CHAMPCAR/CART: Mario Andretti Trophy Unveiled

MARIO ANDRETTI TROPHY FOR INAUGURAL CART ALL-STAR TEAM UNVEILED; OFFERS TO BE ONE OF THE MOST UNIQUE IN SPORTS DETROIT (October 29, 1999) - Championship Auto Racing Teams, in tandem with artist Elie Hazak and Champ Car legend Mario Andretti, ...

MARIO ANDRETTI TROPHY FOR INAUGURAL CART ALL-STAR TEAM UNVEILED; OFFERS TO BE ONE OF THE MOST UNIQUE IN SPORTS

DETROIT (October 29, 1999) - Championship Auto Racing Teams, in tandem with artist Elie Hazak and Champ Car legend Mario Andretti, today unveiled the Mario Andretti Trophy that will be thrust to the forefront as one of the most unique and artistically crafted trophies in the world of sports.

The Mario Andretti Trophy, presented to the driver who receives the most votes for the inaugural 1999 CART All-Star Team to be announced in early February, is an exquisite and rare blend of bronze, marble and walnut that captures the essence of Andretti's personality and illustrious auto-racing career.

"Everyone knows that racing was my work, but also the joy in my life. It is the ultimate compliment to me that CART looks back at those years and finds them so meaningful and worthy of recording," Andretti said. "I am honored to have this trophy in my name and cherish the opportunity that it gives me to have a lasting bond with CART. I am genuinely appreciative of everyone who continues to acknowledge my part in racing history. In the future, I will certainly enjoy watching young drivers in pursuit of this trophy. And, with a touch of sentiment, I will let this trophy bridge the gap between past and present for me."

The trophy, unveiled at the season-ending Marlboro 500 Presented by Toyota weekend at California Speedway, is the five-month creation of Hazak, a renowned Western artist who specializes in bronze sculpture.

"I didn't want this to be just another sports trophy like a cup or a vase. I wanted to create a piece of art that would be a centerpiece in a room and characterize the person it was named for," said Hazak, a 55-year-old immigrant from Israel who resides in Thousand Oaks, Calif. "It is a very unique trophy, unlike you would see in any sport. That was my target and I achieved my goal. I am very proud of it."

In tribute to Andretti, CART President and Chief Executive Officer Andrew Craig, on behalf of the sanctioning body, presented the racing legend with the original Mario Andretti Trophy in appreciation of his deep-rooted devotion to CART and overall accomplishments.

"We thought it would be fitting to give Mario the original as a sincere token of our appreciation for all his support of CART and the sport overall," Craig said. "This trophy encompasses his entire career and should prove to be a truly remarkable centerpiece for his personal trophy collection in his home."

The Mario Andretti Trophy is truly statuesque, standing 38 inches tall and weighing 95 pounds. Hazak also created the similar trophies that will be presented to the other four members of the CART All-Star Team. Those will be 15 inches in height, weigh 20 pounds and are a combination of bronze and marble.

"I thought it was extremely important to utilize three different types of material in creating such a special trophy," Hazak said. "It is a lost art - one that was prevalent in the 17th and 18th centuries - since today most people specialize in one type of material and will not spend the additional time to blend the multiple materials into one specialized piece of art. It was well worth the time and effort for Mario and CART."

The Mario Andretti Trophy features eight cars, including six of the most important as chosen by Andretti in his rise to superstardom, as well as an array of artistic symbolism by Hazak that captures the essence of the trophy's namesake.

"I think this trophy sums up my entire journey. It encompasses all the significant chapters of my career," Andretti, 59, said. "It's all represented here - all the eras, major victories and championships. Elie Hazak is a brilliant artist. Anyone with an appreciation for depth and intellect and expression will be fascinated by this man's ability to capture feeling in bronze. Elie has truly found a new, more human way to approach a trophy."

The six cars, distinct with their ocean green color, each represent an era in Andretti's career that culminated with a sterling Champ Car career. They consist of a dirt car, stock car, sports car, Formula One car, roadster and Champ Car. The trophy's other two cars, ocean green as well and situated in the front of all the others, represent current-style Champ Cars racing to the finish. One will bear the number "99," symbolizing the year of this inaugural team. The leading Champ Car will have the number of the new champion etched onto its nose.

