The Frontstretch: Beyond the Cockpit: Boris Said Dishes On NASCAR Past, Present, And Future by Phil Allaway -- Tuesday February 14, 2012

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Boris Said: a jack of all trades in motorsports. He is a well-known expert on road courses, and particularly skilled in heavier equipment. He was champion of the Trans-Am Series in 2002, driving a Panoz Esperante. He is a multiple-time class winner in endurance events, including the 24 Hours of Daytona, the 12 Hours of Sebring and the 24 Hours of the Nurburgring. He’s even driven in the Rally events in the X-Games.

In NASCAR, despite racing full-time for two seasons in the then-Craftsman Truck Series, Said is best known for his appearances on road courses as a “road course ringer.” In this role, Said has earned top-5 finishes in Cup, victories in the Trucks and in the Nationwide Series. Plus, we cannot forget Said’s dedicated group of fans known as the “Said Heads.” They’re easily recognizable at races by the ridiculous wigs they wear to try to replicate Said’s curly locks.

Clearly, this driver has a sterling reputation in whatever type of car he straps into any given Sunday. But, while hard to believe he’s also on the verge of turning 50. What will the future hold, and will we see the Californian back in NASCAR? Said took time from his busy schedule to answer those questions, sitting down with our Phil Allaway to dish about the Rolex 24, his time in stock car racing and so much more.

Boris Said will once again compete at NASCAR’s road course races in 2012.

Phil Allaway, Frontstretch.com: Let’s talk about your plans for 2012. You’re running the Rolex 24 with Turner Motorsport. Is this ride just a one-off for you, along with some more races in the Continental Tire Sports Car Challenge?

Said: I’m going to do the whole year in Continental Challenge with Turner Motorsport, but then after this race, I’m going to run the Whelen Corvette for the rest of the year in the Rolex Series.

Allaway: Yes, Marsh Racing. They chose not to enter the Rolex. Is there a reason why that’s so?

Said: Yeah. They rebuilt the car after last year when Joey Logano wrecked it. We just didn’t want to start the year at a 24-hour race that’s so hard on the car and the crew, so they just decided to do all the races but this.

It gives me the chance to race the BMW, which for me [is important] since I just opened the BMW dealership seven months ago. I could use it to help promote the brand and the franchise.

Allaway: Where is that dealership?

Said: It’s in Murrieta, California, between Riverside and San Diego. It’s actually the first new BMW franchise in over 11 years.

Allaway: Last year, Kenny Wallace was at the Rolex 24, driving for TRG Motorsports. He had made reference during a press conference that RAB Racing with Brack Maggard was considering putting you in a second car for the road courses last year.

Said: Yeah, they were trying to since I had won Montreal the year before for their first win and my first win in Nationwide. Unfortunately, they just couldn’t find the sponsorship to do it. It was a tough year last year in America for that. Just one of those deals.

Allaway: So, it just fell apart by, say April or May?

Said: He worked really hard up until the last minute, right up until Watkins Glen in August. It just didn’t happen. I kinda had all my eggs in that basket, so I sat out Watkins Glen last year. I hate it, but that’s just the way it was.

Hopefully, this year, I think I have the road races put together. I’m working on a lot of deals for the road races. I’m sure I’ll do that in NASCAR this year.

Allaway: By the road races, you mean the two in Sprint Cup and the three in Nationwide?

Said: I’ll probably only do two in Nationwide, or skip the Cup race [in Sonoma]. I haven’t decided yet because Road America and Sonoma are on the same weekend. If I do the Cup race, I’ve got to commit to that. If I don’t do it this year, then I’ll go to Road America and do all three races since Grand-Am’s there too.

Allaway: You have a fairly long history in NASCAR. Starts-wise, maybe not so much, but you have a fairly long history, about 13 or 14 years. Are you fine with the way that it’s actually gone so far, or do you think you should have dedicated yourself to NASCAR full-time more, maybe back in the late 1990’s?

Said: I would have liked to. Where the opportunity was to do my first Cup race was in 1998 [at Watkins Glen] when Jimmy Spencer got hurt, and they knew I was a road course racer. I did pretty good in his car, racing the No. 23 for Travis Carter. After that, the phone always rang for the road courses. I never really got the chance to do any ovals.

I loved it. I love competing. Do I wish I was as fast as Kyle Busch and could go out there and win every race? Sure, who doesn’t? But, I started racing really late in life. I was 25. Most of those guys are retiring now at 25, seems like. If I only get to do a couple of races a year, and one NASCAR race a year, I think it’s like a bonus for me. I cherish it and I have a blast doing it. I think the most I’ve ever done in one year is seven or eight . I would have loved to have gotten a full season to see if I could do it, pick it up and come along. Over those 14 years, I probably only have 50 or 60 starts.

