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INDY 500

What is the Indianapolis 500 trophy called? height, weight, history

Considered one of the most recognizable trophies in the world, what the winner of the Indianapolis 500 receives is as prestigious as it is old.

Considered one of the most recognizable trophies in the world, what the winner of the Indianapolis 500 receives is as prestigious as it is old.
Brian SpurlockDiarioAS

As trophies go, that which the Indianapolis 500 winner holds aloft - tries to if we’re honest - is massive by trophy standards and weighs quite a bit to boot. Yet, just how much and what’s the history behind it? Let’s find out.

Presenting the Borg-Warner Trophy

If you’re even a casual fan of motorsports, then you definitely know of the Indianapolis 500 and if you’ve watched one, then you’ve probably been shocked by the grandeur of the trophy that the winner receives. Indeed, the legendary trophy is one of the most recognizable trophies in the world.

Named the Borg-Warner Trophy, it is presented to the winner of the Indianapolis 500, which if you didn’t know is considered one of the greatest spectacles in racing to this day. To be clear, Borg-Warner is one the 25 largest automotive suppliers in the world and operates in 22 countries in the world.

Commissioned in 1935, it was designed by Robert J. Hill and Spaulding-Gorham, Inc. of Chicago. Impressively, the sterling silver trophy has the likeness of every Indianapolis 500 race winner’s face permanently affixed to it. Interestingly, the trophy was unveiled at a dinner hosted by then-Indianapolis Motor Speedway (IMS) owner, Eddie Rickenbacker, back in 1936 at which time he declared that it would be the official annual prize given to the winner of the Indianapolis 500.

Indeed, from that day to this, many drivers have spoken of their feelings upon receiving the now iconic trophy. “It is a truly an honor for our company to provide and care for one of the most iconic trophies in sports, the Borg-Warner Trophy,” once said Fred Lissalde, President and CEO – BorgWarner Inc. “The racers that have won the Indy 500 often speak of earning their place on the Borg-Warner Trophy as one of their greatest achievements. For each of them to be a part of the history and story of the Borg-Warner Trophy is gratifying.”

The Borg-Warner Trophy and it’s details

You might know that the Art Deco style was hugely popular in the 1930′s and so, understandably, the trophy’s design is in keeping with that idea. Made of sterling silver, it stands at slightly more than 5 feet 4 inches tall and has a weight of approximately 110 pounds, of which more or less 80 pounds is sterling silver - yes that’s quite a bit. One of the more notable features of the trophy, is its “wings” which are featured on either side of it and are said to symbolize the speed of flight.

Then there’s the flagman of course, who is on the top of the trophy with his traditional checkered flag. Yet, by far the most notable aspect of the trophy is the aforementioned relief-sculpted likenesses of each and every winner of the Indianapolis 500, immortalized for all time.

More information

If you’re wondering, the original trophy was crafted to accommodate 70 race winners. Understandably, it’s been retouched since those early days, with a sterling silver base being added on two occasions between 1984 and today in order to accommodate the additional winners. At present, the trophy has enough space to carry new additions up until 2033.

You might also find it fascinating to know, that there is in fact one face on the trophy which belongs to a man who didn’t win the race. Anton “Tony” Hulman, the owner of IMS from 1945 to until his death in 1977, has his face featured on the trophy and is actually the only one that is cast in gold. Today, the Borg-Warner Trophy is permanently at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Musem in Indianapolis, Indiana.