The dirt car represents the dirt-track racing that Andretti did early in his career with midgets, sprint and Champ Cars. The car on the trophy represents a significant evolution in his career when he recorded victories in all of the divisions and captured the dirt-car championship in 1973.

The stock car represents his brief but successful venture into that form of racing. The car featured is the one in which he captured the jewel event of that sport, the Daytona 500, in 1967. The stock car also symbolizes his victory in the International Race of Champions event in 1979.

The sports car symbolizes another form of his racing diversity as he competed successfully across the globe for numerous years. This particular car symbolizes a World Manufacturers Championship in 1972 when Andretti contributed four victories for Ferrari along with Jacki Ickx.

The Formula One car symbolizes Andretti's ability to take on the world's best in another premier open-wheel series and forge another successful career. In 128 starts, he earned 12 victories and 18 poles and the featured car is the one in which he captured the 1978 World Championship.

The roadster represents the true beginnings of Andretti's Champ Car career in 1964 and also represents the last breed of front-engine race cars before the evolution of the rear-engine cars. This car is a tribute to his participation in both eras.

The Champ Car symbolizes his specialty in racing as well as the sport in which he enjoyed his most prolific career. He made an all-time Champ Car-record 407 starts, earned 52 wins, 67 pole positions and led 7,587 laps. The poles and laps led rank first all-time while the victories rank second in history. His career was highlighted by the FedEx Championship Series crown in 1984, four national championships (1966, 1967, 1968, 1969) and a victory in the 1969 Indianapolis 500. Andretti began his Champ Car career in 1964 and it spanned 31 seasons, including 16 in the FedEx Championship Series. During that span (1979-94), he made 209 starts and collected 19 wins, 30 poles and led 3,064 laps. Andretti retired following the 1994 season.

The spiraling speedway with the cars circles three elements of symbolism - half of a globe, an olive tree and obelisk. The globe represents Andretti's past and present as one section depicts his birthplace of Italy (Montona) while another depicts the Eastern seaboard, including the Delaware River and the state of Pennsylvania in a tribute to his long-time hometown of Nazareth, Pa.

Rising from the top half of the globe are the roots of the olive tree that are wrapped around the lower half of the obelisk. The roots reach to Italy and Nazareth - symbolizing his family roots - while the olive tree itself represents the symbols of peace and life.

The obelisk, made of marble, dramatically rises from the bronze and ocean-green globe and is reminiscent of the Washington Monument. Hazak's use of the obelisk for symbolism, however, dates well beyond the construction of the Washington Monument. His reference dates to the Egyptian times and represents auto racing as Andretti's temple.

The trophy sits on a matching piece of marble that is situated atop a walnut base. The Mario Andretti Trophy placard on the walnut base is made of polished bronze and will be joined by smaller placards of the annual winners of the award.

CART took a unique approach to the creation of the CART All-Star Team centerpiece by commissioning an artist that was considered a personal favorite of Andretti. He became enamoured with Hazak's work with bronze after viewing several pieces in early March at a gallery in Scottsdale, Ariz. Hazak does not create trophies of any kind, but was honored that Andretti would recommend him as his top choice to produce the trophy.

"When I suggested to CART that sculptor Elie Hazak be the one to create the Mario Andretti Trophy, his name was just that to me - a name - a signature on a piece of art," Andretti said. "They were not like anything I had ever seen before - and I've been around. His work is not cold bronze, but bronze with emotion. Bronze that somehow he creates from the inside out. Elie's bronze is alive. I was certain that these sculptures couldn't have been made with human hands. When I suggested him to CART, I really felt it was a long shot. Of course, however, I was hopeful and CART, to its credit, delivered in a very big way."

The two met for the first time during the Long Beach race weekend in mid-April. They had dinner together and spent it complimenting each other's work and describing their passion for their professions. The two formed an instant bond and friendship after discussing being immigrants - Hazak from Israel and Andretti from Italy - and arriving in the United States with little money and lots of dreams.

"Today, I not only have enormous respect and admiration for Elie Hazak's work, but for the person," Andretti said. "Since Elie began sculpting the Mario Andretti Trophy, I've had the pleasure of being invited to his home as well as to his studio. We've had dinner together. And who I've come to know is an intricate and complex man from Jerusalem who has been driven by passion all of his life. I can relate so well to that kind of passion. Growing up, he wanted so badly to sculpt that he would go to Mt. Zion to the burial place of King David, catch melted wax from the candles and sculpt it. That is passion. And when he came to this country in 1969, he was 24, had $15 and his fascination with sculptures had become a clear aspiration. Can I ever identify with that!

