Said wins both races at Bodine Bobsled Challenge
LAKE PLACID, N.Y. -- It must be genetic.
Road race expert Boris Said proved to be the master of Mount Van Hoevenberg again on Saturday, winning both races in the third annual Bodine Bobsled Challenge.
In the three years this unique event featuring race car drivers on ice has been run, Said has won five of six races, finishing second to Kevin Lepage the only time he didn't take the gold.
Said's late father, Bob, drove in the 1968 and 1972 Winter Olympics for the U.S. bobsled team and was one of the sport's great promoters in his heyday. Boris just seems to be following in his dad's footsteps in his own special way.
"I just think it's in my genes," Said said after besting NHRA Top Fuel driver Morgan Lucas in Saturday's second race by more than a second. "My dad left when I was 6 and I never saw him again, and I ended up doing the same things he did. I guess it's like when they breed fast horses. Maybe it's the same thing. I don't know."
Former NASCAR driver Geoff Bodine created the Bo-Dyn Bobsled Project Inc. after watching the U.S. team race in the 1992 Albertville Games in European-built sleds. Bodine wanted to help make sure U.S. sleds would be made in America, and his efforts have helped provide sled designs involving NASCAR technology.
Bodine created the Bobsled Challenge, which was first run in January 2006, to raise money and awareness for the U.S. team, and Said has been an eager supporter.
"I believe in the cause, and I'm really patriotic," Said said. "It's just a great cause. To see these young athletes that work so hard 365 days a year, to see them winning medals is just an awesome deal, and it goes largely unnoticed by the American public."
In the first race, Said finished 0.01 behind Whelen Southern Modified Tour champ L.W. Miller on the first of two runs, giving the 15-sled field a brief glimmer of hope.
"I was getting bummed out," Miller said. "I thought he had us."
"It ain't over yet," Said said. "It's only half the race."
After the first 13 drivers made their second runs over the tricky 17-curve layout, it became a two-man race for the top spot. Said went next and nearly lost it in the chicane, a straightaway that comes up quickly after Curve 14, a hard right-hander that is the most difficult stretch of the track.
Said's sled skidded almost completely sideways before he managed to get it pointed straight again, and he somehow managed to turn in the fastest run of the day by a wide margin. His time of 50.53 seconds was nearly three-quarters of a second faster than Miller's second run and more than a second faster than third-place finisher, NHRA pro stock drag racer Jeg Coughlin Jr.
The second race was billed as the NASCAR vs. NHRA Challenge, featuring five drivers from each sport chosen by Geoff Bodine. The final heat would feature the top NASCAR driver against the top NHRA driver, with the winner claiming the gold.
Before they even started racing again, though, there was an element of doom, even as a light snow began falling on the track.
"We ain't going to beat Boris," Craftsman Truck Series champ Ron Hornaday Jr. said.
Dragger Bob Vandergriff eliminated Coughlin before losing to Lucas in the NHRA finale. Former Craftsman Truck champ Todd Bodine bested Hornaday to set up a showdown with Said. Bodine finished his final run in 51.64 seconds just moments before Said came down in 51.53 to set up the showdown with Lucas.
"It's Boris. God help me," Lucas said as Said crossed the finish line. "He's just a natural. His dad raced. The gene pool was good to him. That guy can race anything."
"I was at least respectable against the master," said Todd Bodine, who announced Saturday that he was starting a similar event to help fund U.S. skeleton athletes and actually slid down the track on a skeleton sled. "Go get Morgan. Make us proud."
Said, who posted the fastest two-run time on Friday to win the pole, did exactly that. He finished in 50.99 seconds to Lucas's 52.06.
"That was a blowout," said Lucas, also a runner-up to Said last year. "I shouldn't even have started."
For the second straight year, New York State Army National Guardsmen served as brakemen, and they were elated.
"It's definitely one of the top-five intense things I've done," said Adam Barber of Queesnbury, N.Y., who returned from Iraq just two months ago. "This is pretty crazy stuff."
"It's pretty cool to have these guys riding in back of us," added Said. "I don't know if they're smart or stupid."
Copyright 2008 by The Associated Press
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