Boris Said has driven – and won – in most every type of race car in the United States, giving him great insight as to what works and what doesn’t work in American motorsports.
As the two-time 24 Hours of Daytona winner prepares for this weekend’s Grand American Rolex Series event – which will be on the bill with the IZOD Indy Car Series at Belle Isle this weekend – Said took the time to look at the state of road racing in the U.S., and unearth what he feels are some hidden gems in the series.
American Le Mans where you go there and they have three P1 cars, that's not a race. That's testing with champagne at the end of the day
With NASCAR taking much of the motor racing consumers’ time and money in the last decade, the first American to win the 24 Hours of the Nurburgring said that the fundamentals that made NASCAR popular originally are still alive and well – just not in NASCAR.
“You look at the lower ranks of Grand-Am and the Continental Tire Challenge, and that's a great series,” Said reported. “If that series was brought in front of the masses, I mean, it's exciting. You're going to see cars that you can identify with, because they're pretty much street cars. You're going to see aggressive driving. You're going to see a lot of crashes and a lot of passing.
“I think it's one of the best kept secrets in racing,” continued Said. “A lot of guys you've never heard of. Young up-and-coming Americans trying to make a name for themselves in road racing and there's a lot of talent in the Continental Tire Challenge. I think Grand-Am has a pretty good ladder system to make it in auto racing right now.”
One of the tenets of stock-car as well as sportscar racing in the U.S. is equality. Both Grand-Am and the American Le Mans Series spend a ton of time and resources in attempting to create a level playing field for their participants – and more importantly for their manufacturers.
“It is a tough job when you have so many different kinds of cars, different makes, to try to make them all equal,” told Said. “Somebody's always going to be whining and crying. BMW can't win every year. But I think it will all come around. I mean, right now it looks like Porsche has a little advantage. Some tracks it won't. But Grand-Am is good about making adjustments and getting it equal. So they're not too quick to react. They don't make knee-jerk decisions, but they'll always do the right thing and they're always trying to make it like NASCAR where everyone has an equal playing field.”
That attention to equality and the steps taken to make the series affordable for the next generation of racing talent is what sets Grand-Am apart from other series according to Said.
“Everywhere in America everything is shrinking, whether you go to any sporting event, any race series right now, but we have 70 cars every weekend,” said the former 12 Hours of Sebring champ. “As you get up to the higher levels it costs more money and money is scarce. So I think Grand-Am has done an unbelievable job making equal cars that are affordable and having good racing compared to some of the other road race series, American Le Mans where you go there and they have three P1 cars, that's not a race. That's testing with champagne at the end of the day. So I think Grand-Am has a really good formula, and I think once the economy comes back it's going to thrive even more.”