TRYON, N.C. — A trip to the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains in Autumn is a popular diversion for people who want to enjoy the peace and serenity of nature’s beauty.
Takuma Sato enjoyed it so much, he made a return trip to this mountainside community located near the North Carolina-South Carolina state line.
It’s the home of famed sculptor William Behrends, who has sculpted the Indianapolis 500 winner’s face on the Borg-Warner Trophy since 1990. Sato made his first trip to Behrends’ studio after winning the 101st Indianapolis 500 in 2017.
Sato returned on Oct. 7 for another sculpting session that will recognize his second Indy 500 victory that came on Aug. 23.
“It’s me again,” Sato said as he walked into the studio and saw the life-size clay image of his face when it was unveiled.
The day at the studio was an important step in the lengthy process that starts the day after winning the Indianapolis 500, when photographs are taken of the winner’s face to give Behrends depth and detail as he creates the image. The next step is the life-size clay image that was unveiled in late September.
As an artist, it is necessary for Behrends to add additional detail to Sato’s face, so the winner of each year’s Indy 500 arrives to sit in for more sculpting. Behrends meticulously looks for every detail, wrinkle or line in Sato’s face as he works with the clay image.
The challenge for Behrends is to make Sato’s face appear different from the bas-relief sterling silver sculpture that is attached to the Borg-Warner Trophy to commemorate the Japanese driver’s 2017 Indy victory
Sato is the first multi-time Indy 500 winner since Dario Franchitti in 2012.
“Dario had the buzz cut when he won his first Indy 500 in 2007, but in 2010 and ’12, he looks similar,” Behrends told SPEED SPORT. “There were some differences. If you look at that, there are differences. There are any number of ways I could do this image. I don’t think once I have done it, that it’s done. There are some differences. If I had to do the same person 10 times, I would hope I could find something different each time.
“There are any number of ways I can do these images. I just do it and then at the end, we’ll see if it shows a little bit different Takuma, if it shows three years that have lapsed.
“But Takuma just has a great face, a face that a sculptor loves. He has great bone structure and a great smile.
“I did him in 2017 and I have that life-size image that I did for him on the high shelf in my studio, but I haven’t even taken it down. I haven’t even looked at that and started this one as if I had never done him before.
“I have yet to take that one down and compare the two, but how different they are, it’s something I don’t know yet.”
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