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Book Review: “Metal of Honor, The History of the Borg-Warner Trophy”

 

By Paul Gohde

A book written about the Indianapolis 500 winner’s Borg-Warner trophy is somewhat hard to describe. Is the 136-page, hardcover, limited-edition volume a picture book about the history of the race winners, a record book with entertaining facts, or a book that describes how the iconic award originated and how the images on it are sculpted? When you get a chance to read it you’ll find it’s a little of each of those and much, more.

The Borg-Warner Trophy was commissioned by the then Borg-Warner Corporation in 1935 to commemorate the winner of the Indianapolis 500 each May. That first silver trophy, presented to 1936 winner Louis Meyer, also featured the sculpted faces of the 24 previous race winners (24 due to co-winners in 1924), beginning with Ray Harroun in 1911.

The company, having been involved with the race since its inception, has established a tradition that has made the trophy as well known as the Lombardi Trophy in the NFL or the Commissioner’s Trophy in major-league baseball.

Today’s company, BorgWarner Inc., chose the 2016 100th Indianapolis 500 to issue a book, “Metal of Honor-The History of the Borg-Warner Trophy”, to celebrate its many years of being associated with the ‘Greatest Race in the World’ and to honor the drivers and teams who have won it.

Each race and its winner are recapped in detail including records of the race and pictures of the winning car and the driver’s trophy image. There are sections that introduce the current sculptor, William Behrends, honor the four-time race winners (AJ, Rick Mears and Al Unser Sr.), list all 758 drivers who raced at Indy through 2015, and picture Roger Penske with his then 16, currently 17, Baby Borgs. But there is so much more to a book that will earn a place of honor in anyone’s motorsports library.

By far my favorite section of the publication is the group of informal color photos showing 14 recent winners (AJ through Juan Pablo) in relaxed poses, arms hugging their prize. Dario Franchitti is even pictured sitting cross-legged next to the towering award.

BorgWarner first gave this book out to its guests who attended the 2016 500 but have made it available to any fan who wants to purchase one; and you should if you have any love for the race and its traditions.

You may contact BorgWarner at: https://borgwarner.corpmerchandise.com/

 

 

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Paul Gohde heard the sound of race cars early in his life.

Growing up in suburban Milwaukee, just north of Wisconsin State Fair Park in the 1950’s, Paul had no idea what “that noise” was all about that he heard several times a year. Finally, through prodding by friends of his parents, he was taken to several Thursday night modified stock car races on the old quarter-mile dirt track that was in the infield of the one-mile oval -and he was hooked.

The first Milwaukee Mile event that he attended was the 1959 Rex Mays Classic won by Johnny Thomson in the pink Racing Associates lay-down Offy built by the legendary Lujie Lesovsky. After the 100-miler Gohde got the winner’s autograph in the pits, something he couldn’t do when he saw Hank Aaron hit a home run at County Stadium, and, again, he was hooked.

Paul began attending the Indianapolis 500 in 1961, and saw A. J. Foyt’s first Indy win. He began covering races in 1965 for Racing Wheels newspaper in Vancouver, WA as a reporter/photographer and his first credentialed race was Jim Clark’s historic Indy win.Paul has also done reporting, columns and photography for Midwest Racing News since the mid-sixties, with the 1967 Hoosier 100 being his first big race to report for them.

He is a retired middle-grade teacher, an avid collector of vintage racing memorabilia, and a tour guide at Miller Park. Paul loves to explore abandoned race tracks both here and in Europe, with the Brooklands track in Weybridge England being his favorite. Married to Paula, they have three adult children and two cats.

Paul loves the diversity of all types of racing, “a factor that got me hooked in the first place.”