Top Fuel drivers take ride of their life on Olympic bobsled course

The following is an excerpt from an article published at ihra.com:

When you are used to four-second, 320 mile-per-hour strolls down the quarter-mile you wouldn’t think there would be much left out there that would impress a professional nitro racer.

But for Top Fuel drivers Bobby Lagana Jr. and Bruce Litton, a side trip over to the Utah Olympic Park and an intense trip down the bobsled course on Thursday prior to the start of the Salt Lake Nitro Jam left both drivers with a newfound respect for the athletes of the Olympic Winter Games.

“It was pretty awesome. It gives you a completely different view of what other people do to excel at their sport,” said 2007 IHRA Top Fuel champion Litton. “There is a lot of work that goes into being good at these sports just like there is a lot of work that goes into what we do. Not only the bobsled, but the ski jumps and all the other sports, it is neat to see how hard these people work to hone their talents.”

Litton and Lagana arrived at the Olympic Park Thursday afternoon to the fanfare of several hundred fans that came out to watch the drivers try their hand at Olympic gold. After a quick interview with the local media the pair of drivers, in addition the part-time Top Fuel driver Dom Lagana, received a quick lesson in bobsled racing and headed out to the track for an overview of the course.

From the official Olympic bobsled start the trio of Top Fuel drivers strapped into their bobsled on wheels and received a push start from the track crew. While the drivers are used to reaching speeds in excess of 100 mph in less than a second, this start produced a slow roll into the first turn. But once the sled began to pick up speed the drivers were in for a windy trip down the mountain that included 15 turns, g-forces rivaling a typical Top Fuel run and speeds approaching 70 mph.

“It was impressive. I really don’t know how to translate this to racing, perhaps severe tire shake? All I know is that I had a headache for the rest of the day,” Lagana said. “I don’t know how the heck these guys do it. It was intense.”

While the drivers were safely strapped in at the start and were guided by a professional bobsled pilot, the athletes making up the real sport have the added task of pushing the sleigh and squeezing into the four-man cockpit before making the run, a task that left Lagana wondering just how they do it.

“I don’t know how these guys get in that bobsled running as fast as they are. The start is the critical part and that is a very tight fit, not to mention they are doing it while running on ice,” Lagana said. “It is a little intimidating. You think you are going to flip upside down on that thing, but these guys had it handled. I certainly enjoyed it.”

Litton echoed the thoughts of his friend and rival.

“I knew it was going to have g forces, but I was a little surprised at just how much force there actually is in the neck and going side to side,” Litton added. “At one time the pressure would be on your left and the next time it is on your right so it is really something that is hard to prepare for.”

Click here to read the entire article.

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