All photos courtesy BorgWarner

Borg-Warner Trophy back home after Japan trip

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The Borg-Warner Trophy’s first, fabulous trip outside the United States – all the way to Japan for a two-week period – is over. But the memories are vivid as the winning trophy for the Indianapolis 500 enjoyed a whirlwind ride of events and enthusiasm thanks to BorgWarner and Honda.

Plans were hatched over the fall to see the Borg-Warner Trophy go to Japan to commemorate Takuma Sato’s victory in this year’s race. It arrived to great fanfare, and also took center stage at Honda Racing’s THANKS DAY held at Twin Ring Motegi.

Two key individuals were shepherds of the trophy while in Japan, as A.J. Fairbairn, Manager of Restoration Services and Jason Vansickle, Assistant Curator, IMS Museum, traveled with the trophy and unpacked and packed up the trophy at each stop throughout the trip. As the Borg-Warner Trophy travels in three separate custom shipping cases that weigh nearly 200 pounds each. these two ensured it remained shiny and bright at every opportunity and squeezed it through whatever size entrance was there.

At Honda World Headquarters, fans sought to take their picture not just with Sato’s face on the trophy, but some ventured to do so with nearly every face on the trophy!

Sato also organized a Fan Club meeting (more than 800 fans in attendance), personally meeting with every fan in attendance and providing signed hero cards. There and smiling for every picture, the eternally effervescent Sato embraced each fan with their gifts they brought. Sato was also particularly warm and welcoming to a handful of handicapped and special needs fan who couldn’t meet him on stage, as he took time to spend with them as well. To end the Fan Day, he redid victory celebration at Indianapolis, and poured a bottle of milk over his head.

Sato paid a visit to BorgWarner’s Nabari plant as well, which is six hours away from Tokyo. He unveiled a conference room named in his honor there in the town of 80,000, bringing an impressive surprise to that plant and town. This allowed the Borg-Warner Trophy to visit one of its homes on site.

“What a wonderful facility!  I would like to thank Kunihiko Mishima-san (General Manager of the BorgWarner plant in Nabari) and everyone at the plant for their wonderful reception and hospitality,” Sato said. “I was very impressed with the technology and R & D in the plant.

“BorgWarner is just not about turbochargers. It was wonderful to see the Borg-Warner Trophy again at the plant, it has been all over Japan in the last few days – I am so happy it is being shared with everyone!  Overall it was a wonderful trip and I again thank everyone for the congratulations and very warm welcome.”

Such was the nature of the trip that some fans doubled or tripled up on photos. There was a bevy of fans at either the Honda World Headquarters or the Takuma Sato Fan Day who had photos from Honda Racing THANKS DAY or Honda World Headquarters. A lot of fans did a “double” and at least a handful did the “triple” – THANKS DAY, Honda World Headquarters and Takuma Sato Fan Day.

The trophy went to Japan’s iconic Mt. Fuji, as well.

As there were so many hundreds of fans who witnessed the trip, including the tens of thousands at Honda Racing’s THANKS DAY, capturing the reaction is important. But two fans who saw Sato come so close to winning the 2012 Indianapolis 500 on site, and then watched him win this year, are good to summarize it.

Taiko Hattori and her husband Masahito Mori live in Mito City, which is 30 minutes outside of Motegi. They both attended Honda Racing THANKS DAY, the event at the Tokyo Dome Hotel – Nippon Forum “All For 2017” Awards, Takuma Sato Fan Day and the final event – Car of Japan 2017-2018 Awards in Tokyo.

“After the 2012 Indy 500 we were lucky enough to visit Dario Franchitti on the Victory Podium to get our photo with him and the Borg-Warner Trophy between his TV interviews. Today seeing the Borg-Warner Trophy in Japan is very exciting. Thank you for bringing it here – I am grateful!” Hattori said.

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

Both Sato and Scott Gallett, Vice President of Marketing BorgWarner, Inc., reflected on the incredible experience.

“If the faces on the Borg-Warner Trophy could talk they would shout, “Thank you Japan!”  Takuma Sato’s enthusiasm and the fan’s appreciation was over flowing during the entire trip.  The people’s reaction to seeing the Borg-Warner Trophy in person was something I’ll never forget,” Gallett said.

Sato added, “It’s been an amazing two weeks with the Borg-Warner Trophy. It’s special having so much support from the fans from east to west – it’s been a busy trip but such an incredible experience. I’d like to give the whole team a big “Thank You” and to everyone who has supported this special, once in a lifetime project – especially Honda and BorgWarner – without both of them, this would have been impossible.