"It's so terrific that he made it as an artist. And I am so anxious to have him unveil my story in bronze. Elie's bronze sculptures all tell a story. The CART audience is about to be awakened by an incredible artist. And we will thank Elie Hazak for finding a new, more human way to approach a trophy." The CART All-Star Team will consist of five Champ Car drivers who are selected through balloting from a voting committee comprised of a select panel of motorsports media, FedEx Championship Series drivers and a celebrity trio consisting of actors Tim Allen and Anthony Edwards, and 1999 Baseball Hall of Fame inductee Robin Yount.

The voting process will have the panelists select five Champ Car drivers on their ballots and rank them in order of merit as points will be awarded to each driver in descending order. The first driver selected will receive 10 points; second, seven (7) points; third, five (5) points; fourth, three (3) points; fifth, one (1) point. The Champ Car driver who earns the most points on the ballots will be awarded the Mario Andretti Trophy, the showcase award for the CART All-Star Team.

The inaugural Mario Andretti Trophy recipient and CART All-Star Team will be officially announced and celebrated during Spring Training 2000 in Miami.

Mario Andretti Trophy Fast Facts

Artist: Elie Hazak.

Trophy namesake: Mario Andretti, a legendary Champ Car driver and one of the most successful and diversified drivers in the history of auto racing.

Time for completion (design to finished product): 5 months.

Height: 38 inches.

Weight: 95 pounds.

Materials used: Bronze, marble, walnut.

Components: Situated on a walnut base covered with a sheet of marble, the trophy consists of a half globe, obelisk, curving speedway and eight cars representing the path of Andretti's entire career.

Cars featured (8): Champ Cars (3), roadster, Formula One car, sports car, stock car, dirt car.

Recipient: The FedEx Championship Series driver who earns the most balloting points from a voting committee comprised of a select panel of motorsports media, FedEx Championship Series drivers and the celebrity trio consisting of actors Tim Allen and Anthony Edwards, and Baseball Hall of Famer Robin Yount.

CART All-Star Trophy Fast Facts

Artist: Elie Hazak.

Height: 15 inches.

Weight: 20 pounds.

Materials used: Bronze, marble.

Components: Situated on a bronze base, the trophy consists of a half globe, obelisk and curving speedway with Champ Cars.

Cars featured (7): Champ Cars.

Annual winners (4): While the leading vote-getter will receive the Mario Andretti Trophy winner, the other four FedEx Championship Series drivers who earn the most balloting points from a voting committee comprised of a select panel of motorsports media, FedEx Championship Series drivers and the celebrity trio consisting of actors Tim Allen and Anthony Edwards and Baseball Hall of Famer Robin Yount will receive the smaller CART All-Star Team trophies to complete the five-member team.

CART All-Star Team Fast Facts

Inaugurated: March 16,1999.

Members on the team: 5.

Voting panel: Comprised of a select panel of motorsports media, FedEx Championship Series drivers and a celebrity trio consisting of actors Tim Allen and Anthony Edwards and Hall of Fame baseball player Robin Yount.

Voting process: The panelists select five Champ Car drivers on their ballots and rank them in order of merit as points will be awarded to each driver in descending order. The first driver selected will receive 10 points; second, seven (7) points; third, five (5) points; fourth, three (3) points; fifth, one (1) point.

1999 All-Star Team announcement: Spring Training 2000, Miami, Fla.

Midseason All-Star Team members (as voted on by the panelists): Juan Montoya of Target/Chip Ganassi Racing, Dario Franchitti of Team KOOL Green, Michael Andretti of Newman/Haas Racing, Gil de Ferran of Walker Racing, Helio Castro-Neves of Hogan Racing.

Awards: The leading vote-getter will be the recipient of the specially-crafted Mario Andretti Trophy; the other four CART All-Star selections will receive specially-made All-Star Trophies.

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Series IndyCar
Drivers Gil de Ferran , Dario Franchitti , Mario Andretti , Chip Ganassi
Teams Chip Ganassi Racing