5/5/1932 - 24/3/2002
Record updated 05-May-20
Bob Said started racing in 1952 in the USA but turned his attention to Europe where he raced with Maston Gregory. He raced in the American Grand Prix in 1959 at Sebring, driving Paul Emery's ancient Connaught. He lost everything in 1962 but rebuilt his fortune and took up winter sports, participating in the Winter Olympics in 1968 and 1972 in the bobsleigh event. He then became an Emmy award winning producer. He died of a heart attack while watching the OSCARs on TV.
Born in New York of Syrian-Russian parents in 1932 Named Boris by his mother. He first appears in the Racing record books in 1952, under the name of 'Bob' Said, at the 12 hours of Vero Beach in a Cisitalia GS Fiat and at the Seneca Cup, Watkins Glen, where he finished 8th, all be it a lap down to race winner John Fitch in a C-Type Jaguar.
The following year he raced in the Sebring 12 hours. He then travelled to Europe to compete in the 3 hour race at Rouen driving an Osca to victory, making of him the first American born driver cross the Atlantic and win in Europe after the war.
While still competing in the States he liked the life in Italy and he continued racing in Europe for two seasons, winning the Anerley Trophy in 1953 with the OSCA.
In 1954 he bought a Ferrari 500 Mondial Spider S1 Scaglietti (0454MD). With this car he took second place in the Trullo d'Oro at Castellana before moving on to Circuito di Senigallia in early August. The following week he raced it in the International Sports Car Race at Zandvoort and then on to the Coppa d'Oro of Sicilia. He then took it to Ireland in September where he teamed up with Maston Gregory in the Tourist Trophy race at Dundrod (Ireland) finishing second in class (9th overall).
The following year in 1955 he had a mishap at Sebring when was in a collision with an ambulance when running second with his Ferrari 750 Monza (0494M), which he was driving with Masten Gregory. He had also entered his Ferrari 500 Mondial (0454MD) but the car was not qualified. Then weeks later the 750 Monza caught fire during a race at Nassau. He finished second in the Bari GP on the 15th of May and took a couple of second place finishes at the Circuito di Senigallia and at Syracuse.
During 1955 he set some speed records on the sands of Daytona Beach including a record of 170.5 mph (272 km/h ) with the Bardahl-Ferrari and the Ferrari 750 Monza. The Bardahl-Ferrari came about when Nino Farina, with sponsorship supplied by the Bardahl Oil Company's office in Florence, Italy, commissioned Kurtis to build a special Indy-style roadster chassis that would be matched with a Ferrari engine, thus combining the best of both worlds. A Kurtis KK500D chassis was thus shipped to Italy where the Ferrari factory installed an inline 4.4-liter, six-cylinder, Type 121 engine. However Farina never got to take race it as he was left waiting in line when the last day of qualifying was rained out.
He appeared for one race in 1956 at Aintree in a Ferrari 735 Monza (0444MD) before briefly dropped out of racing. Said moved to California where he invested one hundred thousand dollars of his inheritance in the real estate, which he promptly lost. He then moved to Montana where he bought a Thorium mine. Thorium is a radioactive element, that was much in demand as it served as a source of nuclear energy and was used in vacuum tubes and various alloys. This enabled him to once again afford his expensive hobbies that also included big game hunting.
Said thus returned to the tracks late in 1957, winning his class at Nassau with the Ferrari 750 Monza, which he nicknamed Mongoose. Said proposed an all American Formula 1 team for the 1957 season, the cars to be powered by the Meyer-Drake Offy, however nothing came of this.
He owned the first Porsche Carrera convertible in the US, while maintaining a very close relationship with Luigi Chinetti. He raced at Sebring in 1958 in the Scuderia Central America entered Ferrari 500 Testa Rossa C but failed to finish due to brake problems. Bob entered the 1959 American Grand Prix at Sebring. He loved Sebring and the chance to drive a single seater at his favourite track was to good an opportunity to miss. To get an entry Bob called Alec Ulmann, the organizer, who was also a friend of his mother. He felt that he had nothing to loose and in his phone call he recalled these old memories as well as the accident with the ambulance in 55, while implying more or less that this was Ulmann's fault. Ulmann agreed and told him that if he could find a car, he was in. Bob left again for Europe to test a Cooper-Alta and the TechMech Maserati, but ended up driving Paul Emery's ancient Connaught.
Bob tells the tale. Emery worked all night and said to me next morning, with his eyes red with tiredness: "It's ready". At the start I put my right foot to the floor and this thing took off like a rocket. I went like the a son of a whore and found myself six or seventh. I passed Harry Schell in his Cooper-Climax on the long straight which was the main runway of the Sebring aerodrome and I will never forget the look of surprise on his face. Though when I wanted to turn in at the end of the straight line, the back of the car passed me and I spun off. I couldn't get going again and walked back. I didn't even made single a corner!
It was Connaught's last ever Grand Prix start.
After the US GP he continued to race in minor events until 1962, when, 'dead broke', he borrowed $2,600 to venture into property speculation once more. This time his gamble paid off and within two years he had made a million dollars. He returned to his beloved Sebring one last time in 1966 with Ray Cuomo in a Cobra finishing 15th.
Then at about thirty years of age, Bob embraced another sport, bobsleigh, becoming part of the American Olympic team at the 1968 Games in Grenoble, France and the 1972 Games in Sapporo, Japan.
This amazing man then turned to the cinema becoming a producer and winning an Emmy. He never got to see his last project, a film called The Mystery of the Goddess. A popular attendee of historic festivals he was involved in the motor sport world until his death, from a heart attack, whilst watching the Oscars on TV. His son Boris Jr continues the family tradition racing in Trans-Am, AMLS and NASCAR with considerable success.