With the sounds of young Boris Jr. playing in the background of his California home, Boris Said reflected on his most recent foray back into the world of NASCAR racing.
Said first took the wheel this past weekend in NASCAR's Camping World Series West at Infineon Raceway in the Sonoma Valley. "I love coming to this track," shared Said. "Racing with these guys was crazy."
Said admitted that he did not quite have the motor to keep up the pace. In spite of being down on horsepower, Said managed a solid fourth place finish in the West race.
"We blew an engine coming to the checkered flag," commented Said. He was also proud to run a tribute to Kenny Stabler on his West series car, saying that he almost thought that Stabler might just "throw his pads on" to get him through the final turns of the road course to take the checkered flag.
Next up for Said was the Toyota/Save Mart 350, the Cup Series' first road course race of the season. Said practiced well, hovering in the top three for much of the first practice.
"I did well in practice and then had to qualify into the race," commented Said. "I was happy to qualify in the 9th spot."
Said admitted, "I haven't been racing in awhile. It has been really tough to find a corporate sponsor" in these challenging economic times.
But find a sponsor he did. A wildlife alliance organization was so impressed with Said's qualifying effort that they stepped up to sponsor the car for the Cup race.
Said ran a good race, as expected since he is indeed known as one of NASCAR's road course masters. Said advised that he was "in the top ten to twelve" cars, until he was tagged with a pit road speeding penalty exiting the pits on lap 67.
Said was assessed a pass through penalty that put him well back in the field. He then got "turned twice and after that, there was not enough time to catch up," said a disappointed Said.
Said continued, "I ran a smart race. My big mistake was in turn 11, getting into David Gilliland."
"There was lots going on," commented Said. "The track was slippery and I just hadn't been in a car for awhile."
Said ended up finishing in the 24th position in his No. 08 Ford. Although the finish was not what Said expected, he was even more surprised by the double file restarts.
"It was crazy; a real riot," reflected Said. "I'm sure the fans loved it, but it was really wild from the driver's perspective."
Although enjoying being back in the driver's seat, just like the road course at Infineon, Said's racing career in 2009 has had its share of twists and turns. He had fully expected to have Rick Clark Motorsports take 51 percent ownership of his No Fear Team by this time in the season.
Said advised that RCM, as one of the first African American teams, had high hopes for getting sponsors and putting Boris in a car on the track. "They are trying hard," commented Said.
He admitted the deal is "not dead yet," but it still has not happened. With the tough economic times, Said is not sure if indeed the deal will be sealed by year end.
Said is, however, looking forward to going to the next road race in the season at Watkins Glen. He fully intends to go "no matter what" with or without sponsorship and is really "looking forward to it."
The other twist and turn for Said has been his recent accident in the ALMS race in Long Beach, California. Said's Corvette burst into flames and he suffered second degree burns on his arms and eyes.
"My head was swollen up for a few days," advised Said. "I looked like a monster."
Said shared that he really "didn't feel like I'd been hurt that bad." But he most certainly appreciated the many calls, text messages, and prayers that were sent his way as he recovered.
Said absolutely appreciates his fans, often dubbed "Said heads," donning curly wigs in tribute to their favorite driver.
When asked what he would like to say to his fans if given the chance, Said commented most sincerely that he would like to say "thanks for the support and that he is "amazed and flattered" by how his fans have stuck by him.
Said is doing everything he can to position himself to attract sponsors and get the opportunity to be back on the track more often. He advises that he is working on sponsorship, often doing cold calls, while Frankie Stoddard continues to work on the cars.
"Racing has changed a lot," shared Said. "It has become super expensive and the days of seeing just one sponsor on the car are over."
Said advised that "corporate America is pretty much locked down." He continued, "I feel sorry for Americans. Things need to not only get better for racing, but for America in general."
Said tries to keep it all in perspective. "I still want to try and I am not giving up," shared Said.
He keeps his hand in racing by participating in the Grand Am sports car racing series. He also travels to Connecticut to shoot NASCAR Now for ESPN, which he does on a part-time basis and which he admits helps to "pay the bills."
The bottom line, though, is Said is a racer, and there is nothing more that he wants to do than to get back out on the track on a regular basis. He still yearns to "drive like Dale Earnhardt, Sr., be as cool as Dale Jr., and race as competitively as Tony Stewart."
There is no doubt that Said will do everything he can to get his career on course to take the next step. And there is also no doubt that each "Said head" will be cheering every step of the way.