Well, whip is probably a gross exaggeration, but it’s true that the NHRA’s Morgan Lucas was the winner of the annual Geoff Bodine Bobsled Challenge.
The event, one of the coolest charity raising races that happens in the off season, pits stars from the NHRA and NASCAR against one another racing bobsleds down the course at an Olympic training facility. This year’s venue was Mount Van Hoevenberg at Lake Placid, New York.
We’re not sure if the NHRA guys have ever won one of these things before, but if they have it’s not been for some time. The NASCAR guys have dominated the winners’ circle for years.
As the racers worked their was through eliminations, Bob Vandergriff was the first to experience the worst nightmare of any bobsled racer, a flip. Vandergridff put his sled on its side during a high-speed portion on the front half of the course and was basically forced to ride out the rest of the track on his side. His comment made us wince, “We were letting it all hang out and just went over the edge,” Vandergriff said. “We’ve been slow all weekend and I just decided to go for it that run because I felt like we had nothing to lose. I’m glad I have a football player’s neck because I landed on my head when we went over and it was a pretty good hit. I didn’t manage to get small enough in there until about the fourth or fifth hit. I’m sure I’ll be feeling this later.”
In the final it was Morgan Lucas and Todd Bodine from NASCAR side. Bodine had been the faster racer by a fairly substantial margin through the majority of the competition, but on his final lap for the gold, he too went turtle and opened the door for Lucas to take the win.
“I got into that (Turn 18) corner late and that’s trouble,” Bodine said. “You’re at the bottom of the hill there and carrying the most speed. Those competition sleds are way faster than the other ones we were driving and I wasn’t ready for it. Hey, that’s racing. Morgan said he didn’t like winning that way but I told him it’s no different than a guy blowing up or smoking his tires in drag racing. It’s just the way it happened. Good for him and my congratulations to the NHRA team. They’re all great guys.”
Note something in Bodine’s comment. He mentioned “competition sleds.” Up until the final, the guys were racing trainer models that are generally older and heavier and don’t have all the high-zoot technology that go into the actual racers used by Olympians. For the final, Team USA decided that it would be good for the last two men to strap into (figuratively) “real” racers. That proved to be Bodine’s undoing. The real racing sleds were far faster than the trainers.
Lucas was very happy with his win, “We finally got the win light for the NHRA,” Lucas said. “It took us straight-liners a few years but we got it done and I feel great. The Team USA guys decided to let us drive the real bobsleds in the final round and they are completely different than the ones we’ve been driving. It was like going from a Yugo to a Ferrari; a totally different feeling of speed. I’m really lucky I didn’t crash down there at the bottom because I basically did the same thing Todd did. The only difference was my sled came down on the runners and his went over.”
Like we said, of all the promotional races that happen, this one is cooler than most. We’ll see if the drag masters can hold off the Stock Car guys again next year. Maybe they’ll be a media race, although it would suck to watch Freiburger try to launch me and Chad’s fat asses in flip-flops on ice.