Michael Scully has raced cars and snowboards, so he wasn’t expecting any surprises when he took his first ride in a bobsled in October 2011. For the BMW designer, who has 20 years experience building speed machines, the minute-long, 70-mile-an-hour run down the icy track at Lake Placid, N.Y., was a hair-raising revelation. “Just the brutality and the violence of it was something that really left an impact on me,” says Scully, 42, the creative director of the BMW Group DesignworksUSA studio in Newbury Park, Calif. “As a designer, it’s your responsibility to look at those experiences and try to leverage those into design directions.”
BMW, which has a six-year sponsorship deal with the U.S. Olympic Committee (USOC), assigned Scully to help the American men win their first Olympic gold medal in two-man bobsled since 1936 at the upcoming Winter Games in Sochi, Russia. Alpine countries have all but dominated the sport since it made its debut at the 1924 Olympics, though U.S. women have won medals at the last three Winter Games.