Monday, May 15, 2017

Musings From the Weekend: Let Them Have It

Penske won again at Indianapolis. Mercedes, Ferrari and Red Bull all had one car retire at Barcelona. Jonathan Rea did not win this weekend. Formula E returned to Monaco. A rabbit ran onto the track at Monza. There were few fiery incidents, one at Imola and one in Kansas. Thoughts and prayers to Aric Almirola after suffering a compression fracture to his T5 vertebrae in an accident. Here is a run down of what got me thinking.

Let Them Have It
The last month has been dominated by Fernando Alonso's Indianapolis 500 attempt. It had the world talking about the Indianapolis 500 on April 12th. The Indianapolis 500 has never had that much attention on April 12th. His appearance on Barber was just as much of an event as the Barber race. His rookie orientation program was streamed online and a couple million people watched it and it trended in many European countries.

During Alonso's initial trip to the United States, after the Barber weekend, he headed up to Indianapolis and visited Andretti Autosport's shop, got his seat fitted and got to use the simulator but he also got a glimpse of the Borg-Warner Trophy in person.

I am guessing it was his first time seeing the trophy although he may have seen it during one of his handful of appearances at Indianapolis Motor Speedway for the United States Grand Prix but he got to study the trophy at the Andretti shop. He described it as beautiful and said he would proud to take the trophy home.

Of course, as most IndyCar fans know, the trophy is not something the race winner keeps and drivers are awarded the affectionately known "Baby Borg," an 18-inch replica.

While the "Baby Borg" is just as beloved by race winners as the behemoth, there is something dissatisfying with the lack of time the winning driver gets with the actually Borg-Warner Trophy. Outside of a few appearances and maybe the occasional trip to the team shop, the Borg-Warner Trophy is pretty much kept at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Museum.

We are in the middle of the Stanley Cup Playoffs and since 1994 each member of the winning team gets a day with the Cup and the trophy has had some famous moments. It has gone worldwide, took a dip in Mario Lemieux's pool, used for baptisms and even been a dog bowl. These moments have added to the lure of the Stanley Cup and each player gets a chance to have his own special moment with it.

It may be copying but there is no reason why the Indianapolis Motor Speedway couldn't allow the Borg-Warner Trophy into the hands of the race winner starting the night of the Indianapolis 500 Banquet the night after the race. A race team is slightly different than a hockey team. The driver gets the glory but there are plenty of men and women behind the scenes who work their fingers to the bone that we don't see and for a race like Indianapolis where crew members work all day and in some cases all night for at least two weeks if not more, the least they deserve is a day with the Borg-Warner Trophy.

Here is my proposal: The Borg-Warner Trophy is released to the winning team once the banquet is completed. If the Speedway wants to hire a "keeper of the Borg" to keep an eye on the trophy and the same way Phil Pritchard is "keeper of the Cup" then fine but give it to the team and the team keeps it from the banquet until let's say December 1st. On December 1st, it is returned to the museum and it is on display for six months until the next race.

In the six months the team gets the Borg-Warner Trophy, they can split it however they would like. Let the driver get it for a few days and then maybe pass it on to the front right tire changer and then the fueler and so on. I bet there are some crew members who would love to take it to their families and show it off to their father or mother who have been following the race for 60-plus years. If someone wants to take it on vacation to the Grand Canyon, let them. Think of all the great places this trophy could go and think about all the positive publicity it could be seen.

I could be wrong. Maybe the teams get more time with the Borg-Warner Trophy than we know but it should be something that is celebrated and shared if that is the case. I am sure everyone has a story worth sharing.

Let's just take Fernando Alonso as an example. Should he win, imagine if he was allowed to take the trophy to Montreal for the Canadian Grand Prix two weeks later and Baku two weeks after that and imagine if he was able to bring it to other dates on the Formula One schedule. That would only increase the Indianapolis 500's exposure around the world. Once Alonso was done with it, the men and women who worked on the car could get their own moments with the trophy.

The Speedway and the series seems to have become more relaxed with the Borg-Warner Trophy and with bright minds like Doug Boles in charge of the track I could see him realizing how allowing the Borg-Warner Trophy out of the track's grasp for a period could be beneficial for the race.

Winners From the Weekend
You know about Will Power but did you know...

Lewis Hamilton won the Spanish Grand Prix.

Charles Leclerc and Nobuharu Matsushita split the Formula Two races at Barcelona. Nirei Fukuzumi and Haas development driver Arjun Maini split the GP3 Series season opener.

Nico Jamin and Kyle Kaiser split the Indy Lights races from the IMS road course. Victor Franzoni swept the Pro Mazda races. Oliver Askew swept the U.S. F2000 races again.

Sébastien Buemi won the Monaco ePrix.

Chaz Davies swept the World Superbike races from Imola. Kenan Sofuoglu won in World Supersport, his second consecutive victory. American P.J. Jacobsen finished third in Supersport.

The #22 G-Drive Racing Oreca-Gibson of Ryō Hirakawa, Memo Rojas and Léo Roussel won the 4 Hours of Monza. The #19 M.Racing - YMR Norma-Nissan of Ricky Capo and Erwin Creed won in LMP3. The #66 JMW Motorsport Ferrari of Jody Fannin, Robert Smith and Jonny Cocker won in GTE.

Roberto Colciago and Stefano Comini split the TCR International Series races from Monza.

Martin Truex, Jr. won the NASCAR Cup race from Kansas. Kyle Busch won the Truck race.

The #63 GRT Grasser Racing Team Lamborghini of Christian Engelhart, Mirko Bortolotti and Andrea Caldarelli won the Blancpain Endurance Series race at Silverstone, the team's third consecutive Blancpain Endurance Series victory dating back to last season and fourth consecutive Blancpain GT Series victory in 2017.

Tiago Monteiro and Mehdi Bennani split the WTCC races from the Hungaroring.

Coming Up This Weekend
Indianapolis 500 Time Trials.
NASCAR All-Star Race.
Formula E heads north to Paris.
MotoGP will be at Le Mans.
Pirelli World Challenge contests its second SprintX weekend at Mosport.
Deutsche Tourenwagen Masters heads to its second round of the season at Lausitzring.
Super GT runs its third round of the season at Autopolis.
Supercars will be at Winton Motor Raceway, its final race before a one month break.
World Rally Championship will be in Portugal.