All photos courtesy BorgWarner

Honda welcomes Sato, Borg-Warner Trophy and more on ‘Thanks Day’

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We mentioned last week how the Borg-Warner Trophy was set to embark on its first ever trip outside the U.S., en route to Japan for a couple weeks.

A highlight event for the trophy, for 101st Indianapolis 500 presented by PennGrade Motor Oil race winner Takuma Sato and more than two dozen other Honda drivers was Honda Racing’s THANKS DAY – held this weekend at Twin Ring Motegi, Japan.

With more than 20,000 fans in attendance ranging from babies to more senior fans, questions, pictures and memories flowed throughout the day to catch their glimpse of the trophy and Sato in his home country.

Fans admire the Borg-Warner Trophy.

Beyond the event and reveal of the trophy, Sato also ran some demonstration laps on the Twin Ring Motegi oval in his No. 26 Ruoff Home Mortgage Honda that he won the ‘500 with for Andretti Autosport. The laps were the first turned on the oval since the Fukushima earthquake in 2011; the last Verizon IndyCar Series race held in Japan was at Motegi’s road course, a one-time only event held in 2011. The last oval race ran in 2010.

“Today has been amazing, one of the most special days of my life. I want to thanks Honda and BorgWarner for all they have done to make today great,” Sato said.

“Honda Racing THANKS DAY is about the fans and all their passion and loyalty. It was historic for the Borg-Warner Trophy to leave the United States for the very first time ever and come to Japan, it makes us all proud!

Young fans admire the Borg-Warner Trophy.

“I have been very fortunate to spend so many years with Honda and to win the Indianapolis 500 with them has been a dream. I love the Indianapolis 500 and the Borg-Warner Trophy and to share my win and the trophy here in Japan has been something I will never forget!

“I have had a big smile all day through all the events. Running laps in my Indy winning car today in front of all the happy fans was a thrill. I loved the cheers and appreciate their support. I am a happy smiling man like the man on the Borg-Warner Trophy.”

Past McLaren Honda F1 driver Jenson Button, who announced his return to Super GT at the weekend, and Repsol Honda MotoGP riders Dani Pedrosa and Marc Marquez were thrilled to see the trophy and Sato during the day as well. Former Honda chief Mr. Michihiro Asaka was there to witness the trophy and car. All of them chimed in on the day, as well.

Button admires the Borg-Warner Trophy.

“That is one amazing trophy!  There are so many of my friend’s faces on it and so many Formula 1 drivers who won at Indy too.  Neat to see Dario (Franchitti) and his three silver faces and look at Takuma, what a proud smile!” Button said of the trophy, and his friends.

Marquez and Pedrosa.

The Repsol Honda riders had the chance to race at Indianapolis, but hadn’t really understood the measure of the trophy until seeing it up close.

“That is one big trophy. So cool. That would be worth winning. I like the history it represents at a great track, Indianapolis. It is nice to see Takuma with all the other winners!” said Marquez.

Pedrosa added, “Wow, I like that trophy, I wish I won that for winning my races racing at Indianapolis. That is a great trophy representing racing in the United States.”

Mr. Asaka, who was instrumental in bringing Honda into IndyCar in 1994, said this was a truly special day for the company given its racing heritage and the success being able to come home.

“We were so happy getting the first Honda driver’s face on the Borg-Warner Trophy,” he said. “There are now so many great Honda drivers represented over the years. I am very proud of our success in racing and at Indianapolis. It was not always easy but we worked very hard to reach our goals. We are very honored the trophy came to Japan. It is historic and all the fans and media can’t believe they get to see it with their own eyes today. I have seen it many times at Indianapolis Motor Speedway but I never, never thought I’d see it in Japan and at Twin Ring Motegi. This is a special, special day for all of us to share and remember.”

Sato, the Borg-Warner Trophy, and BorgWarner’s Scott Gallett.

Scott Gallett, Vice President of Market, BorgWarner Inc., put into perspective the day’s proceedings.

“It was my first time at the Honda Racing THANKS DAY. To see all the Honda Motor Sports drivers, cars, motorcycles and fans in one place at the same time makes it truly unique.

“Everywhere the Borg-Warner Trophy goes it attracts attention. The fans at the event brought this to a new higher level. They gathered to see the trophy in person non-stop all day long taking pictures and just staying to be in the presence of the iconic trophy on it’s first trip to Japan.

“Takuma Sato thanked BorgWarner and Honda repeatedly throughout the day and we could see the true joy on his face. BorgWarner was proud to help make the day more special for Takuma Sato and Honda. It was a very historical event.”

Gathering of stars at Honda Racing THANKS DAY.

Social media (more than just Sato and IndyCar) 

 

MRTI: Keith Donegan earns Mazda Shootout Scholarship

Photo: Indianapolis Motor Speedway, LLC Photography
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Dublin, Ireland’s Keith Donegan claimed a $200K scholarship from Mazda after emerging victorious at the second annual Mazda Road to Indy Shootout. The 20-year-old Donegan earned an at-large nomination for the scholarship based on his performance at this year’s Formula Ford Festival, in which he finished second in the final, and emerged from a pack of 17 drivers from across the globe to claim the scholarship.

“It really hasn’t hit me yet,” said an emotional Donegan, who earlier in his career actually spent two years away from racing as he focused on academics. “The weekend was really good and I enjoyed it. I have to say a huge thanks to Mazda and Cooper Tires and everyone at the Mazda Road to Indy. I enjoyed every moment. Throughout the weekend we were consistent and I kept the small things in check. I didn’t make any stupid mistakes and kept my head cool and that really paid off in the end.”

The two-day shootout was held at the Bondurant Racing School in Arizona and saw the nominated drivers tackle the school’s 1.6-mile circuit in Formula Mazda race cars before facing on and off-track assessments. Donegan was selected by a panel of judges that included former driver and current Verizon IndyCar Series TV analyst Scott Goodyear, Mazda drivers Tom Long, Andrew Carbonell, and Jonathan Bomarito, as well as Victor Franzoni – the current champion of the Pro Mazda Championship Presented by Cooper Tires – and Oliver Askew, the current champion of the Cooper Tires USF2000 Championship Powered by Mazda.

Donegan was humbled to be in the presence of drivers who have won scholarships and championships previously, and added that he is grateful to have the opportunity to continue his racing career.

“You see all these champions here today that will go on to great things in the future and I’m sure the names you see here today aren’t going to disappear,” Donegan added. “They will be back up there and I’m sure I will be racing them again some day. It is an unbelievable opportunity to be given and for Mazda to provide that for any young driver. It just gives that bit of motivation that you need because the [U.S.] is where you need to go to become a professional these days. It is such a boost to my career.”

Donegan is now slated to join the 2018 USF2000 championship, with further announcements regarding the team with whom he’ll be racing to come in the future.

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