INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. – This offseason Panther’s eternal pursuit of winning the Indianapolis 500 will take a brief timeout in an attempt to help the United States win Olympic gold. The USA Luge team, in Indianapolis for this weekend’s Norton USA Slider Search, will be visiting the Panther headquarters on Friday to meet with technical director David Cripps and to have an on-board telemetry system installed to one of their luge sleds.

Both the US Bobsled and Luge teams have had a longstanding relationship with the National Guard, and during the IndyCar Series race in Belle Isle this year officials from the Olympic team attended the race, where they met Cripps during a garage tour. A causal conversation quickly evolved into development ideas and the collaboration was underway.

“I believe they were touring the transporter and we just struck up a conversation,” Cripps recalls. “We realized relatively quickly that Panther could help them.”

Once Panther installs the on-board telemetry to the luge, Cripps will visit them during a practice day in Lake Placid to help fine-tune the telemetry and illustrate the ways in which IndyCar engineers analyze the data. The hope is the technology that has been instrumental in IndyCar racing since the late 1980s will be a vital step in the US earning gold in the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia.

“I think I’ll need to attend that,” Cripps laughed.

Slider Search in Indianapolis this Weekend:
The Norton USA Luge Slider Search, which targets boys and girls ages 9 to 13 will be held On Saturday and Sunday, October 13-14, young athletes who want to experience the thrill of luge and train under the guidance of USA Luge national team coaches and athletes can do so when the Norton USA Luge Slider Search rolls into Indianapolis. The event will be held at the Wilbur Shaw Soap Box Derby Course at 30th Street and Cold Springs Road. Clinics will take place each day from 9 a.m.-12 p.m. and 2-5 p.m. Participants can register for one clinic of their choice on either day or register for all clinics. Registration is free.

During a Norton USA Luge Slider Search clinic, USA Luge coaches and athletes teach youngsters the basics of riding a luge sled, including position, steering and stopping. Armed with the basics, the young athletes make several runs down a paved street on wheeled sleds. Finally, the youngsters measure their physical skills through a battery of fitness tests. Those who show the most promise at the clinics are invited to train in Lake Placid, N.Y. at the US Olympic Training Center and will be considered for selection to the US Junior Development Luge Team.

The Search produced reigning women’s World Champion Erin Hamlin along with eight members of the 2010 US Olympic Luge Team.

The event is free and participants will also receive a USA-Luge T-shirt. For complete information and to register for the USA Luge Slider Search, call 1-800-USA LUGE ext 105 or visit

USA Luge uses the Slider Search, now in its 27th season, as its primary means of athlete recruitment. US Luge athletes have captured over 560 international medals since 1994. Included in that total are silver and bronze medals during the 1998 and 2002 Olympic Winter Games, 25 World Cup victories, four overall World Cup doubles crowns, 18 Junior World Championship titles and 12 Senior World Championship medals.

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