Bodine's Bobsled Challenge heading to Olympic Park

Updated: March 27, 2007, 7:13 PM ET
Associated Press

One Bobsled Challenge is not enough for Geoff Bodine.

The former NASCAR star, who last year persuaded 10 race car drivers to get behind the cowls of specially made bobsleds and race to raise money for the U.S. bobsled team, is taking his project to Utah Olympic Park.

"We're going to have two," Bodine said Tuesday from Park City, Utah. "They saw our event and asked us to come out. This is going to be a good venue."

The new event will be staged in December after a World Cup event at the Park City track.

"This is a smart way for them to bring in some money to help do what needs to be done," said Terry Kent, director of the United States Bobsled and Skeleton Federation.

"This is a team now, through and through. They are walking step-in-step with Geoff Bodine and his project. It's a whole different dynamic, and that's why I think they're winning," Kent said.

The Geoff Bodine Bobsled Challenge, which relies on Whelen Engineering for substantial sponsorship, made its debut in Lake Placid in January 2006 and was staged again the first weekend of this year.

Boris Said, a road-racing expert whose father competed on two U.S. Olympic bobsled teams, has won three of the four races. He was in Park City on Tuesday to test a bobsled that was modified for the new event.

"It's the first time we've tested here and the first time we've driven at this time of year," Bodine said. "The learning curve is just beginning."

Drivers who have raced on the difficult Lake Placid track drove a shortened course on the 20-turn chute and recorded speeds of just over 50 miles per hour. Said drove the entire track at Utah Olympic Park and was clocked around 73 mph, according to John Morgan, a TV commentator for the sport and co-organizer of the Bobsled Challenge.

"We want to go faster," Morgan said.

Because of hectic schedules, Bodine so far has been unable to attract a current Nextel Cup star, such as Tony Stewart or Jeff Gordon, to either of the first two runnings of his fundraiser, which will return to Lake Placid the first weekend in January.

Still, the races so far have been successful at raising money for increased research and development for the U.S. bobsled team, which excelled in the 2006-07 World Cup season. Steve Holcomb, a native of Park City, won the two-man and overall titles, and Shauna Rohbock, of Orem, Utah, finished second to German women's champion Sandra Kiriasis.

That was a nice turnaround from the dissension-plagued team that competed at the Turin Winter Olympics and captured only one medal. Rohbock and brakewoman Valerie Fleming won silver.

"The whole project had kind of hit a wall," Kent said. "Geoff has got it back on its feet."

Over the past 15 years, Bodine has raised more than $1 million to help build American-made bobsleds through his Bo-Dyn Bobsled Project.

Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press