BALTIMORE, Md. – Today the U.S. Bobsled & Skeleton Federation (USBSF) announced the appointment of Bobby Rahal as chairman of the recently launched USA Bobsled & Skeleton Foundation (USABSF) during a press conference at the Baltimore Grand Prix.
USBSF CEO Darrin Steele initiated the foundation more than two years ago, and has focused on identifying a chairman to lead the USABSF before the official launch.
“It took more time than we wanted to start this program because we insisted on waiting for the right person to lead it,” Steele said. “Bobby Rahal was definitely worth the wait.”
In addition to making a personal contribution to the USABSF, Rahal is charged with actively identifying additional foundation prospects to assist with fundraising and development of the sport on a national level.
“I’m obviously thrilled to be asked to be the chairman of the USA Bobsled and Skeleton Foundation,” Rahal said. “I have always been a great fan of Olympic sport and have loved watching American athletes compete against the best the world has to offer. I am committed to doing everything I can do to ensure that the USA Bobsled and Skeleton team continues their record of success, having won Olympic medals in the last three Winter Olympic Games.”
Rahal was one of open wheel racing’s most consistent drivers during his 18-year career. He notched three CART championships, including a win at the 1986 Indy 500, along with wins at the 1981 24 Hours of Daytona and the 1987 12 Hours of Sebring endurance races. Rahal is a principal in Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing, where he has overseen the growth of the team from a one-car program to a multi-car, multi-discipline organization. He is also responsible for finding and developing some of the top young talent in open-wheel racing.
“Rahal understands the business of racing, he understands the athletes and competition, and he knows how to win,” Steele said. “He wants to help our athletes do well at the Olympic Games, and we are fortunate to have someone with his kind of expertise and success on this team.”
“All great Olympic teams have a support team, and the USBSF athletes can feel an additional sense of support and confidence knowing that a proven winner will be on our side helping the federation take on the difficult task of fundraising,” added two-time World Champion and Olympic gold medalist Curt Tomasevicz, who attended the announcement. “Bobby Rahal has a reputation of being successful in competitive racing, and his involvement will be a great asset as we try to optimize the success of the federation at the 2014 Sochi Olympics.”
The USABSF will operate as a separate 501c3 to support USA Bobsled & Skeleton programs. Potential areas the USABSF will fund include technological advancements, youth programs, athlete career transition and direct athlete support.
BMW, a sponsor of both USBSF and BMW Team RLL, scheduled a meeting between Steele and Rahal during a race in Sebring, Fla., in March 2011 so the two teams could collaborate and share best practices. Steele met with Rahal again before the Indy 500 this summer, where they discussed Rahal’s potential role in the creation of the USABSF.
“After meeting Rahal, it was clear that he fit the profile of the kind of person we were looking for,” Steele said. “I knew we needed him on our team. He was on board to help us right away.”
With the USABSF officially launched, Rahal will begin recruiting board members to help the USBSF maintain its history of success through 2014 and beyond. The U.S. team has collected nine medals over the last three Olympic Games, and is once again the favorite to win gold in Sochi, Russia.
“The goal between now and the 2014 Olympic Games is to have eight to ten rock stars on the foundation that can have an immediate impact on the team,” Steele said. “Now that Rahal is on board, we expect to bring in some great people rather quickly.”