The company’s involvement stretches back to 1935, when it commissioned a 5-foot-tall silver trophy for the race. The next year, Louis Meyer won the race, and his likeness — along with those of his 24 predecessors — was sculpted onto the trophy.
Verrier, an Englishman, attended his first race in 2000. At the time, he was working for BorgWarner’s turbo division in Indianapolis.
Although he had followed Formula One as a youth, he was unprepared for Indy’s sheer spectacle. “It’s one of those things where people tell you what it will be like, but you can’t really be prepared for it. It was pretty emotional.”
Verrier was tossed into the cauldron in 2013, when he was named CEO and assumed the duties of trophy presenter. His predecessor, Tim Manganello, had prepped him for the victory ceremony, but it all came unglued after winner Tony Kanaan’s fans rushed the victory circle.
“My first year, the security broke down, and it was a disaster,” Verrier recalled. “Everybody was jumping on the car.”
The speedway tightened up security after that, but the annual ceremony retains a touch of anarchy. Oddly, Verrier says he is sometimes one of the last to learn who the winner is, if it’s a close race.
“That’s because when I’m down trackside, it’s so noisy,” he said. “I’m asking everybody, ‘Who won? Who won?’ And then I see the car coming toward me ... ”