A lot of drivers don't race for the money. If they wanted money in the bank a doctor, lawyer or hedge fund manager would have been the logical choice. Yes, racing at the highest level does come with a sizeable paycheck if done correctly, but racing is so much more than that. Its the prestige, its the danger and it is the skill of perfecting something that few have even the courage to do. Racing is about earning the prize. Here is a look at a few trophies that are worth far more than a pocket of change or bragging rights. These are the most notable trophies in the motorsports world.
The oldest, most famous trophy tradition is the Borg-Warner Trophy given to the winner of the Indy 500. Standing at 5' 4" tall on its added bases, the Borg weighs close to 153 lbs. Commissioned by automotive supplier Borg-Warner, designer Robert J. Hill was paid $10,000 for the original design. It debuted in 1936. Each winner of the Indy 500 is permanently etched in history by having a small, molded likeness affixed in a checkerboard pattern with their name, year and average speed. While the Borg lives permanently in the Indianapolis Motor Speedway museum, a small replica deemed the ‘Baby Borg’ is given to the 500 winner during a banquet in January.
IndyCar historian Donald Davidson confirmed a wild night one Butler University student had with the most famous IndyCar trophy in the late 1930’s. The night before the 500, the student was given the task to look after the Borg. He stowed it under his bed and came back to a raided room. The trophy was nowhere to be found. Checking the basement of the fraternity house where he lived, he found a group of young men filling the Borg with beer. He frantically emptied the hallowed cup and took a shower with it to remove the party smell. To make sure nothing like that happens again, the Borg-Warner trophy is not entrusted to college fraternity brothers anymore and is insured for over $1.3 million.
The equivalent to the Borg-Warner in the NASCAR world is the Harley J. Earl Daytona 500 Trophy. Named after the second commissioner of NASCAR and longtime concept car designer, this prize features the Firebird 1 prototype atop a large tri-oval stand. On the base, plaques adorn the trophy with the names of past year winners. It was introduced in 1959 and is roughly 4 feet. tall and 5 feet wide. A smaller version of this trophy is also given to each winner after hours of custom love and labor.
Drag racing also awards their own famous prize. It is named the ‘Wally’ after the first commissioner of the NHRA, Wally Parks. Wallys apparently come in different colors and finishes based off of the achievement but the main trophy is given to those that win national NHRA events. Roughly 18 inches tall, the Wally depicts a Top Gas racer named Jack Jones. Since its unveiling in 1969, the Wallys have been coveted and sought after by all levels of drag racers.
There are of course, other cups and plaques associated with winning races and championships, but these are the most notable and most sought after. Certain tracks might even have their own rituals for race winners like the Martinsville Grandfather Clock or the Texas Motor Speedway cowboy hat and six shooters. Racing is not supposed to be all about competing for a check, but to be remembered in history.