A Day in the Life



Think of the longest road trip you ever took: trekking across country in the family truckster, forcing down whatever drive-through food you could forage as you rolled down the endless highway. Think of the mental fatigue of staring down the same white lines for hours on end, each stretch of highway blending into the next.

Now imagine doing that for 24 hours, knowing that the moment separating victory and defeat could happen in the blink of an eye. Boris Said has lived it, over and over again.

“It’s a totally different animal from your typical racing,” he said.

Said is a veteran of several 24-hour endurance races, having achieved back-to-back victories in 24 Hours of Daytona in 1997 and 1998 as well as a win at the 24 Hours Nürburgring in 2005. While most of us chafe at the notion of driving all the way down William Hilton Parkway and off of or onto Hilton Head Island, Said has made his mark as a true road warrior.

“I drove for 16 hours in the 1998 24 Hours of Daytona,” he said. “I won that year in the GT class in a BMW m3.”

If that sounds crazy, the organizers of the race would agree, as the very next year they set a strict 14-hour limit. If a governing body had to step in and keep racers from pushing themselves to the limit, this is an endurance sport like no other. It’s an extreme test of a driver’s ability to stem off white-line fever while in the grips of a competition in which the tide could turn at any moment.

How much coffee does it take to stay behind the wheel that long? You’d be surprised. “None. It’s just pure adrenaline,” Said said.

Get a taste of this remarkable blend of white-knuckle competitive racing and gut-checking endurance at this year’s “Life for 24 Hours” exhibit, taking place Nov. 4-5 at the annual Hilton Head Island Motoring Festival & Concours d’Elegance.

Along with a panel discussion featuring Said, festivalgoers will get a chance to take a look at some of the tough-as-nails machines that have made history in the world of 24-hour racing.

A few standouts from the exhibit include a 2001 BMW and a Saleen — both driven by Said — as well as the legendary ’66 Corvette once owned by Roger Penske that competed in the very first 24 Hours of Daytona. Every car has a story, and this particular Vette’s is a doozy.

As the legend goes, the car was leading the GT class in the middle of the night when it slammed into a slower-moving Triumph, crumpling the front end. Risking disqualification due to a lack of headlights, the team improvised by strapping a pair of heavy-duty flashlights to the hood with duct tape.

The judges, satisfied with the homemade headlights, let the car back on the track. The Penske Corvette finished first in its class and 11th overall, and set a new GT record.