AUSTIN, Texas When the top-three drivers and winning team receive their trophies after the inaugural Formula One race just outside of Austin this month, they'll hold above their heads a unique symbol of precision, speed and, of course, the state of Texas.
The trophies, which are unique to the U.S. Grand Prix, were designed and handcrafted by Fox Silver Ltd., a nine-person company based in about 4,000 square feet of a factory on a dead-end street in south London.
Fox Silver specializes in trophies, tableware and work for clients including Rolls Royce, Pernod Ricard and No. 10 Downing Street. The company has created trophies for many motorsports series, including several Formula One grands prix and the trophies given at the end of the season to Formula One's winning driver and winning constructor.
The company was selected by Circuit of the Americas after a meeting at the British Grand Prix at Silverstone in July, said Richard Fox, who founded the company 30 years ago. The trophies were finished and shipped on Tuesday, he said.
"They're different from my usual ones, and I'm really happy that they've worked out so well," Fox said Wednesday. "As soon as you see them they should immediately make people think of America, that's what I'm hoping for anyway. I think they're fun as well."
Tom Schneider, vice president of guest services for Circuit of The Americas, said track officials considered several companies, including Tiffany & Co., but they chose Fox Silver in part because of its experience in working with Formula One.
The Formula One sporting regulations set by the Federation Internationale de l'Automobile contain a section specific to trophies. The regulations say trophies "must be in the form of traditional cups," and can be no taller than 25.6 inches and weigh no more than 11 pounds.
The U.S. Grand Prix trophies range from 16 inches to 21.7 inches and weigh from 7.7 pounds to about 11 pounds, Fox said.
In honor of Texas, the theme of a five-pointed star is carried throughout, and the arms reflect a 252-foot observation tower at Circuit of the Americas, he said.
Each trophy consists of 180 components, each piece designed, cut, crafted and finished by hand at the factory, Fox said.
The bowls are sterling silver with 24-karat hard gold plate inside: "So when they drink their champagne out of it they can be assured that it's very, very clean," Fox said.
Five arms are plated in black gold, with a support structure behind in red gold plate, Fox said. A silver disk with the Formula One logo rests in the center. Each arm contains five silver and black gold fixing points, he said.
The base consists of an inscription collar of sterling silver, three bands of red, white and blue acrylic, and the star and laurels of the Texas seal in gold on a silver dome.
"It's classic yet gives us that look and feel of a Texas event at a world-class sporting venue," Schneider said of the trophy.
Fox designed the trophy on pencil and paper, refined the designs on computer and then a five-person team set to work in early August after receiving final approval from circuit officials and Formula One.
"There's a lot that goes on behind the scenes," Fox said, "but it's about understanding technologies, and that's what it's all about. What I love doing is using really traditional techniques but mixing them with highly contemporary methods of manufacture."
New trophies are created every year that can have slight changes to color or material but that keep the overall shape and theme, Fox said.
"It's quite important that the image of the trophy continues so people understand that that is one that's famous for Circuit of the Americas, for example, or Monaco. It brings a certain longevity," Fox said. "They're all unique, they're all hand-made by us, and the only people that get them are those that have won them."
Information from: Austin American-Statesman, http://www.statesman.com.