STEPHEN HAWKINS,AP Sports Writer
FORT WORTH, Texas (AP) — The Indianapolis 500 trophy is destined for the bedroom of Tony Kanaan’s 6-year-old son in Brazil.
“Once you promise something for a kid … he won’t forget,” Kanaan said Tuesday.
What young Leo doesn’t realize is that the Indy 500 winner gets a much smaller replica of the Borg-Warner Trophy than the permanent one at Indianapolis.
“I promised him that I was going to get him a nice trophy,” Kanaan said. “He truly thinks I’m bringing the big Borg-Warner home. … The excuse I have, because it is in Brazil, dad has to shrink the trophy to fit in a bag.”
Since finally winning at Indianapolis for the first time in 12 tries Sunday, Kanaan has spoken often about his son, who last week in one of their daily chats said he had no memory of ever seeing his father win a race. Kanaan didn’t have an IndyCar victory in nearly three years before the Brickyard.
“He has no idea of how big this race is,” Kanaan said, reflecting on their talk after winning. “The conversation goes from ‘Yeah, dad won the race, cool,’ then he switches right away, ‘I was watching this cartoon.’ … It’s been a normal conversation, I would say.”
The boy moved to Brazil with his mother after his parents divorced in 2009.
Leo will spent July with his father, when he will get to be at the track for a couple of events, and there was also the race in Brazil he got to attend earlier this month. When the young boy gets to spend extended time in November and December with Kanaan, who lives in South Florida, the IndyCar season will be over.
Kanaan made the traditional stop for Indy 500 champions in Texas, where he had lunch with 200 invited Texas Motor Speedway season ticket holders and sponsors on the patio of a well-known Mexican restaurant where he was serenaded by a mariachi band.
When addressing the Texas crowd, Kanaan said it might be hard to keep his son from racing, but that he wasn’t sure if he wanted him to be a driver. Kanaan later clarified what he meant.
“I follow Marco’s career extremely close,” Kanaan said, referring to the young Andretti that used to be his teammate. “I don’t want my son, especially who I am, to have that weight on his back. But who am I to choose what he wants to be. …I just said that because I think he will have so much pressure because of who his dad said, I don’t know if I wanted to that for him. But if he wants that for himself.”
Texas used to be the next race after Indianapolis, but the IndyCar Series will be in Detroit for its first doubleheader this weekend before going to the high-banked 1½-mile quadoval June 8. There are more media obligations for Kanaan in New York on Wednesday before heading to Detroit.
Kanaan said his son love soccer and like so many young Brazilian boys, he’s also go-karting already.
“I think right now he’s go-karting because you see what dad does and what the other kids do,” Kanaan said. “He’s very into sports, but he’s 6. It’s too early to think that’s what he’s going to be when he grows up. I will support him in any way I can in anything he wants to do.”
Father and son usually get to physically visit at least once a month, whether Kanaan travels to Brazil or the young boy comes to the United States. Maybe next year, Leo will get to join his father in Indianapolis.
“I hope I can do a few more years here,” Kanaan said. “This year, he was so close to coming, but at the end, he had to go to school. Hopefully, maybe now that I won, maybe next year he’s going to come and see me.”
Kanaan said it is hard being so far away from each other, but that they are constant communication through video chats and value their time together.
“It is a far relationship, but we’re extremely close,” Kanaan said. “The quality time that we spend when we are together, it’s probably even greater than when I was home every day.”