MOORESVILLE, N.C. – For Simon Pagenaud, his prized dog Norman is more than his pet; the Jack Russell terrier is part of the family.
Now, Norman is part of Indianapolis 500 history.
Pagenaud received the Baby Borg trophy Monday morning at Team Penske’s headquarters in Mooresville, N.C. When the miniature replica of the famed Borg-Warner Trophy presented to Indianapolis 500 winners was unveiled, Pagenaud was stunned to see the sculpted images of himself and Norman on the base of the Baby Borg.
“It’s a funny surprise because I didn’t expect that at all,” Pagenaud said. “It just shows the impact that having Norman next to me has on the industry of racing. I’m glad to see that my dog is becoming immortal, so that is pretty cool.
“That moment in victory lane after winning the Indianapolis 500 when he was there will always be a moment (fiancée) Hailey (McDermott) and I remember our whole lives. It will be the best moment of our life until we have kids together.
“This will always be our little family at that time.”
Norman was part of the celebration in Indianapolis Motor Speedway Victory Lane after Pagenaud won the 103rd Indianapolis 500 presented by Gainbridge on Sunday, May 26. It’s one of the few times in history that a dog has been with the winning driver after winning the biggest race in the world and the first time a Team Penske driver has celebrated the win with a pet.
Pagenaud won Indianapolis 500 from the pole 15 days after he also won the IndyCar Grand Prix on the IMS road course in the No. 22 Menards Team Penske Chevrolet.
In addition to Pagenaud receiving his Baby Borg at the Team Penske employee breakfast, team owner Roger Penske received a record-extending 18th Baby Borg trophy. That is 13 more Baby Borgs than the next-closest winning owner.
“Seventeen times I never saw a dog in the winner’s circle,” Penske said. “For the 18th time, we should recognize that. Will Behrends, the sculptor of the Borg-Warner Trophy, was motivated to make this extra special dog face for Simon as we went forward.
“No one in the history of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway has won the road race, the Indianapolis 500 pole and the race in the same two-week span. Simon will go down in the history book for that, for sure.”
In addition, BorgWarner made a $20,000 donation to IndyHumane, the Humane Society of Indianapolis, to help shelter dogs and help families adopt those dogs.
The donation was made in Pagenaud’s name, in recognition of his 2019 Indianapolis 500 win. IndyHumane has been a favorite charity of Pagenaud’s for a number of years, beginning when he lived in the Indianapolis area.
Pagenaud fostered a dog for Indy Humane during the Month of May in 2014. Also, Pagenaud participated in the organization’s signature fundraising event, Mutt Strut at IMS. IndyHumane has served Indianapolis and the surrounding counties since 1905. It provides vital services to animals through sheltering and adopting animals, positive reinforcement behavior training for shelter animals, and outreach through community and shelter programs.
“I’ve been very close to animals my whole life,” Pagenaud said. “I’ve had dogs since I was a little kid and I’ve been raised around dogs. I have an affection to animals.
“Personally, this was a big surprise I wasn’t expecting. It was an overwhelming moment.”
BorgWarner CEO Fred Lissalde said when the company saw the reaction on social media when Pagenaud and Norman were in victory lane together at Indy, it was decided to make Norman part of Pagenaud’s Baby Borg.
“The Indianapolis 500 is one of the most coveted races wins in all of motorsports, and it is BorgWarner’s honor to present the keepsake trophies to Simon and Roger,” Lissalde said. “Presenting the Baby Borg to Simon, a fellow countryman from France, for winning the Indianapolis 500 is personally a job for me.”
Pagenaud has posed with the Borg-Warner Trophy in victory lane at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, and the trophy accompanied him to the White House when the team was honored by President Trump on June 10 and most recently went to his native France.
The Borg-Warner Trophy has returned to its permanent home at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Museum. The Baby Borg, however, is the one Pagenaud gets to keep.
“That’s another amazing gesture of BorgWarner to allow the winner to have a memory of it,” Pagenaud said. “It’s a beautiful piece, and with the base, it goes well together. It’s going to be dead center in the middle of all of my other trophies.
“It is the most valuable personally and emotionally, and for the dream that I have had since I was a little kid to get to this point is my goal. I’m living my dream life.”
The Borg-Warner Trophy was unveiled in 1936 as a symbol of technology and innovation in racing and is the most coveted motorsports prize.