An Interview with Boris Said, Burt Frisselle and Tommy Kendall MODERATOR: Good afternoon, everybody. We're literally taking time off from a day at the track here at Watkins Glen to be joined by one of our friends to make a couple of...
An Interview with Boris Said, Burt Frisselle and Tommy Kendall
MODERATOR: Good afternoon, everybody. We're literally taking time off from a day at the track here at Watkins Glen to be joined by one of our friends to make a couple of announcements and just talk a little bit of racing as we get ready for the Crown Royal 200 at The Glen tomorrow night. We have Boris Said with us here today, as well as Burt Frisselle, and joining us is Tommy Kendall who is going to have an announcement to make very shortly. We'll get started with Boris. Boris is racing in the No. 8 Synergy Racing Porsche Doran, but he won here with Jorg Bergmeister a couple of races ago in the Sahlen's Six Hours of The Glen. Boris, you'll drive anything they ask you to drive, but talk about how it's going this weekend.
BORIS SAID: It's a big weekend; I'm driving my Sobe No Fear Ford (in the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Race), the Ingersoll-Rand Dodge (in the NASCAR Busch Series event) and then this Daytona Prototype, which is the No. 8 Porsche. So I'm going to be busy this weekend. I love this track and I love the people and hopefully just going to have a blast.
MODERATOR: We're actually going to do another press conference tomorrow right here at Watkins Glen with drivers who are running both the Grand-Am race, as well as the NASCAR events. So Boris will be part of that, but he's joining us now as someone who has been there. Part of the reason we wanted to have him on the phone with us as a driver he used to race fender-to-fender with Tommy Kendall and your soon-to-be co-driver, Burt Frisselle, is here with us. Tommy, talk about what you're going to be doing when we head out west.
TOMMY KENDALL: The deal to run these two races in the Ironclad Pontiac GTO really came out of the blue. It's funny, there a couple different worlds colliding. One of my friends is the founder of Ironclad, and of course I knew the Pacific Coast guys through my commentating when they were in Atlantic and so forth and I got a call from (Pacific Coast Motorsports Team Director) Tyler Tadevic and he said, 'Hey, do you want to come run these races?' Ironically, I had been itching to get back into something, and the timing was good, so here we go.
MODERATOR: Burt, talk about racing Tommy Kendall. When was the first time you saw him race? when you were a young guy?
BURT FRISSELLE: Growing up, I was a big fan of the Trans-Am Series. Watching him drive those cars, he was just phenomenal driver, and it was a really cool series. To be able to drive for the second time this year with a childhood hero is awesome. Earlier this year, I got to drive with Al Unser Jr. At the end of the year, I never thought I would be driving with Tommy Kendall. It's cool for me to be driving with a guy I grew up watching as a kid and have some fun and learn what I can.
MODERATOR: Burt, Boris is driving the Daytona Prototype, which is ironically the same car you drove earlier in the season with your brother, Brian. You're going to be in a Pontiac GTO GT car, the car that Boris won with at Phoenix. A lot of parallels here, talk about going from the Daytona Prototype into the GT car?
BURT FRISSELLE: The toughest thing about that is that you have to use your mirrors quite a bit in the GT cars. With them breathing down your necks, all of a sudden you have to play the game, you're not the aggressor. You're out there hoping that they go where you want them to, but that's not always the case. It's tricky learning traffic, but the cars themselves are just so well put together.
The Pacific Coast team such a great job with that Pontiac GTO and it's a great piece of equipment, and honestly I won't want to be in any other GT car other than that. In that aspect, it's awesome switching. You learn what your gears there are for when you drive those cars.
MODERATOR: Boris, any advice on that? You won here as we mentioned in June, but you've raced for many years BMWs in GT, where do you keep your eyes, one in front and one behind?
BORIS SAID: Burt hit it on the head. It does require a different driving style because you need your mirrors a lot. Most of the guys will work with you in traffic, but you can win or lose a lot of positions screwing yourself in traffic or coming in front of a prototype, a Max Angelelli guy who will stick his nose anywhere where you can get knocked flat or knocked off the road. It's definitely a different mind-set.
MODERATOR: You're running three races this weekend, probably not an issue, but how hard is it to shift gears, literally, from these cars?
BORIS SAID: It's not too hard. Like if you hit golf balls in the afternoon and then go hit baseballs in the batting cage, you just set your mind to different cars.
