INDIANAPOLIS — A.J. Foyt stands alone in a sport he dominated since his youth. Now 87, he is more revered than feared for a career studded with record-setting victories and milestones including five Indianapolis 500 Mile victories, four as a driver and one as solely a car owner in 1999. Being the first driver to win Indy four times is one of the signature accomplishments in a career defined by them. BorgWarner, the company that created the Borg-Warner Trophy in 1936, found a way to honor the iconic champion with a unique trophy Wednesday evening.
A.J. receives his Baby Borg from Michelle Collins, Global Director of Marketing and Public Relations for BorgWarner.
“We are honored to share the night with A.J., and his friends and family to present him with his very own, one-of-a-kind, Baby Borg trophy,” said Michelle Collins, Global Director of Marketing and Public Relations for BorgWarner. “As an Indianapolis 500 team owner A.J. was awarded an Owners Baby Borg for Kenny Brack’s 1999 victory and now we’d like to honor him in a special way for his four Indianapolis 500 wins on this his 64th anniversary at Indianapolis Motor Speedway. A.J. means so much to so many race fans around the world and especially here in Indianapolis. He is the founding member of the four-timers club and has his name in the record book for so many accomplishments at the Brickyard. It was a wonderful evening few will forget and all were very proud to be a part of – this one’s for you A.J.!”
Foyt’s unique Baby Borg features a trapezoidal marble base which on each side represents one of his four victories at the Brickyard featuring his name, the year of his win and the average speed. The sterling silver plates were hand engraved by Reid Smith who engraves the same information on the actual full-sized Borg-Warner Trophy.
Foyt poses with son Larry and grandson A.J. Foyt IV.
“The other night meant an awful lot to me,” said Foyt. “Getting that beautiful trophy which is the only one there is with my four victories on it makes it very special to me. It will go with my original trophies and I just really appreciate everyone who made it happen–especially Michelle [Collins] and [Steve] Shunck.”
Over 60 invited guests were part of the special event including current AJ Foyt Racing drivers Kyle Kirkwood, Dalton Kellett and J.R. Hildebrand; Larry and Anthony Foyt, Mark Miles, Doug Boles, sponsor and close friend Marlyne Sexton, and Tony and Laura George.
A.J. tells the story of the lion tackling him at the state fair in DuQuoin, Ill. to (L to R): Kyle Kirkwood, son Larry, close friends Marlyne Sexton and her daughter Tracy Copeland.
Prior to the1988 Indianapolis 500, winners were presented with a wooden plaque with a silver facade of the Borg-Warner Trophy for their trophy case. At the suggestion of four-time winner Rick Mears, the Baby Borg tradition of a 14-inch “Baby” sterling silver replica of the trophy started following Mears’ third win and has been customary since. Other past winners who have been “upgraded” to a Baby Borg from a plaque by BorgWarner include Parnelli Jones, Mario Andretti and the late Al Unser.
A.J. poses with Steve Shunck who organized the event on behalf of BorgWarner.
“I wish I could have been in Indianapolis to be part of the event,” said 1963 Indianapolis 500 winner Parnelli Jones from his house in Rolling Hills, Calif. “A.J. and I sure have shared some wonderful times together on and off the track at Indianapolis. I think back to racing the roadsters in the early 1960’s – those were special times and I’ll never forget them. Congratulations to A.J. – I’m glad he was honored in the presence of friends and family at the Foyt Wine Vault, it’s only fitting.”
From one Indy 500 champion to another…fitting indeed!
A.J.’s Indy 500 drivers came out to honor their boss: Kyle Kirkwood, Dalton Kellett and J.R. Hildebrand.