Layne Riggs began his season with the goal of running 10 cherry-picked races, making memories with his family and lounging at the beach in the North Carolina sun.
At the end of year, the 20-year-old is one for three.
Riggs spent most of his time at race tracks with his dad, former NASCAR driver Scott Riggs, checking off nearly 60 races over the course of the season — including CARS Tour starts, local late model events and even a few NASCAR Truck Series races.
The highlight of his year came in September when he became the youngest NASCAR Advance Auto Parts Weekly Series champion in series history. Again, not part of the plan, but a welcome addition to his growing résumé. Riggs kickstarted his year during the early spring at South Boston (Va.) Speedway.
“We went to South Boston, my local NASCAR home track, and said, ‘Hey, let’s run a couple races to just see how we do,’” Riggs said. “We showed up and won the first two races off the bat, first day.”
After returning the next weekend and collecting another pair of victories, Riggs was staring down an opportunity he knew he’d be “dumb for not trying to chase.” With that, he said goodbye to potential beach time and set his sights on the national title.
It has taken years of building for Riggs to reach this point in his career.
While he’s always had an affinity for racing, it wasn’t a path his father was anxious for him to pursue.
“Dad didn’t want me to be a race car driver, he tried to deter me away from that because he knew how hard of a life it was,” Riggs said. “He bought me baseballs, basketballs, golf clubs, a boomerang — any other sport-related thing he could think of.”
But eventually, young Riggs was gifted something with wheels and an engine.
All it took was a ride on his new dirt bike and “I was hooked,” he said. He transitioned from a dirt bike to go-karts and finally got behind the wheel of a race car when his mom bought him his first late model. Once Scott Riggs realized that his son was determined to make his way up the racing ladder, he offered his full support.
Riggs spent several years competing full time in the CARS Tour, but taking on the NASCAR weekly series was new for him and his dad this year. The father-son duo experienced the ups and downs of late model racing as they’ve managed their own team with the help of a few volunteers.
“He plays a lot of different roles, he’s not just the car guy. He’s dad when I have a problem with school and personal problems. At the same time, I’ve got to call him and he’s got to be my crew chief, we’ve got to talk setup and plans for the weekend,” Riggs said fondly.
Riggs is enrolled as a third-year mechanical engineering student at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte, which is located about two hours from the race shop. The distance has been difficult logistically, leaving Scott Riggs to carry a majority of the load while his son focuses on his studies. As Riggs said, he stays in the books during the week and meets dad at the race track on the weekends.
Despite the challenges, the two have found a winning solution.
Under his dad’s guidance, Riggs collected 16 victories, 30 top-five efforts and 38 top-10 finishes in 43 starts.
Through their travels — which stretched from South Boston Speedway to Hickory (N.C.) Motor Speedway to Motor Mile (Va.) Speedway — Riggs made key contacts that allowed him to drive the No. 62 Toyota Tundra for Halmar Friesen Racing three times in NASCAR Truck Series competition.
His hope is to secure a full-time ride with HFR in the Truck Series, which ironically, is now a development his dad would welcome.
“My dad says very adamantly that he’s ready to turn me over to a truck team and let them take the load from here on out. He’s gotten me as far as he could get me,” Riggs said. “He’s really put his heart and soul into it.”
During his 10-year career in the NASCAR Cup Series, Scott Riggs collected four top-five finishes and 16 top-10 finishes. The elder Riggs also boasts four NASCAR Xfinity Series triumphs and five Truck Series wins. Just over a decade after his retirement, his son is knocking on the same door Scott once walked through.
“I want to be a full-time NASCAR Cup Series driver and be a champion one day, hopefully,” Riggs said. “The big goal is just to be the one up there one day and I feel like all the hard work I’m putting in will get me there.”