The man behind the sculptures: William Behrends’ presence endures for Borg-Warner Trophy, and Giants legends


Being a witness to history is one thing; creating a tribute to history is another.

For sculptor William Behrends of Tryon, N.C., he’s been fortunate enough to do both.

Behrends is in the process of completing his 25th face on the Borg-Warner Trophy this winter; he’s working on the mold of Ryan Hunter-Reay that will be revealed in early December at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

The Borg-Warner faces, though, stand in stark size contrast to his other key sculptures, which fans and onlookers will see displayed prominently outside AT&T Park in San Francisco starting with tonight’s Game 3 of the 2014 World Series.

Mays statue.

Behrends created four sculptures of Giants legends Willie Mays, Willie McCovey, Juan Marichal and Orlando Cepeda, which all stand around the perimeter of AT&T Park.

While the Borg-Warner faces are less than the size of an egg, the Giants sculptures stand a life-sized 9½ feet tall, on 5-foot high granite pedestals.

Behrends explained the challenges in creating two entirely separate sculptures, given the size and material changes.

“It took me a while to do this – doing the first few years, it took some time to get comfortable,” Behrends told MotorSportsTalk when addressing his integration into doing the faces on the Borg-Warner.

“By 1990, I’d been doing sculpture full-time since the early ‘70s, and a big part of it was portraits. You have to create the anatomy and structure of the head and face. That’s no different in this scale.

“In this scale, the extra challenge is to make it read from a distance. You have to make it such a way, so you can tell who it is from a distance. You have to capture that personality and expression, and that’s something that I’ve gotten better at.

“If you have a life-size portrait and meet it eye level, it’s a different challenge. This, you have to make it right.”

Perhaps the most intriguing part of the year-to-year evolution for the Indianapolis 500 winners is that Behrends works from the same piece of clay, and molds a likeness from that every year.

The image is put in the clay, which eventually leads to a mold, and a positive copy of the image. It’s roughly a three-step process, Behrends said, and there’s no way to define the exact number of hours for each face.

Behrends works on Kanaan’s face.

This year’s shift has been from Tony Kanaan, who won last year, to Hunter-Reay.

“That’s one of the first adjustments I made, so I could carve away a lot of the nose and have more clay elsewhere,” Behrends explained.

“I like both of them for different reasons. What’s distinct about their faces is vastly different.

“RHR has a very strong jaw, and there’s something about his eyes and mouth that’s very distinct. It took a while that first day to get from one to another because they’re so different.”

Kanaan has often joked about his nose size throughout his illustrious 15+ year career and Behrends said that a likeness, not a caricature, is key to the molds.

“Last year, because Tony’s (nose) is so distinctive, a caricature would be easier. But you need a likeness, and that comes pretty quick,” he said. “You try to infuse some character and nuance/expression. That’s about the challenge every year. What makes it live, takes the time. That first part is challenging.”

Luyendyk in ’90, then ’97.

Though Behrends didn’t indicate a favorite face, per se, he did say he was a big fan of Arie Luyendyk’s molds. Luyendyk won the 500 twice – in 1990 and 1997 – and other than a noticeable change in hair between the two wins there wasn’t much in the way of refining that was needed.

For multiple ‘500 winners, Behrends said you still take each driver as a “new winner;” that means he’ll start from scratch even if a driver won back-to-back ‘500s.

While the Borg-Warner face remains an annual project, the statues at AT&T were one-time affairs, but ones with a lasting impact at one of Major League Baseball’s most iconic parks.

Behrends worked in partnership with senior Giants officials Larry Baer and Peter McGowan to cast molds and then begin to immortalize Giants legends Mays, McCovey, Marichal and Cepeda.

For Behrends, who’s still a Giants fan today albeit one living on the East Coast, it provided an incredible opportunity to spend time with them, get to know them, and then put the pieces together.

“Mays was my hero when I was growing up; I was Willie Mays,” Behrends said. “I modeled my stance, pattern and everything. To see him play in Chicago, and have distinct memories of him, then to meet with him, talk baseball with him… you have to pinch yourself.”

The Mays statue sits outside the front ballpark entrance; McCovey’s is, naturally, in McCovey Cove with Marichal’s and Cepeda’s also outside the ballpark.

source: Getty Images
Photo: Getty Images

Getting Marichal’s signature high-leg kick to work as a statue, and be held down firmly, provided one of Behrends’ greatest challenges.

“That’s something Peter wanted was that pose,” he said. “We found a yoga instructor, and he couldn’t do it. Marichal was quite an athlete – just that delivery was quite an athletic feat. That sculpture sits on one leg, so it has to be really strong. It’s the same with the Mays; it weighs a ton, but there’s nothing under the center of gravity. Strong, stainless steel structure. I didn’t see it – but somewhere there’s a picture of 8-10 fans after the last time they won the Series. But it passed the test.”

As Behrends reflects, he isn’t slowing down any – he just appreciates the opportunity every year.

“It’s a tremendous challenge – one you take seriously because you’re their biographer,” he says. “Even after they’re gone, you’ll see that imagery. I take it very seriously. I take it the best I can.”

Chase Sexton wins Triple Crown Anaheim 2 Supercross: Levi Kitchen unseats Jett Lawrence in 250s

Supercross Anaheim 2
Feld Motor Sports/MX Sports Pro Racing/Align Media

Chase Sexton won two of the three races in the Monster Energy Supercross Anaheim 2 Triple Crown, which was enough to overcome a fifth-place finish in Race 2 and give him the overall victory. It was the second Supercross win of his career.

