In 2013, Nick Baumgartner finished third in the Stadium Super Trucks race at The Dome at America’s Center. Nearly a decade later, he can also add a racing-related gold medal in the Olympic Games.
The Winter Olympics in Beijing, China, saw Baumgartner compete for Team USA in snowboard cross; he has made the Olympic team each time since 2010, though he failed to medal in his first three tries before his breakthrough on Saturday. Just two days after a devastating defeat in the men’s individual event where he finished one position short of making the final, he and Lindsey Jacobellis brought home the gold in the inaugural mixed team snowboard cross event.
One of two American teams in the mixed races, Baumgartner and Jacobellis won both of their heat races to advance to the final. Baumgartner took the lead on an overtake while airbourne before passing the metaphorical baton to Jacobellis. In a dramatic battle with 2018 women’s snowboard cross gold medalist Michela Moioli of Italy, Jacobellis held off her rival to seal the victory. At 40 years of age, Baumgartner is the oldest snowboarder to win an Olympic medal, while his 36-year-old team-mate combined to make the oldest duo competing in the event.
Snwoboard cross is perhaps a fitting discipline for winter athletes with a penchant for motorsport, as it is basically a downhill race between competitors rather than a score-based event. Baumgartner’s experience also extends beyond the Olympics as a two-time Winter X Games medalist, winning gold in 2011 and silver the following year.
Since 2011, Baumgartner has also found himself behind the wheel of a short course off-road truck. He competed in the now defunct TORC: The Off-Road Championship, winning at Crandon in just his second career start in the Stock Truck class which he said at the time ranked “right up there with making the Olympic team and winning at X Games.” After claiming Rookie of the Year honours, he moved up to Pro Lite. He also participated in the 2012 SCORE International Baja 1000 as a co-driver alongside Clyde Stacy, Mike Powell, and Steven Arlia, where their #219 Class 2 entry overcame an broken axle to finish the full distance.
In 2013, he joined the newly formed Stadium Super Trucks, running the first six races. At the Edwards Jones Dome in St. Louis (now The Dome at America’s Center), he finished third behind Rob MacCachren and series founder Robby Gordon in what would be his final start of the season. Baumgartner returned to SST for the 2014 Summer X Games at Circuit of the Americas, making him one of a handful of athletes who have competed in both seasonal X Games. After finishing fourth in his heat race to make the final, he placed eighth.
SST gave Baumgartner a shout-out in a Throwback Thursday post on Instagram, prompting him to comment, “Much love guys. Miss These days and all the good times and great people”.
Despite the debate that flashes up every four years, motorsport and the Olympic Games generally do not overlap, though this doesn’t mean there is no crossover whatsoever. Motor racing appeared at the 1900 Summer Olympics as part of the World’s Fair, though the International Olympics Committee (IOC) has never confirmed if the World’s Fair events count as Olympic sports. In 2012, the FIA received IOC recognition.
In terms of athletes, some Formula One drivers have competed in the Games like Prince Birabongse Bhanudej (sailing, Thailand), Divina Galica (skiing, Great Britain), Roberto Mieres (sailing, Argentina), Ben Pon (shooting, Netherlands), Alfonso de Portago (bobsleigh, Spain), Bob Said (bobsleigh, USA), and Robin Widdows (bobsleigh, Britain), though none were able to medal. Tom Stallard, who works as Daniel Ricciardo‘s engineer at McLaren, won a silver medal in rowing for Britain in 2008. Longtime NASCAR driver Geoff Bodine runs the Bo-Dyn Bobsled Project, which has provided bobsleighs for Team USA to use in the Winter Games. On the British side, Olympic cycling legends Jason Kenny and Chris Hoy have dabbled in sports cars, with the latter also racing in the 24 Hours of Le Mans, while 2010 skeleton gold medalist Amy Williams has done rallying.
However, perhaps the most notable racing/Olympic crossover instead comes in the Paralympic Games. Alex Zanardi, a two-time CART champion and former F1 driver who lost his legs in a wreck, is a four-time Paralympic gold medalist in cycling with two apiece in the 2012 and 2016 Summer Games.