Many corporate sponsors help our Olympic team members train and perform with contributions and fund-raising activities, but the world of motorsports has a special edge in their beneficial efforts for the past decade.
Longtime NASCAR star Geoff Bodine brought race car technology to the bobsled team, NASCAR and NHRA drivers donated their time to raise funds, and motorsports businesses like Whelen Engineering, Lucas Oil, and JEGS Performance budgeted advertising.
Geoff Bodine is a mostly retired NASCAR driver with more than memories and trophies. The racing family of Bodines, Geoff, Brett, and Todd are from upstate New York and perhaps it was his familiarity with snow and fast cars that caused him to look to the U.S. Bobsled team with a helpful eye. He pondered the technology of old, used sleds from European teams after watching U.S. teams struggle in them.
In 1992 he conceived the Bo-Dyn Bobsled Project and contracted race car designer Bob Cuneo of Chassis Dynamics in Oxford, Conn., to create "Made-in-America" bobsleds for U.S. men’s and women’s teams. Since switching to Bo-Dyn sleds, U.S. athletes have excelled, winning multiple Olympic and World Cup medals in both two-man and four-man competition. During the recent Winter Olympics in British Columbia, the men’s team raced for the gold.
USA-1 driver Steve Holcomb, pushers Justin Olsen and Steve Mesler, and brakeman Curt Tomasevicz took the tallest stage to receive their gold medals.
Just like NASCAR and NHRA in the U.S.A., the team needed sponsors to compete. The Geoff Bodine Bobsled Challenge presented by Whelen Engineering and sponsored by Lucas Oil Products and JEGS Mail Order helps raise funds through a charity event held every January in Lake Placid, N.Y.
The bobsled race is comprised of motorsports drivers, this year: NASCAR’s Joey Logano, Boris Said, Todd Bodine and NHRA’s Jeg Coughlin Jr., Morgan Lucas, Shawn Langdon, and Melanie Troxel competing for bragging rights and a medal too. It may be the only fast thing they do without engines.
NASCAR drivers could not accept the offer to be a guest of the U.S. team as they had a race to run in Las Vegas, but NHRA drivers, Lucas, Coughlin, Langdon, and Troxel had an off week and joined NASCAR sponsor Phil Kurrs with Whelen Industries for the Olympic competition.
"Our athletes deserve all the praise," said Coughlin, a five-time world champion in his JEGS.com Chevrolet Cobalt. "They got it done and it was a real thrill to watch the events and see how happy the guys were. A tip of the hat to Erin Pac for her two-man bronze the other night as well.
"Geoff Bodine should be very proud of what he's done for USA Bobsledding. More than a decade ago, he watched our U.S. team struggle with castoff sleds from the Europeans and he decided to step in and make a difference. By bringing racing technology to sled building, he's elevated the entire sport to a level many thought they'd never achieve. It's so awesome to see his dream realized.
"We knew the guys had a shot at making history," said Morgan Lucas, driver of the GEICO Powersports/Lucas Oil dragster. "They were among the favorites, but racing, whether it's on a bobsled course or the drag strip, can be unpredictable. No matter what the expectations are, you still have to go out and make it happen and they did.”
For the race car drivers it will be a season back to the hot track and for the Bodine project it’s probably back to the data banks and drawing boards. Olympics team members will no doubt continue to train as all great athletes do.
This fast bobsled gold from the 2010 Olympic Winter Games is in U.S. hands.