Former IndyCar engineer chases bobsled gold

David Cripps
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A one-time Indianapolis 500 engineer traded the oval for the speed and turns of a bobsled run.

In bobsledding, thousandths of a second can mean the difference between gold and silver. It's the same in IndyCar racing.

"Absolutely crazy. To think, you know, one year you're at the Indy 500 and here we are in Sochi running bobsleds, crazy," said David Cripps. "Absolutely having a blast. Love every minute of it."

Cripps spent decades making IndyCars go fast. Now, he's making bobsleds quicker as the new chief engineer for Team USA bobsledding.

"We basically left the States December 27, worked everyday since then. We're either in Germany racing, Switzerland racing, Austria racing, back to Germany, here at the Olympics. It's actually very inspiring the level of effort these people put in," Cripps said.

The bobsled pushers are the horsepower and the rest is up to handling and gravity. It's all about hitting the apex of the turns just right.

"It's all about carrying that momentum and that speed through Turn 1 at Indianapolis. If you don't do that in Turn 1, it's not going to be a big lap. Exactly the same thing here. Exactly the same thing," Cripps said.

The bobsledders love the fresh approach to going fast from a guy who knows all about finding speed.

"David's overall intelligence, he understands physics, he understands pressures, he understands everything. He will go on track walks with us and he just stares at the curve, going, 'Yeah, right here is where you need to be'," said bobsledder Cory Butner. "He is so smart and we're very fortunate to have him."

Cripps has several chances to win a gold medal this week. But how does he compare that to chasing the Borg-Warner Trophy at Indianapolis?

"Both super thrilling. Having knocked on the door so many times at Indy, that's still something that's not finished and we certainly intend on doing that, but winning a gold here would be absolutely fantastic, too. It would be really, really something special," Cripps said.