Boris Said drives the No. 31 Whelen Engineering Corvette in the Rolex Series GT class, which this weekend will be racing in the Detroit Grand Prix at Belle Isle.
Q. Could you tell us what role the Detroit Grand Prix has played in your career?
BORIS SAID: Basically, it started my career in racing, because I never watched car racing on TV. I never had any interest in doing it. And I was a motorcycle dealer at the time. A friend of mine who owned a Ford dealership gave me a trip to the Detroit Grand Prix, and from that trip I ended up meeting Bob Sharp and I saw Formula 1 cars on the track. I decided I wanted to go by a Formula 1 car. That's the only thing I was thinking about, how cool it was, and I was completely addicted being there 10 minutes.
Of course, I didn't go out and buy a Formula 1 car. Bob Sharp talked some sense into me about going to Skip Barber and buying a stock car and starting off there. But from that point being there it was just in my – that's all I wanted to do for the rest of my life. And it's pretty much 26, 27 years ago now.
Q. You raced in NASCAR some. How much has of that carries over to racing in the Grand-Am series?
BORIS SAID: NASCAR is a different animal. I mean, it feels almost like a different discipline altogether. Like golf and tennis – they're two separate things.
I mean, driving a car on the edge, that feel you get through your butt is the same. But driving one of those big, heavy cars with all that horsepower is a completely different discipline than driving a Corvette, a lot of grip.
But then saying that, racing's racing. When you're competing and on the track with racing wheel to wheel, I mean, some of that is the same. But it feels like it's as different as golf and tennis to me.
Q. Which of the racing series you've run was the most challenging to adapt to and why?
BORIS SAID: That's a tough question. I've run so many. But racing NASCAR was probably the toughest because I never ran any ovals growing up. Everything I did was sports car racing. So when you step out of your backyard and step out of something as different as stock cars and then to go up against the level of competition stock cars have, that's the biggest thing about NASCAR, is just how deep the field is and how hard it is to even make the races much less try to compete for a win. So that's definitely been the toughest test of my racing career.
Q. This being Grand-Am's first street course race since I believe 2006, when it ran at Long Beach, what are you expecting from your competitors temperament-wise?
BORIS SAID: The one thing is Grand-Am is a lot like NASCAR – you have a lot of temperament in the beginning of the race, but the last 20 minutes or half hour, if you've seen any of these races, I mean, it's kind of like you pull the pin on a hand grenade and put it in a Doberman Pinscher's mouth, it's going to be a street fight.
There's going to be action. There's going to be passing. A lot more passing than you'll see with Indy cars, and it will be some aggressive driving. So I think the tempers will be controlled until that last 20-minute run to the checker.
Q. The last race at New Jersey there was a little bit more door-to-door banging between the DPs and GTs, are you a little more concerned there being no run-off area here at Detroit?
BORIS SAID: No, street races are tough. But the track in New Jersey is a really tough track to pass on for some reason, just the way the circuit is.
And the DPs and the GT cars were closer in time than at most tracks. But in saying that, I mean street courses are just tough because there is no run-off and one little mistake you're in the concrete, and the concrete always wins.
It's definitely going to have to be a game of give and take between the GT cars and the DP cars. But for the most part we get along pretty good. And the good guys there, you know, give the GT cars room when they're racing and we give them room when we see them racing. So I think it will be OK.
Q. Talk a little bit about your experiences racing at Detroit, and I know you ran there in Trans-Am a couple of times. Iis there anything you take from those past experiences to this weekend's event?
BORIS SAID: Street races in general are a little different discipline, again, like a normal race, like when we go to Mid-Ohio or New Jersey or Barber. We go out on the track first on Friday. So the track's going to be really green.
So you really have to be patient and the change you do to the car and how much aggression -- how much you attack the racetrack, because the track will keep getting better and better and better and rubber end, the fastest laps will be probably at the end of the race. You've got to keep your emotions in control so you don't make a mistake and put it in the barriers. That's the biggest thing. A street race, to be fast, you gotta have a lot of confidence and you can't make any mistakes.
And Detroit, as I remember from Trans-Am, it's a pretty tough track. It's really technical. To be fast, you've got to really, really trust yourself and run close to the walls and be in the gas before you can even see the exit.
And there's a lot of camber bits in the past. I don't know if it will be the same. But there's good places to pass. And I'm expecting a really good race. I'm looking at the weather and I'm more concerned about the rain more than the track. I think the rain will even throw another monkey wrench in the equation and make it even tougher.