan, representing the ‘500’, and taking its special magic directly to Honda associates and fans in Japan will make for a very special day.”

During the trip, the trophy will cover about 12,780 miles, more than 25 times the distance of the Indianapolis 500. It will return to the speedway Dec. 12.

Every Indianapolis 500 winner’s face is immortalized on the trophy, dating to Ray Harroun, victor of the inaugural race in 1911. There also are two sets of dual victors’ faces on the trophy from the era when primary drivers often shared cars with relief drivers, L.L. Corum and Joe Boyer in 1924 and Floyd Davis and Mauri Rose in 1941.

The trophy is 5 feet high and 110 pounds and is valued at $3.5 million.

It has 104 faces — all but one images of winning Indy 500 drivers — cast in sterling silver. The 104th face is former Indianapolis Motor Speedway owner Tony Hulman, which is cast in 14-karat gold.

The 104 images represent 12 countries: Australia, Brazil, Canada, Colombia, England, France, Italy, Japan, Netherlands, Scotland, Sweden and the United States.

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