Takuma Sato tasted victory for the second time in last year’s fan-less Indy 500 race, and while I’m sure it was an extremely sweet flavor, he has an opportunity to make things even better this year. Borg Warner has had a fund in which it has placed $20,000 every year for any driver able to win concurrent Indy 500s. This fund kicked off in 1995, and has only been taken one time — as a $160,000 bonus — by Helio Castroneves in 2002. If Sato manages to win his third Indy this year, he’ll secure an even bigger Indy payout than he did last year.
“The Indianapolis 500 is a cherished pastime for our company and the rolling jackpot, on top of the coveted Borg-Warner Trophy, brings an added level of excitement to the race,” said Frédéric Lissalde, president and CEO of BorgWarner Inc. “We are delighted to have accumulated this sizeable reward and eager to witness the next back-to-back victor claim the prize for their remarkable accomplishment.”
There have only been five Indy winners to do it twice in a row in the history of the oldest race in the U.S. The legendary Wilbur Shaw got his in 1940, Mauri Rose in 1948, and Bill Vukovich in 1954. Some readers, though likely not many, will remember when Al Unser did it in 1971. And the aforementioned Castroneves double-up in 2002. Hell, only twenty drivers in the history of the race have one more than once, with Taku-san being among them, obviously, after his wins in 2017 and 2020.
The Borg-Warner Trophy has been presented to the winning driver each year the Indy 500 has been run, with each subsequent year’s winner getting a sculpted replica of their face added to the side of the giant silver cup. The trophy gets passed on from racer to racer every year, but each winner also gets a miniaturized version of the BWT, known as the “Baby Borg” to keep.
Personally, I’d love to see Taku take the win again, not because I think he needs the extra $380,000 payout, but because he didn’t get to have anyone cheer for him in the stands last year. While I’m still skeptical of whether the Indy 500 should be run with so many people in the stands, I’m sure it will be quite nice to hear a roaring crowd again. Good luck Taku, drive fast, be brave, and take chances.