May 20, 2014, 1:00 PM EDT
You might remember back in February during this year’s Sochi Winter Olympics that David Cripps, veteran Verizon IndyCar Series engineer, went to work for the U.S. Men’s National Bobsled team.
Cripps is now working with Buddy Lazier and Lazier Partners Racing this month, as engineer of that car. And he’s bringing two of his bobsled teammates with him.
Abe Morlu, from Boone, North Carolina, and Dallas Robinson, from Georgetown, Kentucky, join the LPR effort this month. Robinson competed in the Sochi Winter Olympics in both 2-Man and 4-Man bobsled competition. Morlu has competed in several world championship bobsled events. As a world-class sprinter, Morlu has also competed in two Summer Olympic games for Liberia, where he was born.
During the race, both will be over-the-wall crew members during the race on the No. 91 University of Iowa Stephen A. Wynn Institute for Vision Research Chevrolet. Morlu will change the right-rear tire and Robinson will refuel the car.
Additionally, both took two-seater rides with Mario Andretti on Monday, to gauge and compare the experience between being in a bobsled and in a car.
“That two-seater ride was awesome,” Morlu said, via IndyCar PR. “I got to take it with Mario Andretti too. You can’t ask for anything better. It was great. Those cars have so much downforce and so much grip. I was trying to check out the line Mario was driving. I play it on a lot of simulators and after getting to see the line from Mario I want to play the game again so I can break my record.”
That’s only the start for Morlu, as he plans to tackle one of racing’s most challenging feats next year.
“I am going to race Pikes Peak next year on a motorcycle – the race to the top,” he said. “So, this experience really got me ready for it. I was second guessing it, but going that fast in a car with Mario, I thought, ‘Yeah, I’m ready to do this.’”
Added Robinson, “The two-seater with Andretti was wild. I am very used to feeling vertical g’s pushing me down. In a bobsled you get five vertical g’s. But the lateral G’s in an IndyCar are something else. Vertical g’s push you down, with lateral g’s you are coming out through the side. You feel as though the back of the car, at any second, is going to come out. It’s amazing how tight they can handle. It was an amazing experience.
“I kept trying to lift my head up to look over Mario. That worked until we hit about 180 (mph) I was thinking I needed to put my head down. I thought, at any second, the back was going to come out. I’m going to be looking at Mario from the side at some point. It was pretty amazing.”
Lazier, the 1996 Indianapolis 500 winner, is the oldest driver in this year’s field at age 46 and starts 33rd. But that sells short the team’s effort – it’s one of only two single-car entries in the race, and the lone Indianapolis-only team in the field. Lazier qualified at more than 227 mph.