John Morgan has lived and breathed bobsledding as a driver,
broadcaster and coach. But he says he's never seen anything like
"I've been promoting the sport all my life, and during a
pre-Olympic year you always get some stuff," Morgan said. "But
this is amazing. Our phones have been ringing off the hook."
Apparently, the prospect of watching Tony Stewart or Jeff Gordon
or Jimmie Johnson race a bobsled down the Lake Placid-area track on
Mount Van Hoevenberg has piqued the interest of auto racing fans
who have heard about Geoffrey Bodine's latest effort to help the
U.S. bobsled program.
As part of a fund-raiser, Bodine wants to lure 10 NASCAR drivers
to pay $50,000 apiece to drive the track. Each would race a two-man
training sled painted in his team's colors and with his sponsor's
logos emblazoned on the cowling, and a race-day crew member would
serve as brakeman.
"It's to raise awareness and hopefully get more people to watch
and support the Olympics," Bodine said. "It's to race so we can
keep the project going."
The event is scheduled for Jan. 5-9. After the competition,
Bodine's Bobsled Fantasy Camp will give NASCAR fans a chance to
drive the same sleds.
"Every single guy I've talked to said he'd love to do it,"
said Bodine, who since 1992 has helped raise money through the
Bo-Dyn Bobsled Project to develop American-made bobsleds for the
U.S. team. "Tony's ready. He wants to do it. Jeff Burton wants to
be involved, Jeff Gordon, Jimmie Johnson. They all want to do this
if the time allows them.
"It's hard to schedule things. They're busy people. We picked
the first weekend of the new year because we thought that would be
a down time before testing gets real strong at Daytona."
So far, road race ace Boris Said is the only driver committed,
probably because he has a real connection to the sport. His father
was an Olympic bobsled driver at the 1972 Games in Sapporo, Japan.
"I used to ride sleds in Lake Placid, and it is the fastest and
most exciting racing experience I have ever had without a motor,"
Bodine, who has driven sporadically since a bad crash in a truck
race at Daytona five years ago, hopes to have the logistics worked
out by the time NASCAR races at Watkins Glen in two weeks.
"With another track being built for the 2010 Winter Olympic
Games in Vancouver, Canada, I need to take the project to the next
level," said Bodine, who counts the 1986 Daytona 500 among his 18
"Like NASCAR, the sport is about racing, rules and changes in
technology, which mandates research and development and costs
money. I need some other NASCAR people to assist me with the
project. The best way is to get them into a bobsled environment and
give them a feel for the sport. They will not be disappointed."