“It’s all about appreciation. This is the reason I am standing here today – only because of everyone’s support. I feel really fortunate to receive this kind of support, very special. It was a really good year this year and equally I am looking forward to 2018. I get my Baby Borg to start the year in January so it will start in a memorable way, to which I am thankful!”

Needless to say there’s a lot of photos to capture the trip, some of which are above, and others are below (All photos courtesy BorgWarner).

Borg-Warner Trophy Travels in Japan!

Thursday, November 30 – Borg-Warner Trophy arrives in Japan and is transferred to Utsunomiya for storage before heading to Twin Ring Motegi for Honda Racing THANKS DAY.

Saturday, December 2 – Borg-Warner Trophy is transferred to Twin Ring Motegi.

Sunday, December 3 – Twin Ring Motegi, Honda Racing THANKS DAY, 7 am to 5 pm.

Monday, December 4 – Tokyo Dome Hotel, 6 pm. Nippon Forum “All For 2017” Awards – Takuma Sato and Japanese 100 meter sprinter Yoshihide Kiryu who was the first Japanese athlete to break 10.00 seconds in the 100 meter dash – 9.98 this summer.

Tuesday, December 5 – Mt. Fuji en route to Nabari, Japan

Wednesday, December 6 – BorgWarner plant in Nabari, Japan.

Employees view trophy from 8 am to 4 pm then at 2 pm Takuma Sato arrival. 3:30 to 4:00 pm Sato and media at the plant. Evening – 6 to 8 pm Takuma Sato speech at ADS Hall in Nabari for employees, their families, media and the community – approx. 500 in attendance.

Thursday, December 7 – NSK-Warner plant in Fukuroi, Japan.

They literally rolled out the “red carpet” for the viewing – 8:30 am to 2:30 pm. Takuma was not in attendance.

Friday & Saturday, December 8 & 9 – Honda World Headquarters in Tokyo, Japan. On display 24 hours a day with Takuma Sato appearance for a magazine cover shoot on Friday. The trophy was lit at night so people could view it thru the front window!

Sunday, December 10 – Takuma Sato Fan Club Day – Yamano Beauty School – over 800 in attendance – 1 to 7:30 pm.

Monday, December 11 – Car of Japan 2017-2018 Awards in Tokyo, Japan

1 to 4 pm followed by Honda VIP reception. Japanese automotive journalists honored Takuma Sato.

Tuesday, December 12 – The Borg-Warner Trophy begins its trip back to the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Museum. 6:30 am – Mini truck from Tokyo hotel to Narita Airport. Fly from Narita Airport to Detroit, MI. Cargo van from Detroit airport to IMS Museum.

INDYCAR: What Drivers Said after Friday’s two practices at Barber

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Here’s what drivers had to say after Friday’s two practice sessions for Sunday’s Honda Grand Prix of Alabama (there’s one final practice plus qualifying on Saturday):

JOSEF NEWGARDEN (No. 1 Hitachi Team Penske Chevrolet, 2017 Honda Indy Grand Prix of Alabama winner, 2017 Verizon IndyCar Series champion): “It’s great…home track for me. It wins the war between this place and Indianapolis (Motor Speedway) because it’s an hour closer, so I think that’s why I call it the home track. Unfortunately, we don’t race in Nashville anymore. But I’ve always loved Barber. It is a special place for me. It’s the place I got my first win with CFH (Racing) back in the day, and it’s a place I won my first race for Team Penske. It’s had a couple firsts for me, so it’s been good for that. Good memories. I love this racetrack. I think it’s one of the best that we get to drive at from sort of a style standpoint. It’s very technical, but it’s got a lot of flow to it. It feels kind of like a roller coaster to me is the best way to describe the style of it. I have a lot of fun here. I think it’s great. We’re going to try and have a good weekend. We had a pretty good start for the most part. We had some issues in the first session. Just kind of been dealing with a couple things that I think we got sorted out for the second session there, but we seem like we’ve got some speed. I think our other cars got some speed, as well. Simon (Pagenaud) looked like he suffered from maybe a similar problem, and I don’t think Will (Power) had a very good lap, so I think those guys will be right there with us. Team Penske I think is going to be strong tomorrow, I’m sure.

