Phil Kurze, vice president of motorsports for Whelen Engineering – which sponsors the NASCAR Whelen All-American, Modified Tour and Euro series – and who served as president of The Bo-Dyn Bobsled Project with NASCAR great Geoff Bodine, passed away recently in Colchester, Connecticut, following a lengthy battle with cancer, according to the Adirondack (New York) Daily Enterprise. Kurze was 69.
Kurze first became involved with Bodine when Kurze wanted to help sponsor one of Bodine’s race cars. That initial interaction led to a long friendship that prompted Kurze, Bodine and engineer/race car designer Bob Cuneo to form The Bo-Dyn Bobsled Project in 2003.
Kurze, who worked for Whelen for over 25 years, also became president of the Project, which has produced bobsleds that have won seven Olympic medals, including the gold medal in the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada.
When the Project’s most famous sled, “Night Train,” piloted by the late Steven Holcomb, captured gold in Vancouver, it marked the first time in 62 years (since 1948) that the United States earned a gold medal in bobsledding. The Project utilized much of Bodine’s accomplishments as a race car driver and innovations as a race car designer and adapted them to bobsled racing.
“I’m overcome with sadness over the loss of Phil, and want to express my heartfelt sympathies to his family,” Bodine said, according to Monday’s edition of the Daily Enterprise. “Phil was our friend and colleague, and a wonderful family man. He was most instrumental in positioning our sleds for the international success that we experienced. And I know he’s now exchanging those stories with Steve in the hereafter.”
Kurze is survived by his wife of 44 years, Jo-Ann, daughter Katharine Ahlgren (husband Christopher), three grandchildren, Ryan, Hadley and Bode, and his mother Doris.
Whelen Engineering has sponsored the NASCAR Whelen All-American Series since 1982, the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour Series since 2006 and the NASCAR Whelen Euro Series in 2013. It also is heavily involved in the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship series.