The Racing Capital
of the World
July 24, 2012 | By Bruce Martin
Racing around the Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course is nothing new for GRAND-AM veteran and occasional NASCAR driver Boris Said III. He was there the day that four-time Brickyard champion and four-time NASCAR Cup champion Jeff Gordon and then Formula One driver and current NASCAR driver Juan Pablo Montoya switched race cars in June 2003.
Montoya, winner of the 2000 Indianapolis 500, drove Gordon’s No. 24 Chevrolet while Gordon got to drive Montoya’s Williams-BMW F1 car.
“I drove people around in my BMW race car and that was pretty cool,” Said recalled. “And I qualified for my first Brickyard there, and that was a neat experience.”
Said started 32nd and finished 31st in his first Brickyard 400 in 2005. The next year he started 43rd and finished 42nd.
Said is back at the Brickyard this year as a GRAND-AM driver for the Kroger Super Weekend at the Brickyard, competing in both sports car races Friday. He will drive in the Continental Tire Sports Car Challenge for Turner and will also be in the cockpit of the Whelen Corvette Daytona Prototype in the Rolex Sports Car Series race.
“I’ve raced there twice in the Cup car in the Brickyard, and it was pretty cool – a big deal,” Said remembered. “I think there are three marquee races that GRAND-AM has – the 24 Hours of Daytona, the Detroit Grand Prix because its Motor City and Indianapolis. I think it’s neat. It’s hard to explain to somebody what it’s like sitting on the starting grid at Indianapolis looking down the straightaway. It’s a unique thing.
Said has been quite popular in GRAND-AM because of his personality and television work that he has done in motorsports in the past.
“I’m surprised the people that know me at a place like Detroit, from the hotel people that people you wouldn’t think are race fans,” Said opined. “I’m always surprised by it, but it’s flattering. It always has been and always will be. Maybe the appeal is because I’m funny-looking or I always speak what is on my mind, and I don’t always say the right thing.
“I have no idea because I don’t know if I would be a Boris Said fan.”
Perhaps it’s the fact that Boris is a unique name. Or maybe it’s his unique racing career.
“I’ve raced so many different things, and that appeals to some people,” Said offered.
While many of the drivers in the GRAND-AM field drove on the IMS road course for the first time during a recent test in July, Said got to tool around the race course way back in 2003.
“The Continental Challenge is always exciting,” Said said. “For sure, Turn 1 will be really exciting because of the turnoff to the infield is real easy to try to pull out and pass and outbrake somebody, and in GRAND-AM, you will see that. The Cup race is long and it’s hard to run two-by-two and harder to race in the Cup car, but in GRAND-AM there should be a few things we can do.”
During Said’s Cup career, he won the pole at Sonoma in 2003 and another pole at Daytona for the July 2006 race and has achieved a level of success in other divisions of NASCAR. In 44 Cup starts over 14 years, he has two top-five finishes and eight top-10s.
In 23 Nationwide starts in 23 years, he had one win, at Montreal in 2010. In 65 NASCAR Camping World Truck Series starts, Said has one win, at Sonoma in 1998, six top-five and nine top-10 finishes.
Since 1998, Said has 10 wins, 17 podiums and 12 poles in 63 GRAND-AM starts.
“I have multiple poles in all three series, with a Truck win and a Nationwide win and two or three top-fives in Cup, and that is hard,” said Said, 49. “I remember the first year I went there to watch the Indy 500 when Arie Luyendyk won in 1990 I remember that year in the Corvette Challenge being around Indy cars all the time. When I went to Indy just to watch, it’s a special place.
“A.J. Foyt said it best when he said that place makes stars. Dario Franchitti, no matter all of the things he has won and as good as he is, the first thing you will say about him is he’s a three-time Indianapolis 500 winner. That’s the first thing that will come out of your mouth.
“It’s a big boost to GRAND-AM because there will be a lot more eyes on the series,” Said said. “And when you get a lot more eyes, you get a lot more involvement, and that is what we need.”