MATHEUS “MATT” LEIST (No. 4 ABC Supply AJ Foyt Racing Chevrolet): “We’re struggling with understeer in mid-corner, so we need more rotation in the car. If we can fix the mid-corner understeer, we’re going to have a fast car tomorrow. We’ll keep working on it, and hopefully we’ll have a great weekend.”

JAMES HINCHCLIFFE (No. 5 Arrow Electronics Schmidt Peterson Motorsports Honda): “We learned a lot today. We tried to come test here a few weeks ago, but unfortunately Mother Nature had a different plan, so we didn’t get a lot of running in. We came into this weekend with a bit of an evolution from what we tested, still were a little bit off, and over lunch, the Arrow Electronics guys made a couple of great changes. It doesn’t look great on the time sheets because our fast lap was when that red flag came out, so they took it away from us. I think we’re decently inside the top 10, which is a big jump from this morning.”

ROBERT WICKENS (No. 6 Lucas Oil Schmidt Peterson Motorsports Honda): “We lost water pressure somewhere in the Lucas Oil car, so we’re playing it safe. No water pressure means no water circulation to the engine, then it overheats and blows up. We’re taking the precautions to keep the engine alive, but unfortunately, we stopped after a couple of laps. It’s an hour free practice and we only did two competitive laps, so we’re just watching everyone else improve their cars and we aren’t able to right now. It’s pretty disappointing.”

SCOTT DIXON (No. 9 PNC Bank Chip Ganassi Racing Honda): “We’re in the ballpark at the front, which is a good start for the No. 9 PNC Bank team. The Penske cars are up front and I think that’s a result of them doing some additional testing here. We kind of expected that to start. We did a qualifying run and the car was just too loose for some reason. And then we were fighting understeer this morning, so we’ve seen both sides of it. Now it’s up to us to get it right for qualifying tomorrow.”

ED JONES (No. 10 NTT DATA Chip Ganassi Racing Honda): “It was a difficult end to the day for us. I think after starting well this morning, we struggled in the afternoon. It could have been the heat that affected us, I’m not really sure. Tonight, we’ll have to look at the data and what we learned from the NTT DATA car, talk to Scott (Dixon) and look toward tomorrow. I’m optimistic because we have a good base setup and we just need a little bit more work to get it right.”

WILL POWER (No. 12 Verizon Team Penske Chevrolet): “I think once again the temperature of the track really makes it tough in these cars. It was very nice this morning and was easy to get lap times. And then all of a sudden this afternoon, even on reds (Firestone alternate tires), it’s very difficult to get the car right. We’re going to have to go back and have a good think about it.”

TONY KANAAN (No. 14 ABC Supply AJ Foyt Racing Chevrolet): “It’s a difficult day. We’re struggling a lot. We’ve got a lot of work to do.”

GRAHAM RAHAL (No. 15 Mi-Jack Honda): “Today was OK. I didn’t think that we were great there in the second practice, but if you’re off a little bit, it can make a five-, six-, seven-spot difference. It’s going to be really tight (on the time sheets) there tomorrow, so we’ve got to work on it and get it a little better.” (About whether qualifying performance is even more important if rain falls during the race:) “Qualifying will be important, but I think if it’s rainy, I think you will be able to make moves and you will see a lot of guys make mistakes.”

SEBASTIEN BOURDAIS (No. 18 Team SealMaster Honda): “I am not quite sure what to think about the whole day. We are not super happy with the car, but in the meantime, it is decently fast. We made some gains and at least the car is doing one thing, so that’s the good thing. The SealMaster Honda No. 18 is in the ballpark. It seems like all we are doing right now is preparing for qualifying because it is definitely going to rain on Sunday. We are going to have to think very hard on what we are going to do in those conditions. We just have to keep working and see what we get tomorrow.”

ZACHARY CLAMAN DE MELO (No. 19 Paysafe Honda): “We didn’t have a great morning aboard the No. 19 Paysafe car as we struggled a bit with the balance, but the second practice session was a lot better. We ended up P12, but had the potential for a lot more. When we went out on the Firestone red (alternate) tires near the end of the session, a red flag came out and that didn’t help us. I think we definitely could have been in the top 10, maybe even the top five. Overall, it’s encouraging heading into practice and qualifying tomorrow.”

