Scratch the surface of nearly any racing driver and you will find that they caught the racing bug at an early age. But few can claim to have become interested in the sport and the hobby as far back as has Meisam Taheri. Back in his native Iran, before he could even walk or for that matter talk much, Sam was already taking cars apart and seeing what makes them tick. While that may have been a source of pride and amusement to his elders, there was also some consternation. Putting it all back together is a challenge even for adults. The Taheri home must have been a sight of scattered gearbox and engine parts as an important apprenticeship had begun.
It was that mechanical tinkering that set young Sam on his way and by age 10, long before the authorities should be told, he was driving the cars that he had already learned much about. Some balance was restored and Sam not only finished his primary and secondary schooling but went on to earn a university degree in computer science. Family and professional duties brought him to the UAE. Just as Sam was reaching adulthood the motor sport scene in the country was also starting to mature.
Early in his twenties, Meisam Taheri’s racing career had begun. For several years he enjoyed considerable success with the burgeoning karting scene. A most important motor sport event was coming to Dubai in early 2006, the country’s first 24-hour race. All of the local clubs and enthusiasts were rounded up to help stage the show and Sam volunteered his services as a marshal for that first edition. The experience sold him and now his passion turned to proper auto racing.
For the next several seasons Sam embarked on a program that included drives in Toyotas, BMWs, and Radicals. He also continued karting, amassing an excellent tally of results in both sprint and endurance events. It was during the 2015 season that it all kicked into high gear. Mr. Taheri raced in the ultra-competitive spec series for the Toyota GT86 Cup cars, recording several podium finishes in the sprint events. He also raced in the UAE national championship for touring and GT cars, the NGK Series. This culminated with an excellent seventh place overall in the 3 Hour endurance round of the series. Sam expanded his C. V. with a turn in the 10 Hours of Dubai for the Volkswagen based Fun Cup series. Next came a set of outings with a Radical in the Radical Cup Middle East and then some races in another prototype, the CN class Wolf. With this car Taheri won the CN2 class at the 2015 Gulf 12 Hours in Abu Dhabi. He was less successful at his European debut when the Wolf crashed during qualifying for the Rome 6 Hours. He persevered and was a regular in the Wolf with the Bas Koeten team at the Zandvoort based Winter Endurance Championship.
Ten years after officiating at the first Dubai 24 Hours, Taheri returned again to the same race, this time as a driver in the No. 225 BMW M3 of Sorg Rennsport. The effort ended with a fine fifth on class. He spent all of last season competing in various BMWs for several teams across a variety of races and series in Europe. They included starts with Hofor Racing in the Rundstrecken Challenge Nürburgring on the daunting Nordschleife circuit as well as a tough run in the Belcar Zolder 24 Hours. But it was with Creventic’s International Endurance Series that Sam seems to have found a home.
Following up on the Dubai success he raced with Martin Kroll and Bernd Küpper in their BMW M3 at the Mugello 12 Hours—ending in a grand class victory. He took on a new challenge at Zandvoort, co-driving the 991 class Porsche Cup car of MSG Motorsport, although they went out after an accident halfway through the race. He remained with MSG for the Paul Ricard 24 Hours and was rewarded with an excellent second place finish. Sam did double duty at the Barcelona 24 Hours, first driving the Porsche again before switching to Cor Euser’s BMW. Sadly, neither car made it to the end.
All that success, trial, and tribulation have only whetted his appetite. Look for this 37-year old to achieve even more in 2017. Taheri has taken to heart the responsibility of being the only Iranian to currently race in major international series and the first to score victories and podium finishes abroad. Already early in his career he had advanced to being an instructor at both Dubai and Yas Marina and used the opportunity to advance the careers of drivers not only from the UAE but also young prodigies from his homeland across the Gulf. Watching them develop their skills has given Sam the greatest pride. In time, we will likely see Meisam Taheri help bring endurance racing to Tehran, Shiraz, or Mashhad as our sport continues to grow its international presence.