Either Dario Franchitti or Will Power will receive the inaugural IZOD IndyCar Series Championship Trophy following the Cafes do Brasil Indy 300 at Homestead-Miami Speedway on Oct. 2. Both title contenders were part of the unveiling of the 3ft-tall, 45lb trophy during a media event Tuesday at the W Hotel on South Beach in Miami.
IZOD collaborated with and commissioned acclaimed sculptor Ted Gall to design and create the award, which conveys the intertwined nature of man and machine in the 21st century. The stainless steel sculpture of man with outstretched arms balanced on a single wheel rests atop an African Pedauk hardwood base.
"We're not just a human form; we're what we use all the time," said Gall, who added he intends all his work to be both visually and psychologically intriguing. "It used to be if you were a cowboy you'd ride a horse. Now we're really attached to wheels our whole lives. The arms are imploring; they're reaching out for that golden ring, for that big win."
Power takes a tenuous points advantage into Saturday night's season finale, which will feature a 27-car field on the 1.5-mile oval. Franchitti, the reigning Indianapolis 500 champion, needs to finish at least two positions ahead of Power in the 200-lap race to claim his third championship in four years.
After talking with IZOD IndyCar Series drivers, other motorsports participants and IZOD principals, Gall sought to create a piece of artwork for the champion to proudly display as a testament to their accomplishments throughout the season on the most diverse set of racetracks in motorsports.
"The drivers were really tired of getting bowling trophies," Gall said. "They're bowls or something that doesn't relate to what they're doing. IZOD has gone beyond other sports. Rather than give out the run-of-the-mill trophy, they're giving artwork to the drivers about what they are."
The angular-cut base of African Pedauk, which has a natural orange or yellow hue, was darkened by a process of ebonizing, and Gall added some texture to either side for "a little bit of an art deco feeling to it."
"The combination of stainless steel and the dark wood is wonderful," Gall said. "The steel is very strong and very industrial and very gutsy and the wood is very warm and beautiful. It's a nice combination of strength and richness."
Similar trophies will formally be presented to the second- and third-place championship finishers at the Championship Celebration on Oct. 3 at the W Hotel on South Beach in Miami. Only one arm is outstretched on each of these 26-inch-tall trophies.
"They're a little bit more aggressive; they're reaching out, they're grabbing for that win," Gall said.
In addition to Franchitti and Power, Helio Castroneves and Scott Dixon are in the running to receive the runner-up and third-place awards.
"What better way to end our first year as the title sponsor of the IZOD IndyCar Series, than to collaborate on the design of a Championship trophy that will lead us into a new era of IndyCar racing," said Mike Kelly, executive vice president of marketing for Phillips Van-Heusen (parent company of IZOD). "We wanted to create something that would truly represent the speed, excitement and innovation that is the IZOD IndyCar Series and we feel that Ted Gall, with his compelling aesthetic and thought-provoking vision, was the perfect artist for the project.
"The final result, with its outstretched arms reaching into the future, is a stunning statement that pays tribute to the amazing athletic champion who will win it."