Victory Circle at the 100th Indianapolis 500 was – and still is – a blur for Alexander Rossi.
The Californian remembers his father being there. And car owners Michael Andretti and Bryan Herta. The memory of a photographer friend, standing in the overflow crowd of photographers capturing the historic moment.
“It’s very small bits that I remember and take in,” Rossi said recently. “I remember putting the wreath on. I remember the milk and not knowing if I should drink it all or pour it on myself. Small pieces that come to me when I think about it and spend some time trying to think about it.
“I enjoy it that way because it’s not something that’s a full 15 minutes in my mind, it’s very key moments and special moments that I think about on a near daily basis.”
Rossi’s memories of the Borg-Warner Trophy are more from the day after the race, at the traditional “day-after” photo shoot, when he was posing in front of his No. 98 Honda with the trophy and one of his spotters pointed to the spot where his likeness would go.
“And I just knelt down and looked at that for a couple of minutes,” Rossi said.
The next time the champion looks at that spot, it won’t be blank anymore.
In a week, Rossi will see his likeness affixed to the famed trophy.
The ceremony, to be held on Wednesday evening, Dec. 7, at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Museum, is a moment that will put a bow on a six-month whirlwind for the man who became the first American rookie to win the “500” since Louis Meyer in 1928. It was a memorable win for the winner and for the method – Rossi coasted across the Yard of Bricks after 200 laps on a fuel tank that was all but empty.
When the trophy is with you after the win and all the pomp-and-circumstance that immediately follows, that’s one thing. But once you’re really on it, that’s an entirely different experience.
“I can’t wait to see it,” he said.
Rossi traveled to Borg-Warner likeness sculptor William Behrends’ studio in North Carolina in September to spend some time reliving May 29 and looking at Behrends’ work.
For the artist, every year tells a new tale – and this one’s pretty great.
“I know at the end of it, there’s going to be a new face and a new challenge and a new story that’s going to be great on that Sunday, and it never gets old,” Behrends said. “This one was particularly interesting and exciting because of the way it ended and the winner.”