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May 20, 2021

Speed over shuffleboard: Boris Said, 58, shakes off retirement for COTA run with MBM

Jared C. Tilton | Getty Images
Jared C. Tilton
Getty Images

Four years ago, Boris Said was set to retire after what he deemed to be his final NASCAR Cup Series race at Watkins Glen International. Since then, he has had a change of heart.

This weekend, Said, now 58 years old, will attempt to qualify MBM Motorsports’ No. 13 car for the inaugural Xfinity Series race at Circuit of The Americas, an event Said wasn’t expecting to compete in until a handful of days ago.

RELATED: COTA weekend schedule | Said among entry list highlights

“I race Trans-Am with Pancho Weaver and he lives next door to Carl Long, and he said, ‘Man, he’d really like some help to get the car into the race. He wanted to know if you’d be interested in doing it,'” Said told “I retired in (2017), but I miss it, to tell you the truth. There’s nothing that replaces racing.”

This weekend, Said has his chance to be back on the race track powering a 3,200-pound car into heavy braking zones. Since 2017, he noted there haven’t been any additional opportunities to race in NASCAR, even if he had considered it.

For that reason alone, MBM didn’t need to sell Said very hard on the idea of being the wheelman of the No. 13 car at COTA.

“It’s like the old days, pretty much anybody that called me to drive, I always said, ‘OK, I’ll give it a shot,'” Said said. “I figure I might as well. I’m in good shape, you never know, there’s a 1-in-40 chance you could do something pretty good.”

Said won’t be fitted for the No. 13 car until just before Friday’s practice. He told the team to put a larger seat in the car for his taller frame and make sure it’s as low and far back as it can go. After that, he’ll just deal with whatever he’s given.

Currently, MBM’s No. 13 entry sits 40th in the owner standings, with a best finish this season of 21st at Homestead-Miami Speedway. Getting the car into the race is Said’s first goal. Everything else is gravy.

MORE: Xfinity Series standings

Originally, David Starr was set to drive the car, but the team – and sponsor Whataburger – decided it would be best to put a road-course specialist in the seat; that way, it can potentially build enough points to make other races this season.

“David Starr was set to drive our (No.) 13 Whataburger Toyota, however, with NASCAR allowing Cup drivers to run in Xfinity this year and only 36 starters, we had to make a change,” MBM said in a Facebook post. “David and I looked at the business side of our race team, realizing we needed to try to give ourselves the best option to be in the race, and then running well enough to keep the points high enough to be able to go to Mid-Ohio (Sports Car Course) and future races.”

Said competed part time in the NASCAR Cup Series from 1998-2017, primarily focusing on road courses. He has one victory in each the Xfinity Series and the Camping World Trucks Series — his 2010 Xfinity win at Circuit Gilles Villeneuve in Canada coming 12 years after his Truck triumph at Sonoma Raceway in California.

With the Xfinity Series having five of its next 11 races held on road courses, Said thinks it’s possible he returns at some point this season. As of now, he said there have been no further discussions.

“I’ve raced for 35 years and when you quit, you don’t want to give it up and you realize how much you miss it,” he said. “NASCAR is such an awesome sport. The feeling of driving a car on the edge is something that’s hard to replace. I know I’m 58 years old, so I should just get over it and say, ‘I’m just going to play shuffleboard and stuff,’ but I can’t let go. I don’t really know how to explain it other than I love the sport and it’s hard to give it up.

“In racing, you’re only as good as your last race, so first I have to get (the car) into the show and second I need to have a good run. If I get a good run and if it were Carl Long or somebody else, I would definitely think about it and chances are I would say yes.”

Since last competing in NASCAR, Said has geared a lot of his focus toward his BMW and Volkswagen car dealerships. On June 6, he will celebrate his first dealership’s 10-year anniversary of being open. Said has also been keeping up with an ownership stake in Trust Me Vodka, a California-based spirits company. Plus, his K1 Speed indoor go-kart track franchise is up to 35 locations.

Said continues to race Trans Am cars, most recently notching his 18th series win at Road Atlanta at the end of March. Last November, he dominated another Trans Am event at COTA en route to victory, and he has also competed at the Austin, Texas, road course in prototypes, vintage racing and sports cars.

But even with the added experience, he’s not certain that gives him an advantage for this weekend.

“These guys are the best in the business and they’ll pick it up pretty quick,” he said. “It doesn’t take them long to learn a new track, and I’m sure a lot of them have been on the simulator. I’m still going to drive it at 10 tenths the whole time and have fun. I just can’t wait to get out there and drive it.”

As for what’s next for Said, he hopes he can stick around for a few years and ultimately team up with his son, Boris Said Jr. — who recently began racing in SCCA (Sports Car Club of America) — for a Rolex 24 effort at Daytona International Speedway’s road course.

But Said isn’t ready to hang up the helmet just yet.

“I guess one day you’ll know it’s time,” he said. “I thought it was and I was OK with it for a little while, but you watch it on TV and you just miss it. In NASCAR, even though you’re not battling for the win you can have great battles for 15th, 20th, 25th and you’re driving your heart out. It’s still fulfilling personally, but you have to set some different goals where you’re not going there to win the race, but you’re going there to do the best you can.”