BMW’s Ultimate Driving Machine is Boris Said!
In a world of racecar drivers as exciting as vanilla ice cream and decaf coffee, BMW’s Boris Said is an extra large serving of Chunky Monkey washed down with a double shot of espresso. When other drivers are talking “sponsor speak” or, more likely, holding their tongues, Boris seems to be able to say and do things that will, let’s say, get your attention. Like the day a few years ago when I first met Boris at Lime Rock Park’s Memorial Day media event. By virtue of comparable height, he was co-driving a PTG M3 that weekend with the legendary Hans Stuck. The other PTG cars were being co-driven by P. D. Cunningham, Brian Cunningham, Mark Simo and Johannes van Overbeek. At the noon press conference, Boris declared that he and Hans were the “Short drivers Suck” racing team. His joking and good humor was infectious and helped keep the other scribblers attending the event laughing and focused on the activities of the PTG Team - no small feat.
After lunch, to give the journalists a racer’s eye view of the track, Lime Rock offered on-track “thrill rides”. You had a choice: hot laps in the Skip Barber Racing School Dodge Vipers, driven by their instructors or in racecars specially equipped with passenger seats driven by the pros. Being a Certified Bimmerhead, I said, “Screw the Viper,” I wanted a ride in the PTG M3 lightweight. Joy of joys, my pilot was Boris Said. As I jumped into the car, I was surprised to see that he was wearing a cheap looking, open face helmet (think Jack Nicholson in Easy Rider) – better to see his patented huge grin plastered on his face! Maybe it was his good-natured jab at short drivers or maybe it was his wonderful flash of white teeth, but as I buckled up my belts I bragged fateful words: “You can’t scare me.” Boris just said “Ha!” and snicked the lever into first. Just then, I happened to look over my shoulder and saw a Viper coming down the main straight going full tilt boogie. We, on the other hand, were stationary and in pit lane. As my words were still echoing inside the stark interior of the M3, Boris was already blasting through the gears. In a tick, Boris had powered us out of pit lane and onto the track sliding, drifting, SCREAMING, into Big Bend – Lime Rock-speak for turn one. To my utter amazement, we beat the Viper to the corner. By a lot! By a whole lot!!
Somehow, we got through Big Bend without braking or even lifting and headed toward the Esses; a quick, left right slalom onto no-name straight. By now, my head was jerking from side to side from the tremendous g-forces generated by the grippy slicks and Boris’ spectacular car control. I yelled over the roar of the un-muffled engine, “How many g’s?” Boris said, “2 something, I don’t know, but THAT’s not the cool part…(big smile here) I’ll tell you when we’re gonna do the cool part.” We got through no-name and blasted up the climbing turn, again without lifting. I felt the whole car get light as we crested the hill and wished I hadn’t had the extra helping of BBQ for lunch. He kept accelerating as we approached West Bend and, with barely a whisper of a lift of the throttle, we went through that corner faster than I have ever gone in 30 years of driving around Lime Rock. We then attacked the diving turn, all four corners clawing, scrambling, and begging for every bit of traction. I managed to glance over at Boris and, to my amazement, he had a look of complete relaxation on his face. We did three more laps like that, every one as quick, every one as smooth, passing everything on the track. But as fast as we were going, I began to realize that he was probably only going 9/10s, seeing as this was for fun, the race for the money came on Memorial Day (a race he and Stuck won, I must add). After we came down the diving turn on our last lap, Boris yelled, “Hey! This is the cool part,” and with that he nailed the brakes as hard as he could. It was like we hit a wall! My eyeballs nearly popped out of my head and hit the windshield. It was like Smoking Joe punched me in the solar plexus. (You get the picture?)
Boris looked over at me, smiling (if possible) even more now than usual. As we coasted into pit lane and said, “That’s the cool part, good brakes. Real good brakes.”
So even if he didn’t scare me, he did get my attention. OK, I wasn’t THAT scared.