LAKE PLACID Representatives of the Bo-Dyn Bobsled Project and the New York Olympic Regional Development Authority (ORDA) in Lake Placid announced Monday that the third annual Geoff Bodine Bobsled Challenge, presented by Whelen Engineering, will return to the two-time Winter Olympic village Jan. 3-5, 2008 at the Olympic Sports Complex.
The event will feature NASCAR, NHRA, and celebrity drivers piloting specially-made bobsleds down Lake Placids icy chute in fun races geared to raise money for the Bo-Dyn Bobsled Project. The previous races were televised on ESPN2 in 2006 and SPEED in 2007.
This initiative, started in 1992 by NASCAR driver Geoff Bodine, has built American-made bobsleds for United States athletes competing in the World Cup, World Championships and Olympic Winter Games.
The concept paid dividends with gold, silver and bronze medals in the 2002 Salt Lake City Winter Games, and scored again with silver in Torino, the first time that the USA Bobsled Team won Olympic medals since 1956. Currently, a new sled design is being created by Bodine and sled builder Bob Cuneo of Chassis Dynamics in Connecticut. It will be tested during national and international competitions leading up to the next Olympic Winter Games in Vancouver in 2010.
Current U.S. bobsled athletes Steve Holcomb and Shauna Rohbock have benefited immensely from this program. Holcomb is the 2007 two-man bobsled and combined bobsled World Cup Champion and finished second overall for the four-man bobsled World Cup. Rohbock, the 2006 Olympic silver medalist, finished the 2007 World Cup season in second place.
This event has provided great exposure for us into the NASCAR world, stated Bodine. With the NASCAR guys driving the sleds, it has really enhanced what we are trying to do. The participants have become great ambassadors for us. Many drivers talk to us about the Bo-Dyn Bobsled Project and about supporting the mission of generating money for more research and development.
At last years Bodine event, I was asked what this event means to us, said Cuneo, designer of the Bodine sleds. This gives us money for R and D, and I felt that it would pay dividends. It most certainly did. The Bodine event has been the difference. We had no budget and were actually slipping behind. Then along came this event. Year one put us on solid footing and year two enabled us to start moving ahead.
But we still need more help because what we did last year winning 17 World Cup medals has now awoken the sleeping dogthe German bobsled team, continued Cuneo. They will want to make us pay for that. Well now need more money and have to work harder because they have virtually unlimited funding. This is a friendly, yet very serious competition.
But the real question here in Lake Placid will be: who can beat Boris Said? I cant explain why Ive dominated the races, said Said, son of Olympic bobsledder Bob Said. Maybe its in my genes due to my father, or maybe its that Im a road racer used to going left and right. But the main thing, I think, is I have a passion for it.
The NASCAR road expert swept the event last year winning both races and took a gold medal in the inaugural event as well. The only other driver to win a Bodine Bobsled Challenge race is Kevin Lepage of Shelburne, Vt., as he won the second race in 2006.
Im excited. Im a bobsled fanatic. I cant wait to get back on the ice, continued Said. These athletes are so underrated. Corporate America doesnt appreciate them. They are invisible to the world. As athletes, they are at the same level as Michael Jordan and Tiger Woods. It seems that they only get attention at the Olympics. I feel proud to donate my time and help these athletes. Its a great cause.
When the team was training over the summer at the Olympic Training Center in San Diego, Said invited them to his go-cart track. About 15-20 bobsled and skeleton racers came and raced in (his) my world.
Whelen Engineering has officially entered the first sled in the 2008 competition.
The drivers will negotiate the demanding Lake Placid course which emphasizes the skills of the driver as sleds serpentine their way down Mount Van Hoevenberg, which can be compared to an auto racing road course.
Fan packages, interactive offerings and event merchandise will be announced at a later date. The television shows of the 2006 and 2007 Bodine events are now available for purchase on DVD at www.bodynbobsled.com .