Boris Said Suffers Same Fate as Dale Earnhardt, Jr. in American Le Mans Series

Mary Jo BuchananSenior Writer IApril 21, 2009

Boris Said suffered the same fate this weekend as Dale Earnhardt Jr. did almost five years ago while in the American Le Mans Series race.  Said's car, like Junior's before him, burst into flames with just a few minutes left in the race.

Said, in his No. 28 LG Motorsports Corvette, was driving in the AMLS for car owner Lou Gigliotti.  Said's race car had had some contact with a BMW going into a turn prior to the car bursting into flames.

Apparently, this contact resulted in some damage to the car, which ultimately resulted in the fire.  Said was able to exit quickly from the car and the safety crews did their work admirably.

At first, it appeared that Said was not injured.  The safety crews examined him carefully and Said was able to leave under his own power.

Said waved to the crowd and gingerly got into the medical aid car.  Unfortunately, he was burned more severely than anyone knew at the time.

For many NASCAR fans, Said's crash brought back vivid memories of Dale Earnhardt, Jr.'s fiery wreck in the same series and make of car.  In 2004, Junior was also racing in a Corvette in the American Le Mans Series race at Infineon.

Again, after some contact, Earnhardt, Jr.'s Corvette burst into flames.  As with Said, it initially appeared that Junior was not badly injured.

But later it was revealed that Earnhardt's burns were more serious.  He had second degree burns on his chin, neck and legs.

Earnhardt, Jr. said, "It was bad. They have sensors in the car.  It went from 155 degrees to 750 degrees in a second-and-a-half".

Junior continued, "And then the sensor burned out.  So, it was probably a lot hotter than that".  Nascar's most popular driver spent weeks of painful recuperation from the inferno.

It now appears that Said will have a similar road to recovery.  Car owner Lou Gigliotti advised that "Boris is OK but he will have a few weeks of sleepless nights with burns on his arms and eyes".

Gigliotti continued, "His face is swollen today and he is not happy".

Former crew chief and NASCAR team owner Ray Evernham revealed that he too had spoken to Said.  He advised his arms and hands were burned and sore and that his eyes were swollen shut.

But Evernham shared that Said's sense of humor remained intact.  In fact, the driver said that the fire did not do any further damage to his face than what was already there.

Evernham can empathize greatly with Said. He too suffered a fiery crash as a driver.  He had just taken on a full load of fuel when a car plowed into him, igniting the race car.

Evernham vividly recalled the heat and the smell of his burning fire suit and flesh.  To this day, the fire haunts him and he knows exactly what Said is going through.

Evernham also acknowledged that as a new race track owner, he is pretty strict on his fire safety precautions.  In fact, he recently got into an intense verbal argument with a driver at his track who refused to get fire- retardant underwear.

Most race car drivers will say that they do not fear the wrecks, including barrel rolling or flipping, as much as they fear fire.  It is the one element that truly gives them pause.

As Earnhardt, Jr. said after his fiery scare, “At that moment, you think of everything. You know, you think, ‘I could die here.’" 

Junior continued, “This could be how I go. This would really suck if it's the way I'm going out."

There is no doubt that Boris Said is experiencing similar sentiments after his encounter with the fire in his cockpit.  As with Dale Earnhardt, Jr., the hope will be that Said can recover just as quickly and return to the seat of a race car as soon as possible.

All race fans, from the American Le Mans Series to NASCAR, wish him the speediest of recoveries.

 Source:  The Nascar Files; The Associated Press; CBS News