LAKE PLACID, N.Y. - The idea that Americans could dominate the Olympic sport of bobsledding with anything but European-made sleds was a radical concept. Then along came NASCAR great Geoff Bodine, who saw the disappointing United States results in the 1992 Winter Games in Albertville, France.
Bodine said, “We’re Americans. We have technology. We can do better than this.” The winner of the 1986 Daytona 500 then came to team headquarters in Lake Placid, N.Y. after those Winter Games in the French Alps, where he jumped into a bobsled for the first time; the experience became the genesis of an elite sled program that, with the help of the United States Olympic Committee, brought the U.S. great success at the Olympics, World Championships and World Cup events.
These achievements occurred because Bodine’s vision included Bob Cuneo of Connecticut based Chassis Dynamics. Historically, Bodine and Cuneo collaborated on the construction of auto racing chassis in the late 1970s. Building Bo-Dyn bobsleds became a natural extension of that partnership.
Now comes author Mike Brewster, who has chronicled the Bo-Dyn Project’s body of work in the new book, The Night Train.
“As the founder of the project to build American made bobsleds for our American athletes, we’re really excited about this book project that documents what we did to win the 2010 Olympic gold medal in Vancouver,” added Bodine. “This gives all of the people recognition for what they did. So were really proud to produce this book. Hopefully, it’s just the beginning of telling people about our love of country and love of flag. The book and project exemplify how this group of people felt about that.”
Matching the new sled technology was a stable of talented athletes. Its’ leader was Steve Holcomb, the greatest driver in U.S. bobsled history. His horsepower came in the form of a world class trio of push athletes that included Steve Mesler, Justin Olsen and brakeman Curt Tomasevicz.
This was a four-pronged force that Germany, Switzerland, Russia, Latvia, Canada, Italy and the rest couldn’t track down, and culminated at the 2010 Vancouver Winter Games, with the first United States men’s gold medal in 62 years. A season earlier, Holcomb and crew propelled the same Night Train sled to the USA’s first World Championship in 50 years.
“It was always our goal to document the 18-year success of Geoff’s Made-in-America effort to bring U.S. bobsledders to the podium,” said Phil Kurze, President of the Bo-Dyn Bobsled Project, Inc. “This story shows the potential we have in this country with entrepreneurship, hard work and determination.”
Now, nearly eight years removed from that memorable Sunday at the Whistler Sliding Centre, comes Brewster’s The Night Train, taken from that famous four-man bobsled. It was named by Cuneo on the back of a bar room napkin after Holcomb’s team tested it in the fall of 2008. The U.S. pilot was adamant about putting it in competition immediately. The story is as enduring as the legacy of USA Bobsled, whose list of seven Olympic medals incorporating Bo-Dyn technology began in 2002.
Success culminated with four rides at Whistler that led the Night Train team to the top of the 2010 Olympic podium on the most dangerous and daunting track in the history of the Games.
In The Night Train, Brewster, whose credits include Stolen Glory, the story of the 1972 U.S. Olympic basketball team, recounts the dreams of Bodine and his Bo-Dyn team to beat the Europeans at their own game with made-in-America know-how. This included the knowledge and input of the late bobsled driver, Holcomb, who overcame near blindness to see his team to victory; and culminates with the Bo-Dyn builders and support system that brought home the elusive gold medal.
"What I loved about this story was that while it appears to be about bobsledding, it's really about reinvigorating America,” stated Brewster. “Here was a sport that had become almost foreign to us, with technologies that other countries had mastered to a point that we had to beg and borrow from them just to participate. Then, under the Bo-Dyn Project, we sort of woke up and used our savvy, know-how and competitiveness to take Olympic gold through the Night Train. I think readers will enjoy both the sports angle, but also the patriotic take of this book."
Hardcopies and paperback versions of The Night Train, complete with back stories and new revelations, can be ordered online at www.bodynbobsled.com. The book is also available on all e-book outlets.