This past May, if he hadn’t been considered one of the all-time greats already, Ryan Hunter-Reay entered that elite distinction within North American open-wheel racing.
The 2012 Verizon IndyCar Series champion added a win in the series’ biggest race, the 98th Indianapolis 500, to go along with the title. That puts him in rarified air among drivers who have secured both.
On Wednesday night, Hunter-Reay got to see the immortalization of his likeness on the iconic Borg-Warner Trophy, revealed at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway museum. The likeness, the 101st face on the trophy, is the 25th face created by sculptor William Behrends.
And for Hunter-Reay, even with six-plus months to prepare for the occasion, he was still in awe when he saw his face adorned on the trophy.
“There’s nothing you can do to be ready for it,” Hunter-Reay told MotorSportsTalk in a phone interview.
“It’s a lifelong, career-long goal, and you have to have a car good enough to win and deliver on that. It’s the energy of winning the greatest race in the world.
“This is the first opportunity to come back and see it really solidified. Now, it’s truly a part of history. I don’t know if I’ll understand the full magnitude until several years down the road. But to bring my family here to the museum and have them see my face on one of the greatest trophies is something you can barely describe.”
Indeed, the driver of the No. 28 DHL Honda for Andretti Autosport had wife Beccy and their two-year-old son Ryden also on hand for the display. Despite some playful poking, Ryan hasn’t yet secured a second “Mini Baby Borg” for Ryden to go along with his own “Baby Borg” he’ll receive early 2015 – as was the case for Tony Kanaan’s son Leo last year.
In examining the sculpting, Hunter-Reay said Behrends did a sterling job and nailed all his facial aspects.
“It’s me to a T,” he said. “It hits my cheeks, my chin … I have a pretty big chin going on. So he did an incredible job.”
Hunter-Reay is already prepping for the Baby Borg to come home with him to Fort Lauderdale, Florida.
“That’s the opportunity to bring the 500 victory home, when you’re at home,” he said. “I already have a space reserved for it. To be among the names, with so many of these guys I idolized growing up is pretty unique.”
The win was of course not only big for him personally, but for sponsor DHL and the rest of the Andretti team.
Photos from the process through to the unveil follow below: