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December 23, 2013

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New Night Train bobsled Night Train 2®, built by Bo-Dyn Project, wins first 3 World Cup race
On the Road to Sochi Steve Holcomb wins 3 World Cups in Night Train 2®; Nick Cunningham takes over 2010 gold medal Night Train® sled
Photo credit: Bo-Dyn Bobsled Project, Inc. / Lou Reuter (Lake Placid, Dec. 15, 2013)

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CHESTER, Conn. – United States bobsled driver Steve Holcomb could not have scripted a better start to the Olympic season. In seven World Cup starts, three of them in the new Bo-Dyn built Night Train 2® four man craft, the defending Olympic four man champion has won them all.

"If you told me that I would have won everything a month ago, I would have thought you were crazy," Holcomb told Amanda Bird of the United States Bobsled and Skeleton Federation. "It is surreal and a little overwhelming. We have to keep our momentum going. At this point, it is real easy to get complacent. The second we ease up the rest of the field will jump up and stop us. It is only going to get harder and harder the rest of the season."
 
"This has been a great start to the season in the Night Train 2®,” said Phil Kurze, President of the Bo-Dyn Bobsled Project, Inc., and Vice President of Whelen Engineering, the primary sponsor of the Bo-Dyn Project. “We all know the other nations are gunning for Team USA and all of our men and women need to keep the pressure on.
 
“It’s is very exciting for the Bo-Dyn team to have this kind of success immediately with the new sled,” added Kurze. “Our Whelen employees also have a stake in this initiative as some of the parts in the Night Train 2® bobsled were made by our employees in our machine shop in New Hampshire."
 
Recently, the Bo-Dyn Bobsled Project added Dassault Systèmes and its SolidWorks brand as another major sponsor. The Waltham, Mass. firm provided computer aided designs using three-dimensional software that was incorporated in the development of the Night Train 2®.
 
Holcomb’s four two-man victories have occurred in BMW sleds, also brand new this winter. In a show of partnership and teamwork, the “pit crews” of both manufacturers are working together to make the operation of these different sleds more seamless.
 
The Bo-Dyn Project, responsible for six Olympic medals since 1992 in men’s and women’s bobsledding, did not rest after the 2010 gold medal in the original Night Train®.
 
It was clear on that final weekend in February 2010 that the driver, his push crew and the Night Train® sled were the fastest package on Whistler Mountain. But immediately, the Bo-Dyn Project, Inc., led by NASCAR great Geoff Bodine and designer Bob Cuneo of Chassis Dynamics in Oxford, Conn., were committed to creating something faster.

“We knew after winning at Whistler that our competition was not going to take this lying down,” said Bodine, winner of the 1986 Daytona 500. He awarded the medals at the recent Lake Placid World Cup race. “Especially with the Winter Olympics in Russia, we are aware, from past experience, that they will do whatever is necessary, get all the track time they want and spend whatever is needed to win hardware on their home track. And then there’s Germany, Canada, Switzerland and others. Just like in auto racing, we needed to move forward and faster.”

They have done just that. When the new Bo-Dyn Night Train 2® debuted last March in Lake Placid, Holcomb’s training run times were close to the track record right out of the box. From there, the sled went back to the shop in North Carolina, where Cuneo’s team of Cheech Garde and Hans deBot tweaked the sled over the summer.

The involvement of deBot, President and CEO of deBotech, Inc. which specializes in the use of carbon fiber material, is particularly noteworthy as he has created a lighter Night Train 2®. This has dropped the body weight in half, while allowing the sled’s center of gravity to be relocated more advantageously.

deBot is also working similarly with the new BMW sleds as well as the pods in use by USA skeleton athletes. It may be no coincidence that U.S. skeleton racer Noelle Pikus-Pace has won all World Cups to date save one. That was a bronze medal in a shortened World Cup event.

In August, Holcomb and his sled mates Curt Tomasevicz, Steve Langton, Justin Olsen and Chris Fogt traveled south to the A2 Wind Tunnel to eliminate further drag, and perfect their positions.

The Night Train 2® returned to Lake Placid for October training, but with unseasonably warm weather, the new four man sled got minimal time on Mount Van Hoevenberg. Fortunately, the World Cup season did not start until the end of November, giving the team some extra preparatory time with improving weather. When the Night Train 2® hit the ice on opening weekend in Calgary, it dominated the field en route to a gold medal.

Ensuing weekends in Park City, Utah and Lake Placid produced identical results. The seven-for-seven start is unmatched in the modern era of World Cup bobsled racing.

But what about the original Night Train® bobsled? Not to worry, as Nick Cunningham has been more than happy to take hold of the D-rings in a machine of such high pedigree, and will bring the Night Train® to Sochi for an Olympic encore.