The town of Bahama, North Carolina, is no stranger to seeing the Riggs family enjoy success behind the wheel.
During the late 1990s, residents from the town would flock to Orange County Speedway to see Scott Riggs win one race after another, success that helped him progress through the ranks to become a full-time driver in the NASCAR Cup Series.
A couple decades later, Scott’s son Layne Riggs finds himself on a similar path toward the top divisions of NASCAR as he pursues a NASCAR Advance Auto Parts Weekly Series championship with the family-owned operation.
With four wins at South Boston Speedway already to his name this year, Layne Riggs is optimistic he can bring a national championship back home to Bahama and earn the breakthrough he needs to sign on with a major organization as a development driver.
“We wanted to run a little bit of South Boston [Speedway] at the beginning of the year, but with the success coming so quickly, it was a no-brainer to try for the national championship,” the 19-year-old Riggs said. “Past champions have told me I’ve got a really good shot at it this year, and this is also a good opportunity for me to get my name out there more.”
FLORACING: Follow the action at South Boston all season
When Riggs strapped into a Late Model Stock for the first time at the age of 14, he genuinely believed that hard work would yield a NASCAR ride after a few years.
Although Riggs has yet to break out of the Late Model Stock ranks, he has made the most of his circumstances by traveling to several tracks around the southeast, where he has gained valuable knowledge on conserving equipment and utilizing patience against the seasoned veterans.
Riggs’ persistence has enabled him to earn victories over Weekly Series champions like Josh Berry, Peyton Sellers and Lee Pulliam. His accomplishments in a Late Model Stock also include a win in the prestigious Rodney Cook Classic at Ace Speedway in 2019.
Learning from the likes of Berry, Sellers, Pulliam and many others in the region has been invaluable for Riggs, who hopes all the knowledge and experience obtained over the past few years translates to a national championship.
“I’ve raced with the best and beaten the best,” he said. “Where we are right now, we’re one of the best. My racing career has been great because of all the competitors I’ve raced against. They’ve taught me a lot about my race craft and built up my confidence, so now I have to apply it and create my own legacy.”
Riggs has enjoyed his on-track success despite his family not having the resources and funding of other major Late Model Stock operations.
Scott Riggs did everything possible to make sure his son was in the best possible position to excel from the beginning. Along with exercising countless hours on the cars, Scott put a heavy emphasis on big picture racing with Layne so his son would understand not to race others aggressively every lap.
As the years have progressed, Scott has watched Layne gradually mature into a well-rounded competitor who knows how to get the most out of his equipment by constantly providing feedback, observing how the racing line evolves and being actively involved with preparing efficient setups.
Scott knows Layne can win in any car he climbs into, and the father is determined to help his son accomplish his goal of one day reaching NASCAR — even as Layne’s schedule on and off the track gets busier each year.
“It’s just us racing against guys who make their living this way,” Scott Riggs said. “I know Layne’s got a lot of schoolwork on his plate these days in Charlotte trying to get a mechanical engineering degree. During the work week, this is pretty much myself and volunteers, some of which were with me when I was racing Late Models. We’re very fortunate to have so many people who want to help us.”
Layne Riggs believes the right opportunity to move up to the ARCA Menards Series or NASCAR Camping World Truck Series is out there, which is why he is going all in to pursue the Weekly Series national championship.
RACING REFERENCE: Career stats for Layne Riggs
Points in the national championship come down to car counts, with the minimum being 16 cars for a full allotment. To stay in contention, Riggs plans to visit tracks in the region where car counts range from the minimum number to around 25 competitors.
South Boston and Dominion Raceway check those boxes. Along with averaging 20 cars a night, each facility regularly attracts the best Late Model Stock drivers in Virginia, including the defending national champion in Sellers.
Riggs knew winning races at South Boston and Dominion would not be an easy feat, but he feels he and Scott have developed setups that will allow him to continue the momentum from his strong start to the 2022 season.
“The pavement is very similar between South Boston and Dominion,” Layne Riggs said. “Peyton Sellers has always run good at high grip tracks, but I feel like we’ve hit on something where we’ll be able to do the same. Dominion, South Boston and Motor Mile all have really smooth asphalt, and I can definitely see why they have high car counts.”
Despite his enjoyment for both tracks, Riggs’ championship pursuit hit a snag during his first race at Dominion on Apr. 23. After finishing sixth in the first 60-lap feature, he was involved in an early crash during the second race and had to settle for 12th, all while Sellers swept the evening.
The last thing Riggs wanted was to give Sellers a margin of error to utilize through the summer. With weekly competitors all around the country beginning to accumulate wins at their home tracks, Riggs knows he will have to be nearly perfect to stay within striking distance.
Scott Riggs is confident Layne can make up that lost ground to Sellers through the upcoming months, adding that someone as committed and appreciative as his son will find success long after he moves on from the family-owned team that helped launch his career.
“It’s very rewarding that we’re able to compete with the high-caliber teams,” Scott Riggs said. “At the same time, it’s tough on our program because of the time, money, energy and personnel we spend. We have to rob Peter to pay Paul in order to give [Layne] a competitive car, but the strongest aspect of our team is the man behind the wheel.”
There are many occasions when Layne Riggs feels like a veteran in the industry even though he is one month shy of his 20th birthday.
From racing the high banks at Bristol Motor Speedway to tangling with Sellers and Bubba Pollard for the win at Martinsville Speedway, Riggs has already experienced so much in his brief time in Late Model Stocks while gaining a fanbase that once watched his father make a name for himself.
Adding a national championship to his resume would only be another chapter in Layne’s eventful career, but one that could carry an extra amount of significance when it comes to following in his father’s footsteps and one day racing in the Cup Series.
“Everyone champion you look at is someone you can consider a legend in short track racing,” Riggs said. “I think I’ll be the youngest one if I’m able to do it this year. That’s nothing but good press and it would be great for a sponsorship opportunity.”
A long season is ahead for Riggs as he battles Sellers across the southeast, but many in the industry, along with the town of Bahama, will be watching to see whether the second-generation Riggs can join an elite of national champions.