Boris Said has always been a mainstay in NASCAR garages at Sonoma and Watkins Glen, making races with teams that typically struggle outside the top 35 in owner points.

Allaway: I looked it up this morning. For Cup, it’s 43.

Said: 43? Yeah, that’s nothing. Most people don’t even get up to speed in that many starts. Look at Paul Menard. It’s taken him a couple of years to get up to speed. It does because those guys, in my opinion, are the best drivers in the world. There’s nobody that’s in a car that much, and the level of competition and how good all the teams are. As a driver coming from sports car racing, I’ve always wanted to test myself, like “How good am I against the best?” And, I cherish the opportunity the race against those guys. Do I think I’m better than those guys? No. I’m happy the few times that I’ve competed and have been really good. I’ve won a Truck race (1998 at then-Sears Point Raceway), I’ve won a Nationwide race, I’ve finished third in a Cup race (2005 at Watkins Glen) and I have poles in Cup, Trucks and Nationwide. I was leading the race here at Daytona, the Pepsi 400 with ten laps to go and got passed with two to go. Still, I finished fourth. I’m proud of what I’ve done in Cup for the lack of experience. If I never get to do another race, I can still tick it off the list and it was a blast doing it. If I get to do more this year, whether it’s one or five or ten, then I’m happy with whatever it is.

Allaway: Are you going to do any racing overseas this year, like the 24 Hours of the Nurburgring?

Said: Yep, I’m planning on going to the Nurburgring this year. I’m working on a few deals right now. I’m also planning on going back to Australia for V8 Supercars.

Allaway: The one in Surfer’s Paradise?

Said: Yeah. It was a blast last year doing that. I was driving the V.I.P. Petfoods Holden for Paul Morris Motorsport.

Allaway: With Steve Owen?

Said: Yeah.

Allaway: What are your thoughts about the Surfer’s Paradise circuit?

Said: It’s a street course just like we race at Long Beach or any other street course in America. The tough part is you’re driving on the wrong side of the car. It doesn’t sound like much, but when you’re sitting on the right side of the car and you have all that space on the left, it’s a whole different feeling. When you’re not used to it, it’s pretty tough because at a street course, you have to be confident with where you put the car. There’s a lot of blind turns and you run really close to the cement barriers. They did such a great job with that event, though. It was just awesome. I hope I get invited back.

Allaway: How is the Marsh Racing (post-Daytona) effort looking for this season?

Said: It’s looking really good. Whelen Engineering puts a lot into the effort and Eric Curran is a great co-driver. We’ve already been testing, and there’s a lot of new competition this year, so it’s tough to say [where we are]. Probably have to wait until we get to Homestead. Regardless, I’m looking forward to it. We’ve got a really great bunch of guys.

Allaway: What’s the difference between driving the M3 for the Rolex Series and the M3 in the Continental Tire Sports Car Challenge?

Said: The Continental Series M3 is a lot more of a street car than the tube-framed race car. It’s just a different style of driving. You can’t overdrive it as much as you can the GT car.

Allaway: What’s the strategy for that race? Go as fast as you possibly can?

Said: Yeah, its a 2.5 hour race, so it’s pretty much a sprint race. Every lap, fast as you can. That’s how the Continental Challenge is, it’s a free-for-all. It’s tough racing. Kinda like V8 Supercars in a way. Very aggressive drivers. A lot of cars, a lot of traffic, a lot of close racing. It’s a blast, it’s a lot of fun.

***

If you’re wondering, yes, I did briefly ask Said about the infamous confrontation with Greg Biffle back at Watkins Glen last year. Said claimed the whole incident is over now. However, he did state that “we didn’t exchange Christmas cards.” Also, he claims the events of Watkins Glen have not had any effect on anyone’s opinion of him in NASCAR circles.

In the BMW Performance 200 for the Continental Tire Sports Car Challenge, Said and Marsal drove their No. 97 BMW M3 to a trouble-free seventh-place finish after qualifying 26th. However, the Rolex 24 at Daytona was anything but trouble-free. An off-course excursion cost the team some time while Billy Johnson was driving, then an engine issue put the team in the garage. Unfortunately, the engine issue was terminal and forced the team to retire in the third hour. Said never even got a chance to get in the car.

Contact Phil Allaway

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