What happens when top motorsports drivers spend time with Olympic-level athletes? They test their skills against each other in unique ways, which Denny Hamlin and Bubba Wallace helped prove during a recent trip to Utah.
The two NASCAR drivers took part in a unique event prior to the trip to New Hampshire Motor Speedway. The Cup Series competitors — along with analyst Rutledge Wood; J.R. Todd and Shawn Langdon from NHRA; and Fredric Aasbo from Formula Drift — spent time at the Utah Olympic Park and the USANA Center of Excellence in Park City while learning how the top athletes on the US Ski & Snowboard team prepare for their own competitions.
This experience provided some new opportunities for the members of the Toyota Racing family, especially Wallace. The 23XI Racing driver leaped at the opportunity to go off of the water ramp at the facility, which is what the ski and snowboard athletes use to test their skills before heading to the mountain and the unforgiving snow. Wallace worked with four Olympians, and he did multiple jumps into the water.
Wallace also tested his aerial skills in a different manner. He headed to the trampoline next to the foam pit and did some flips under the watchful eyes of professional snowboarder Toby Miller, who has put his skills on display at the X Games, the Dew Tour, and the World Snowboard Championships.
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“The Toyota Crossover event in Park City, Utah was incredible! I got the opportunity to meet athletes in different sports and learn about their craft, and that was truly special,” Miller said in a statement to Heavy.
“I had the pleasure of spending time with Bubba and Denny, who are two incredibly talented and just overall great humans. Whether it was hitting the water jump on skis, going down the bobsled track, or trying a double frontflip into the foam pit, they were up for the challenge.”
The Day Featured Some Workouts & Unique Events
The Toyota Racing drivers took part in a packed day in Park City. Wallace tested his aerial skills while Hamlin spent a lot of time on the basketball court. All of the Toyota Racing drivers also went through a training session with one of the US Ski & Snowboard strength and conditioning coaches, which included weightlifting and an obstacle course.
While there are some similarities between the training styles, especially the emphasis on core strength, there are also some noticeable differences. The athletes in Park City put particular focus on explosive movements, long jumps, vertical jumps and overall balance.
“The real fun began when the entire Toyota Family entered U.S. Ski & Snowboard’s USANA Center of Excellence gym — we were all pushing each other to lift more weights, jump higher, and do more reps,” Miller added. “That day was probably exactly what you’d expect when you put an amalgamation of competitive athletes in the same room. It was truly an honor to be a part of such a talented group of individuals.”
Toyota Racing Drivers Have Previously Visited the Park City Facilities
The recent crossover event featuring Toyota athletes was not the first time that NASCAR drivers have headed to Park City. Some others also did so in 2017 so that they could help kick off the partnership between Toyota and US Ski & Snowboard.
The inaugural crossover took place in June 2017. Martin Truex Jr. and Erik Jones both represented Furniture Row Racing while Daniel Suarez represented Joe Gibbs Racing. Crew chiefs Cole Pearn and Chris Gayle were both in attendance to check out the facilities and take part in some unique workouts.
The NASCAR group was in Utah for two days, and they had a jam-packed schedule. They worked out with the strength and conditioning coach, did flips on the trampolines, rode in the bobsled, tested out the skiing and snowboarding simulators, and hiked to the top of the ski jumps. The drivers and crew chiefs even learned to skate from Olympic speedskaters at the Utah Olympic Oval.