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IndyCar Indy 500

Newgarden cherishes "very special" trek to Borg-Warner sculpturer's shop

Josef Newgarden relished the unique experience of every Indianapolis 500 winner with the annual trek to sculptor William Behrends’ workshop in North Carolina.

Josef Newgarden and William Behrends

Behrends has been the artist behind the scenes, creating the sterling silver likeness of every victor of ‘The Greatest Spectacle in Racing’ since Arie Luyendyk in 1990, which is blazoned upon the famed Borg-Warner Trophy. Newgarden represents the 34th image for Behrends, who has hosted every winner since 2015 for a sitting to carve the final details.

“Before that, all I had was 15-20 minutes with them the morning after the race to take photographs and then that's the last time I saw them until the next year,” Behrends told Motorsport.com.

“For them to come up and spend the day and we sit for two or three hours in the studio working on the clay model, we get to talk and get to know them a little bit. That really enriches the experience for me, and I think makes for a better work. It's really very valuable for me.”

Josef Newgarden's Borg Warner bust in the making

Josef Newgarden's Borg Warner bust in the making

Photo by: Scott LePage

However, this visit was slightly different as Behrends’ granddaughters, who are in second and fourth grade, respectively, gifted Newgarden three friendship bracelets to share among himself, wife Ashley and their son. Newgarden provided cartwheels, laughs, smiles and thanks in return. “It's a really fun trip,” said Newgarden, 32.

“You don't know what this is like until you get to do it. In a lot of ways, it's like trying to explain the Indy 500, most people just can't appreciate it unless they've been there, seen it and felt it for themselves. And [Friday] was one of those moments. It's really phenomenal to see Will's shop and what he does. He's really world class and very fitting for the Borg-Warner Trophy. He really makes sure that it is done to the highest level, just really captures the significance and the history of the event. So, it's fun to see that up close and personal.

“The sculpture deal, I didn't even really know what to expect. It was, the one word is cool, but it's different. It's bizarre to see yourself in that way. It's different than looking at yourself in the mirror.”

The chiseled features of Newgarden’s face made for a likeness all its own for Behrends.

“What first struck me was just the strength of his features,” Behrends said. “He's got a very strong jaw. He's got good bone structure, which is sort of the foundation of what a sculptor starts with. And then also he has got a very expressive face. He's got a very genuine smile with his entire face. You know, just a good-looking guy and a really ideal subject.”

Behrends’ work begins with a more life-sized model before the next part of the process of creating a piece that is roughly the size of an egg with mirrored craftsmanship that will ultimately be seen on the iconic trophy.

“You really have to bring out those things that you see; that strong jaw, that genuine smile and everything,” Behrends said. “You sort of have to accentuate those because you want the viewer to be able to immediately say, 'Yep, that's Josef Newgarden.'”

While finding glory on May 28 “sunk in immediately” crossing the finish line with his No. 2 Team Penske Chevrolet, it is these moments that build into an offseason of reflection for the accomplishment for Newgarden – whenever that time to rest can finally happen.

“I think the time to appreciate it is definitely going to come now in this offseason, which really isn't going to get there until probably November-ish is when things are going to start to slow down and we can have some time,” Newgarden said.

“I've not had it yet. Since Laguna, we've been pretty full throttle on so much stuff, so I haven't even been home yet. I'm excited for some downtime come November-ish. But for me, it sunk in immediately. The realization of it didn't take much time. It's the appreciation that's going to be enjoyable later in the offseason.”

CLICK HERE for more photos from Newgarden's visit to Behrends' workshop.

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