With a Bobsledding Medal, The USA Has NASCAR To Thank

Jesse L. Medford@JesseMedfordContributor IFebruary 10, 2010

ST MORITZ, SWITZERLAND - JANUARY 17:  USA 3 driven by Mike Kohn in action during the four man FIBT Bobsliegh World Cup round 7 race at the Olympia Bobrun on January 17, 2010 in St Moritz, Switzerland.  (Photo by Richard Heathcote/Getty Images)
Richard Heathcote/Getty Images

“We’re expecting medals this year, so it won’t be a big upset,” said Phil Kurze, President of non-profit Bo-Dyn Bobsled Project, Inc.

According to Kurze, 2009 was the first time the USA team won the World Championships in 50 years. “But if we win gold (in the Olympics), then that’s a very big deal.”

In 1992, NASCAR driver Geoff Bodine went to Lake Placid and got a ride in a bobsled. It was there that he learned the American Olympians had to buy their own equipment.

“They were buying sleds from their competition and they were getting second-rate equipment," said Bodine.

“Fortunately, racing NASCAR, I could put my money where my mouth was,” he said. “I told them I was going to build some bobsleds, and here we are—19 years later, and we’ve got some of the best in the world,” Bodine said of the USA competing in the Vancouver Olympics.

Bo-Dyn made their Olympic debut at the 1994 Lillehammer Games.

2010 Olympian bobsled pilot Bree Schaaf says that before qualifying for the U.S. team, she rented sleds for $500 to $900 a week. A Bo-Dyn sled can cost $50,000.

Bodine was able to use his NASCAR experience in conceptualizing and producing the sleds to make them faster.

“There’s absolutely nothing that applies specifically from a NASCAR to a bobsled, because they have totally different situations,” designer Bob Cuneo said. “However, the way you approach solving a problem is exactly the same. The approach is the same, the technology is the same, but the solutions you would use in a race car have no application to a bobsled.”

“Just the way we look at things and design things and think about things, we took the same approach to these bobsleds that we do with NASCAR,” Bodine said.

Bo-Dyn recently announced it will move from Oxford, CT to Concord, NC, the heart of NASCAR country, after the Olympics.

“Much of the business is connected to NASCAR,” Bo-Dyn spokesman Sandy Caligorie said. “It’s really the best move all the way around.”

Geoff isn’t the only Bodine involved in bobsleds. NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Driver Todd Bodine, is a former winner of the Geoff Bodine Bobsled Challenge. Last month’s fifth annual event was won by Joe Gibbs Racing's Joey Logano, reigning NASCAR Sprint Cup Rookie of the Year. The Lake Placid, NY event raises money for the USA Bobsled Team.

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