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He Bounces Back After Suspension

Boris Said to drive at Fontana after being blocked from Trans-Am series.

June 07, 2003|Shav Glick | Times Staff Writer

Boris Said won the Trans-Am race at the Long Beach Grand Prix last April, defending his series championship, but then he was suspended for 45 days for purportedly making private statements critical of Trans-Am officials.

That might have sidelined most competitors, but not the busy and versatile Said, a 6-foot 4-inch driver from Carlsbad who is one of the premier road racers in America. He and team owner Mike Davis jumped to the rival Grand American sports car series and entered the ACS Express-sponsored Ford Mustang in Sunday's Grand American 400 against other Grand Touring cars and the newly established Daytona prototype class on California Speedway's 2.82-mile, 21-turn road course. Last week, he was in Germany driving in a 24-hour race at Nurburgring, doing fine until he crashed at 4 a.m. In two weeks, he will attempt a marathon at Infineon Speedway at Sears Point, driving in a Southwest series stock car race Saturday, followed by a Winston Cup and Trans-Am doubleheader Sunday.

Just because he is keeping busy doesn't mean that Said, 40, isn't bitter over his dispute with the Trans-Am hierarchy, particularly Terry Dale, the series chief steward. "I have been put in a position where I can't say a thing without being suspended or fined or both," Said said.

In addition to the 45-day suspension, Said was fined $7,500 and an earlier fine of $3,000 that had been suspended was reinstated.

"It all started before the first race when I said the Mustangs didn't get a fair break in the rules," he said, "that all I wanted was an even break with other cars."

That caused the first probation and fine, even though Trans-Am officials later made aerodynamic changes that Said had suggested.

"Before the race at Long Beach, the second one in the series, I went to Terry Dale and asked what I could and could not say about the series, and all he would say was, 'If it doesn't sound good, don't say it.' Now, what does that mean?

"Shortly after that, some things I said in private to some friends showed up on a Web site and got picked up by some media and the next thing I knew I was set down for 45 days."

Said says he won't sue: "I love the Trans-Am and for years I've given positive interviews about the series. Everyone knows I don't get along with [series owner and former champion] Paul Gentilozzi, but I think he is the best man to lead Trans-Am.... I can't believe he has had a hand in this. He's too smart a businessman to kick out his defending champion."

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