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We saw a lot of good sights along the way, including the “Sling Blade” diner in Benton, Ark. Cathy Huckaby owns the diner, which was used in scenes its namesake, the 1996 Billy Bob Thornton film. Cathy asked what brought us through Benton. When I told her, she momentarily disappeared. She returned with two pieces of homemade banana bread cake she had just finished. She wanted us to have it for our drive. People are inherently good, folks. Never forget that. And speaking of good, so is Turhan’s Mercedes. I finally know how Little Al felt in ’94 at Indy. Veteran broadcaster Jake Query is a member of the Advance Auto Parts Indianapolis 500 Radio Network team and will offer his musings Tuesdays on IndyCar.com.
I hope everyone had a good Thanksgiving and was able to spend it with loved ones. A lot of people think of the holiday shopping deals after Thanksgiving; but my thought is this: We’re now more than halfway between Indy 500s. Call it Christmas in November. I felt kind of guilty watching the Redskins lose on the road on Thanksgiving. Seriously, and I’m not even grasping for some low-hanging fruit. It’s Thanksgiving! Is there not one day we can offer some reflection and dignified appreciation for America’s native people? Bad enough the team is called “Redskins,” but we can’t even let them be the home team? Would seem to fit the holiday history.
There is some concern around Indiana with the NBA’s Pacers. I certainly expected more from them early, but let’s not forget: Juan Montoya was running 32nd early in the 2015 Indy 500. If I became surgeon general, you know what I’d make mandatory? Public restroom doors ALL opening from the inside out. Is anything more disgusting than the thought of that brass petri dish door handle you have to grab just after washing your hands? Push swing it open from the inside and enjoy your meal in sanitary bliss. Anyone remember the “That’s Incredible” show? It was like “America’s Got Talent” before we knew America had talent. That said, the guy in the glass cube was still more impressive than Frisbee dogs. That dude was the Charles Nelson Reilly of that show.
With the Indy 500 Live Grand Prix on the Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course looking for a new title sponsor, I nominate St. Elmo shrimp cocktail sauce. Think about it: the GP is the ultimate appetizer to invigorate your senses for the month of May. Doesn’t IMS make your eyes water? So does that cocktail sauce. Let’s see it happen. The “St. Elmo Shrimp Cocktail Sauce Grand Prix of Indianapolis.” Granted, it’s a mouthful. So is the shrimp. I’ve shared this before, but I still am amazed 317 men survived the USS Indianapolis tragedy. I’ll never be convinced the Indy area code is, indeed, coincidence. As I mentioned last week, I spent last weekend driving my late friend Turhan’s car back from Austin, Texas. My buddy Mike Byron made the trip with me. Turhan was a brother to us both.
The 29th annual Performance Racing Industry Show, held in the Indiana Convention Center in Indianapolis, will see Rossi, team owners Michael Andretti and Bryan Herta, and car owner David Bowen present the #98 car to the IMS Museum. Ex-Formula 1 racer Rossi became the first rookie to win the Indianapolis 500 since Helio Castroneves in 2001, and only the ninth in the race’s history. It marked the fourth win for Andretti as a team owner and the second for Herta. Betsy Smith, executive director of the nonprofit Indianapolis Motor Speedway Foundation which operates the museum, said: “The 100th Indianapolis 500 will go down as one of the most memorable races in the storied history of the Brickyard.
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“The Indianapolis Motor Speedway Museum is proud to receive and display Alexander Rossi’s winning car as a testament to his skill and the teamwork and ingenuity that landed him in Victory Lane.” Bowen commented: “I am very honored to be presenting this car to the museum where it rightfully belongs, representing Alexander Rossi’s victory in the historic 100th running of the Indianapolis 500. The car is going into the museum on behalf of Michael (Andretti) and Bryan (Herta) and all of the members of Andretti Herta Autosport who made it happen.” On Wednesday, Rossi will be unveiling his image on the Borg Warner Trophy at the IMS Museum.
The Andretti-Herta Autosport driver scored a remarkable victory in the world’s biggest race after a brilliantly managed final stint. The Californian saved enough fuel to eke his fuel load to last 36 laps, as his principal rivals in the closing stages made a late splash-’n’-dash pitstop, then desperately tried to catch him. The #98 ran out of fuel halfway around the slowing-down lap. Thus Rossi has become the 103rd face on the 5’5”, 110lbs Borg-Warner Trophy, an apparently anomalous figure that accounts for shared rides, missed years due to two World Wars, and the Tony Hulman visage also included. (Details below video) Said Rossi on seeing his face in sterling silver for the first time: “I’m still tripping out about it! It’s very special and it’s way more detailed, accurate and amazing than I ever thought it would be.
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“The specialness of being on the Borg-Warner Trophy and to be next to names that have such a legacy and history in the sport, guys I grew up admiring and watching and dreaming of one day being able to race at that… Now to kind of be in the same sentence as them is something that I don’t really think I fully understand yet…” William Behrends, the sculptor who has created the last 27 faces for the Borg-Warner Trophy, said he was pleased at the astonishment with which both Rossi and previous Indy 500 winner Juan Pablo Montoya had reacted to their sculptures. He said: “That’s a lot of fun, it’s worth all the effort that I put in to making Alexander’s and Juan’s models and in preparation for that. It just makes it worthwhile that they (Montoya and Rossi) look at it and they’re pleased with it and think it represents them well.
“So that was really a nice moment for me – Alexander was quite amazed and happy, I am pretty sure.” Describing his attempt to capture their personality in the sculpture, Behrends said: “I don’t think I can define what I look for in the personality, but there’s something distinctly there. Being able to sit with them for a couple of hours and talk about their lives, about their racing, about their win –it really does translate something into the work for me. It really enriches it for me, makes it more pleasurable for me to do.” Rossi said of Behrends’ sculpture: “It blows my mind that [Will] was able to get this so accurate just from pictures.
I am so far from being anywhere close to an artist but you can really appreciate what he’s done and I don’t even know where to begin in how you acquire such an amazing skill set. “It’s fantastic that I had the opportunity to work with him for a short period of time and I think that it’s a very special program to be part of.” Although Rossi cannot keep hold of the Borg-Warner Trophy, which is worth $3.5m and remains in the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Museum, he will receive a sterling silver ‘Baby Borg’ with a copy of his face sculpture bonded to its marble base.
Among the 103 bas-relief images adorning the Borg-Warner Trophy, all are drivers, except for one. In tribute to 2017 IndyCar 500 Live his rejuvenation of the track and Indianapolis 500 following World War II, a 24-karat gold likeness of late Speedway Owner and President Anton “Tony” Hulman, Jr., was also added in 1988. In 1924 and 1941, two drivers shared the victory and a spot on the trophy, one for starting the race and the other for finishing it. Two bases have been added to the original trophy, providing added capacity for more winners until 2034. [Source]