Sato checks in with Behrends for new BorgWarner portrait

Scott LePage

Sato checks in with Behrends for new BorgWarner portrait


Sato checks in with Behrends for new BorgWarner portrait


Not much time has passed since Takuma Sato sat and posed for sculptor William Behrends. Located in the remote hills of Tryon, North Carolina, Behrends hosted the two-time and newest winner of the Indianapolis 500 to produce a life-size bust of the Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing driver’s head that will be replicated in miniature form on the BorgWarner trophy.

Having visited Behrends following his Indy 500 win in 2017, and with no visible signs of aging since the first appearance on the gleaming monument, Sato was interested to learn how the artist would go about producing something different from the original bust.

“It’s a fascinating process compared to ’17, and it’s a surprise to see how detailed it is; has my face changed? Not necessarily,” Sato told RACER. “William started from the scratch, and we haven’t actually done the side-by-side with my face from ’17 yet, but we will be maybe later on. But the new one both looks happier and more current; I like this new one. It shows I’m having a great time.”

For Behrends, the process of creating a new bust of Sato involved ignoring his past work with the Japanese ace.

Behrends has made a point of not referring back to his 2017 Sato portrait as he continues work on the 2020 version that will grace the BorgWarner Trophy. Scott R LePage

“What I’ve done this year is I haven’t looked at that 2017 image, and looked for something different in this one,” he said. “So, I’ve treated this one as if this is the first time I’m doing the image of Takuma starting from scratch, and ignoring whether that three years of difference is reflected in the later one. And in doing it again in 2020 version, I’m reminded that Takuma is such a great subject. He’s got great bone structure; he’s got a very expressive face and a wonderful smile; smiles with his entire face. And so he’s just a delight to do, and it’s a lot of fun for me.”

Asked if he was bribed by RLLR co-owner David Letterman to have his second BorgWarner likeness sculpted with a giant white beard mirroring the one worn by the comedian, the Tokyo native said it might have to wait for his third Indy 500 win.

“He never mentioned that; it would it be a completely different outcome!” Sato said with a laugh.