Bodine brings his engineering expertise and NASCAR technology knowledge to Olympics
Editor's note: Photo of Steven Holcomb via NBC Olympics/USOC
Prior to the 2010 Winter Olympic Games in Vancouver, the Bo-Dyn Bobsled Project wanted to create a sled that would not only change history, but put the USA four-man team back on the map, and it worked, ultimately ending a 62-year gold medal drought in the U.S. Olympic four-man bobsled competition.
Co-owner of the Bo-Dyn Bobsled Company, Geoff Bodine, a former NASCAR Sprint Cup Series driver and Daytona 500 champion was determined to bring the engineering expertise that is used on race cars to the Olympic teams.
Since the U.S. Bobsled team has been using the Bo-Dyn sleds they have won three medals: Two in the 2002 Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City, Utah and one during the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver when Steven Holcomb piloted a Bo-Dyn Bobsled named "Night Train" to gold.
"The sled we brought to Vancouver excelled aerodynamically thanks to our partnership with Exa Corporation, Bodine said. "As we were optimized aerodynamically for the straightaways we focused our resources on improved handling in the curves with steering and runner changes for this season. We have every confidence that this new sled, the Night Train2, has the ability to medal again."
This year, Holcomb will be piloting "Night Train2" in the Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia. The sled has already won gold medals in the first three 2013-2014 FIBT World Cup races held in Calgary, Park City and Lake Placid.
“Between Geoff Bodine building my sleds and Bobby Rahal (former Indy 500 winner who ran the No. 21 car for the Wood Brothers at Riverside in 1984 for his lone NASCAR premier series start) helping redesign some parts in our new BMW sled, it’s hard not to be a car racing fan.”
Two-time Olympic hurdler and two-time World Indoor Champion Lolo Jones was named to the U.S. women's bobsled team as was Lauryn Williams, a three-time Olympic sprinter and 2012 100-meter relay Olympic gold medalist. Both Jones and Williams were chosen as push athletes for the women's team.
Bodine's bobsled interest was sparked while watching the 1992 Winter Olympics when the U.S. Bobsled team was having a tough time during competition. Bodine learned that the bobsleds being used were not built domestically, but imported. He felt that he could help the U.S. team with the technology derived from his racing experiences, as well as his engineering background.
From 2006-2010, a charity run was held in Lake Placid, N.Y. with the U.S. bobsled team and NASCAR drivers to raise money for the sled project. Three-time NASCAR Sprint Cup Series champion Tony Stewart has even participated in the event.
The first competitions of the Olympic Games on NBC start Feb. 6 and run through Feb. 23. The men's four-man bodsled compeition is one of the last events of the games, with the competition taking place on Feb. 22-23. The men's two-man bobseld competition will be held on Feb. 16-17 and the women's bobsled competition will be held on Feb. 18-19. The Paralympics are two weeks later in Sochi and go from March 7-16.