JORDAN KING (No. 20 Ed Carpenter Racing Fuzzy’s Vodka Chevrolet): “This morning was really good and we made some good progress. For this afternoon’s session, we changed a couple of things to see if they helped. We’re keeping the tradition, though, of not getting a lap time on reds (Firestone alternate tires), between traffic and red flags and yellows. We are farther down than I think we should be. We should be quite a bit quicker, probably seven or eight tenths faster than what we were. We’re not a million miles away. We just need a few more small improvements to get me a bit more comfortable with the car.”

SPENCER PIGOT (No. 21 Ed Carpenter Racing Fuzzy’s Vodka Chevrolet): “That was a really good session. It’s nice to end up at the front here at Barber. It’s one of my favorite tracks, I really enjoy it. The session was good right from the get-go on black (Firestone primary) tires. We were quite fast, then when we put the reds (Firestone alternate tires) on, the car just gained more grip. Sometimes when you put them on, it can really change the balance, but this time it felt really good. We were able to get a little more out of the car in pretty much every corner. I’m very happy with the Fuzzy’s Vodka Chevy so far, hopefully we can keep it up there.”

SIMON PAGENAUD (No. 22 Menards Team Penske Chevrolet): “The car is really fast. It was a really good session to start. But unfortunately, we had a bit of a spin on the reds (Firestone alternate tires) trying a little too hard, I guess. That’s what you have to do before qualifying. You have to find the limits, but I’m very happy with the Menards car. I think we’ll be in great shape tomorrow.”

ZACH VEACH (No. 26 Group One Thousand One Honda): “So far, it’s just been really nice to have experience at this track, which makes it a little easier coming in. We’ve been trying a lot of things today and I think we were a little stronger in the morning than this afternoon. We have a bit to go back and look at, but compared to where I was here last year, it’s night and day difference. I’m just happy to have the opportunity that we do, and we’re going to keep pushing forward.”

ALEXANDER ROSSI (No. 27 Kerauno / MilitaryToMotorsports.com Honda, Verizon IndyCar Series points leader): “This morning was definitely a struggle for all of us. I think the No. 27 car was the most outside of the window, but we made a lot of improvements over lunch. We have something to be positive about going into this evening and looking forward to tomorrow. I think we need to take one or two steps in a similar direction, but if we can do that, I think the Kerauno car will be good enough for the Firestone Fast Six.”

RYAN HUNTER-REAY (No. 28 DHL Honda): “I think we made steady progress through the day. We started out with the rear of the car way too exposed, too loose through most corners. We needed to bring it more into the window, which I think we did in the final session, considering we didn’t get a full run on new red tires due to a red flag. I think the DHL car has some good pace in it, so hopefully we can make the next step tomorrow.”

TAKUMA SATO (No. 30 Mi-Jack / Panasonic Honda): “The second session was better. I think we made some good progress from the first one. The first session was a little bit of finding the right direction to go in and it seems we found one. Still, we have a little work to be done Saturday. Having said that, there was quite a few yellows and red flags that interrupted the session. I know everyone is in the same boat, but our best lap was like a rerun and we were never able to do a long run, so it’s a little gray on how we will be for Sunday (in the race). We lost some downforce compared to last year and the tires have quite a good drop-off, or degradation, so after you use them the first or second timed lap, the tires are losing a lot of grip. It’s not a huge amount, we’re talking about a small amount, but it’s enough to make a difference. We are trying a different kind of philosophy in terms of the mechanical setup, trying to match the balance and grip level of where we were last year, so that’s why everyone is trying different things. Some people struggle, some people find a happy place.”

RENE BINDER (No. 32 Binderholz tiptop timber Chevrolet): “I think that the practice went well in the beginning. We did find some improvement, so it went better and better. Then we put the red tires on and I tried to push hard and maybe a little too much. I then lost the car, it went straight into the wall. It was a little bit too late with my hands, taking them off the steering wheel, so my left hand hurts a little bit.”

GABBY CHAVES (No. 88 Harding Group Chevrolet): “Tough day for us today. We had a mechanical issue towards the end of Practice 2, so it cut our time on track short. I know the Harding Racing guys are working hard to make sure everything will be good to go tomorrow for Practice 3 and qualifying. We’ll keep at it tonight to be ready to push tomorrow.”

MARCO ANDRETTI (No. 98 Kerauno / Curb Honda): “The Kerauno car was decent today, and coming out of Friday in the top 10 is a good place to start the weekend. We have a few things we want to work on overnight that I think will help the car be even better, and that’s what we’re going to focus on. Hoping to make it into the Firestone Fast Six tomorrow and challenge for the pole.”