Driving a Daytona Prototype, I wish my Cup car could go off the esses like that, but they are different animals. They are just different.
Q</I>: You're going to be doing a lot of driving this weekend. What impact does that have on you physically and mentally?
BORIS SAID: Mentally it's good because I love driving. Physically, I don't think it's going to be so hard this week because I've never been to Watkins Glen where the temperature has been this nice and the weather forecast looks so good. I think I'll be pretty good this weekend.
Q</I>: Tommy, can you compare the difference in the driving and the handling of the car you're going to be driving as opposed to the Trans-Am cars you spent a lot of years in?
TOMMY KENDALL: I can't compare them because I haven't driven it yet. I was talking to Boris a little bit before you guys came on board and he said it's very similar to a Trans-Am car but with less power. The Trans-Am car weights have crept up over the years and they are both very similar. They're probably pretty close in tire size, so I imagine it will be a similar feel and grip level, but with a little bit less power.
It's kind of like a full-circle return for me. I started out; I guess my first time I raced at The Glen was 20 years ago, in a GTU car, a Mazda RX-7. That was before they went to the tube frame to that car was similar to what this is a steel unibody that's reinforced, stripped down and so forth. It's kind of a full-circle return. That also prepared me.
I spent the first three years of my career driving in the slower classes, and there's definitely an art to staying in your race and letting the traffic by. Some guys never figure it out and some guys do. You see it from both sides. When you're in the faster cars, there are certain guys that you know coming up, they will send you signals with their taillights, stuff like that. If they see you, they will go ahead.
Some guys think, 'Well, I can't let this guy by because it will mess up my race.' What happens if you don't play along with both classes is that you end up screwing each other up and you end up going slower as a result. I look forward to getting back in that rhythm as well.
Driving with Burt, I and Brian's father, Brad, raced right before I got started so I was familiar with the name and watched the boys literally since they started. I've been impressed with what I've seen so far and looking forward to sizing them up from the same car.
MODERATOR: Brad is sitting here with us now and we're delighted to have him here and acknowledge his championship accomplishments from the past.
Q</I>: I just wanted to say it will be good to see you behind the wheel Tommy. It was weird watching you walk through the garage at Infineon last month.
TOMMY KENDALL: Well, I actually came up to watch Boris. One of my friends Eric Johnson was working there and said to come and so I came up at the spur of the moment. It's cool to see Boris, they are doing an ambitious thing there with the No Fear car, trying to own their own car, but that's the way you've got to do it now in terms of a guy that's in his 40s, and as a road racer, the doors are not exactly swinging open for them. Boris was unlikely to come in where he came from, with a motocross background, running up to the top of motorsports. It will be fun to watch.
A friend of mine called me earlier this week and said 'Did you see the news Jeremy Mayfield got fired and they are putting Jimmy Spencer in?' I said, 'Really? You know you've fallen off the radar big time as a road racer when they put Jimmy Spencer in a car.' I found out later that it was Bill Elliott, and with the provisional, it makes a lot more sense. I said, 'It's time for TK to get back in the mix a little bit.' I was fortunate in the late 80s, '89,'90, to kind of open that door up. And once guys like Boris and (Scott) Pruett have crawled through it, I'm looking forward to getting geared up and getting back at it.
MODERATOR: When was the last time you raced competitively?
TOMMY KENDALL: The last race was September '04 in the Trans-Am finale at Laguna Seca.
I've enjoyed my break. I came out of retirement to do that season. I've been retired, but it's the last several years I've been open to doing something, but not really ready to put the effort in to make something happen. So it's kind of a funny place.
The only things that come along are one-offs, and one-offs are not something that I want to do because usually the car or team is not capable of running up front. I just accepted that until I was really ready to get back and start hustling, I'm probably not going to do it and I'm fine with it.
It bothers Paul Tracy, than it bothered me. He said, 'You need to be out there.' I said, 'No, I don't.' He said, 'You have to prove yourself. You're only as good as your last race.' In my last race, I sat on the pole, led every lap and won. He said, 'Well, that was two years ago.' Like I said, it bothered him a lot more than it did me, but I'm rested up and ready to get back at it. So it will be fun.
It's nice when I go out and people miss me racing. It makes you feel good that they appreciated what you did back in the day. And it's funny, I remember when I was in the Frisselle brothers' shoes where I was the new youngest guy around, and that's not the case anymore. I'm turning 40 in October and now it's a different perspective. I'm just as competitive as I was in terms that I wanted to win, but it's a lot more relaxed and I enjoy it a lot more.
Q</I>: Boris, a little bit ago you kind of made light and joked about switching among three different cars, three different races this weekend. But there are a lot of differences with power bands and all that sort of thing. How do you keep it all straight in your mind, do you just drive by feel all the time or what do you do there?
BORIS SAID: You just know. You know that you can brake at the 3-marker in the Daytona Prototype and you brake at the 5-marker in the Cup and you brake at the 450-marker in the Busch cars. You just know in your head. At Sears Point the last few years, I've done all three races and every car, whether it's Trans-Am, NEXTEL Cup, you drive them different. I've done it my whole career, so it doesn't really seem like a big deal to me to be honest with you.
Q</I>: So it's more because of the experience that you have that it's just become easier for you to do?
BORIS SAID: The hardest thing to do is weekends like that. Tomorrow, I'm in the car pretty much from 11:30 until after we race the Daytona Prototype. The hardest thing really is getting to drivers meetings, changing into the right uniform and to eat; eating enough through the day and not getting really hungry and that's the hardest thing.
The media stuff around the NEXTEL Cup, it's a big schedule. There's a lot of stuff that you have to do. Being a team owner, you want to do the best for your team so you want to try to get it all in. That's the busiest part of it. Once you're in the car driving, that's the easy part.
TOMMY KENDALL: Did you buy Tony Stewart a mood ring to see how he's doing this weekend?
BORIS SAID: No. We had a long talk after the race. We're friends now. I was at Greg Zipadelli's house the other night for a baby shower, and we're all good. I just have to remind him that I'm not in this for the Chase and I'm not trying to get into the Chase. So he might want to remember that when we're around each other the next time.
TOMMY KENDALL: Have you worked out an energy drink formulation with Prozac? Is that correct?
BORIS SAID: (Laughter). Tony is a good guy; he's just a hot head like I am. It's an emotional sport and he got mad at Infineon at something that happened to him, nothing I did to him and he took it out on me. I can understand that. But we settled our differences after the race. We're all good.
Q</I>: You took a pretty good hit at Indy. Any residual from that or did you absorb it pretty well?
BORIS SAID: It was a big hit. I missed a softball game, which was too bad. I had an immediate headache right after it and my crew chief came out to the car and I opened my eyes and watched both rear springs rolling down the track. I thought, 'Well, it doesn't look good with two rear springs rolling down the straightaway.' It was unfortunate.
We knew Indy was going to be the toughest hurdle we had to make the race because a lot of good cars went home. I feel good about making it but disappointed we got into an altercation with Reed Sorenson earlier in the race that ended our race, but that's just racing.
MODERATOR: Is that car that you plan to run here or do you have your car already set for this race?
BORIS SAID: The Indy Car is a completely different car than the road race car. We might take it to -- we might go to New Hampshire. We already got a rear clip put back on that car and it will be all together in the next couple weeks.
MODERATOR: Tommy, obviously you're going to be driving the GTO coming up and Burt is driving the Daytona Prototype. Boris you've raced in them, I don't know who is taller. Paul Tracy has also raced in the Daytona Prototypes and he's liked them. Any talk of it, have you even thought that far?
TOMMY KENDALL: Yeah, I've been following it for a long time. Again, I haven't really been in a mind-set where I wanted to go out and hustle for something, but I dig the racing. I think they have got 30 prototypes now, something like that, and you know, my heart was -- I really like the single driver sprint formats, but one of the things I like about it is the intensity and even though it's two-driver endurance with that many evenly-matched cars.
Daytona Prototypes, the intensity there, looks to be way up. I don't think I'd have too much trouble. I think Bergmeister is a good size. There's definitely a way to get in one. It would be hard for me to show up with my helmet at a race and hop in. You'd have to do some fitting ahead of time and so forth.
I've talked to a number of people. There was a couple people over the years that have approached me that were trying to put programs together and for one reason or another, nothing has happened. I'm about ready, instead of just waiting for the phone to ring, I'm about ready to see if I can't put something together myself.
I look forward to getting through these two races, I'd like to get a good result for the Ironclad folks and just see where it goes, you know, get back in the mix. It's funny, now everybody looks at me that I'm a TV guy, I have my show on SPEED which is fun, but you're definitely out of their mind-set when it comes to looking for drivers. And that's the way it ought to be. Guys that are out there every week humping it, getting the first look, and now it's just a matter of getting back into the mix.