“Super big night for me,” Sexton told NBC Sports’ Will Christien. “After last weekend with that being a struggle, I just need to come out here and stop the bleeding a little bit and I did that tonight.”

Sexton suffered a crash on Lap 1 of his heat, sending him into Last Chance Qualifier. The bad gate pick put him in a difficult position to start the race and he was able to climb to only fifth at the checkers.

At Anaheim 2, three riders entered the final race of the Triple Crown in a winner-take-all scenario. Sexton, Jason Anderson and Eli Tomac each had a shot at victory. It raised the intensity level for all riders in an evening that featured a lot of comers and goers.

Jason Anderson took the early lead in Race 3, which set him up for the overall victory. Sexton stalked and passed him midway through the race and then a minor mistake late allowed Webb to slip around as well. Anderson’s 5-1-3 gave him second overall.

“I had a tough couple of rounds, getting off that Anaheim 1 crash and then last week weekend I fumbled a little bit, but I’m excited to get back on the box and start moving forward,” Anderson told Jason Thomas.

Anderson finished seventh in the first two rounds of 2023.

RESULTS: How they finished for the 450 Main in Anaheim 2

Ken Roczen was the model of consistency in the opening rounds and at Anaheim 2. In three races so far this year, he’s gotten progressively better each time with a fifth in A1, a fourth last week in San Deigo and a third this week.

With results of 2-3-4, he earned his first podium of the season, which lands him fourth in the standings.

“This was hard earned,” Roczen said after the race. “I completely botched the start and then to have to work my way up. I only happen on the very last lap to step up here on the podium.”

Webb’s solid second-place finish in the third race allowed him to leapfrog several riders and finish fourth overall, but a seventh in Race 1 kept him off the podium. He improved in each race in Anaheim, however, with a 7-4-2.

With a 4-6-5, Dylan Ferrandis rounded out the top five.

The intensity of the race was a little too much for Tomac.

While battling side-by-side with Webb in Race 3 at the one-third mark, Tomac jumped wide and crashed hard. He fell to 14th, doing some damage to his bike in the process. He advanced only one position in that race to 13th. His first two races, a third and second, were strong enough to give him sixth overall. He retains the points lead, but it has shrunk to a gap of only four over Sexton and Webb.

Malcolm Stewart injured late in the week and was not able to mount.

Levi Kitchen became the first rider to unseat Jett Lawrence in the Triple Crown format at Anaheim 2 and won the overall with consistency. In his three races, Kitchen finished 4-2-2 to narrowly edge the winner of the first two races.

“This whole day; this is unbelievable. I took a few good slams in practice and I was down on myself,” Kitchen told NBC Sports Jason Thomas afterward. “The first moto I got a good start and got shuffled back, then I knew I just needed to be consistent.”

Jett Lawrence saved his best for last – which wasn’t hard given the struggles he experienced in the first two races.

Despite those problems, he entered Race 3 of the Triple Crown three points behind Kitchen after suffering a pair of disappointing races by his personal measuring stick. In the first and second 250 races of the night, Lawrence hit the ground. He dropped to the final rider in the running order in Race 2 with a Lap 1 fall. But in both races, he was able to overcome his mistake and close the gap so that he had a chance to take his first Triple Crown win of his career.

Click here for full 250 West Main Results

Lawrence rode to third in Race 1 and sixth in Race 2. In the final race of the night, Lawrence did all he could. He earned the holeshot, but when Kitchen fell in behind him, Lawrence’s fate was sealed. His 3-6-1 tied him in points with Stilez Robertson, but the tiebreaker goes to the final round and his win secured second-place.

“I can definitely say Triple Crowns are not my thing,” Lawrence told NBC Sports Will Christien. “We have one more to try and fix this, so hopefully we can get that done.”

Lawrence will move into the 450 class for the Lucas Oil Motocross outdoor season and his 250 record book will be closed.

The best news for Lawrence is the other riders who entered this round in the top three had a worse night, so Lawrence leaves Anaheim with a 16-point gap on Cameron McAdoo and 17 over RJ Hampshire.

Roberston finished 6-1-3 to take the final step of the podium.

“Getting that win in the second Main meant a lot,” Roberston told Thomas. “I wish I could have done a little better in the third one, but we’re still up here on the box.”

Mitchell Oldenburg used consistency to earn fourth in the overall. He finished 5-4-6.

After missing the Main last week in San Diego, Max Vohland finished 7-8-4 to round out the top five.

RJ Hampshire set himself up as the early favorite with his Race 1 win. In Race 2, it all fell apart. He fell in the sand section and damaged his bike, finishing last in that race. The final event of the night for the 250s provided only a 13th-place finish, leaving Hampshire deep in the points.

Cameron McAdoo hard crash in qualification, which was scary news for a team that has seen three of their riders sidelined with injury. McAdoo was never quite able to get his rhythm with an 8-7-5.

2023 Race Recaps

San Diego: Eli Tomac, Jett Lawrence double down
Anaheim 1: Tomac wins opener for the first time

Anaheim 2 coverage

Power Rankings Week 2
SuperMotocross tightens playoff schedule
Eli Tomac, Jett Lawrence go two-for-two in San Diego
Results and points after San Diego
Seth Hammaker to miss 250 E season opener with wrist injury
Jo Shimoda joins Seth Hammaker, Austin Forkner with injury
Injury sidelines Austin Forkner for remainder of 2023 SX