Race Weekend Central

Scott, Layne Riggs Continuing Family Legacy in NASCAR

Scott Riggs’ career in the ranks of NASCAR spanned more than 15 years and nearly 400 starts across the main three competitive divisions, stretching from 1999 to 2014 and featuring four Xfinity Series victories and five triumphs in Camping World Truck Series events.

Racing was clearly in the family’s blood, though, and son Layne Riggs made his Truck debut at Lucas Oil Indianapolis Raceway Park in late July in Halmar Friesen Racing’s No. 62. The 20-year-old finished seventh there in the series’ playoff opener, backing it up two weeks later with a top 20 at Richmond. More recently, he won the NASCAR Advance Auto Parts Weekly Series’ late model track championship at South Boston Speedway in the first weekend of September and still leads the 2022 points standings in that division.

Frontstretch‘s Adam Cheek caught up with both father and son at Richmond, where Layne finished 19th in his second-ever start and dad was part of the crew, tinkering with the truck before and after the race.

The elder Riggs and wife Jai bought Layne “basketballs, golf clubs, all the miniature stuff,” but the budding driver didn’t go for them; rather, his first dirt bike sparked his interest in racing and the parents gave him a go-kart at 3 years old.

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“The craziest thing about that,” Scott said, “I still got the video — when we first put him out there, he drives and he’s holding it wide open and he gets sideways. He just turns it and never lets off and straightens it out. We didn’t tell him that. We just told him, ‘you turn the steering wheel to go this way, you turn the steering wheel to go that way, that’s the gas, that’s the brake.’ That’s all we told him, and then he’s out there hanging it outside, standing in the gas, instinctive. That was the first time we looked at each other like, ‘holy shit, he just did that?'”

It wasn’t long before Layne was running against competition of his ilk.

“We took him to a little actual go-kart race, bought him a little kid kart to run,” Scott said. “So he goes out there, and at that time we’d already built him a go-kart track at the house. So we came to the racetrack, and the first race, he started dead last and won, drove all the way to the front and won. The second race he drove up […] and then something happened to the carburetor and he quit, so when it did that he said ‘this is no fun, spent all day here just to run for 10 minutes.'”

Riggs’ given name derives from dad Scott’s love for Seattle rock band Alice in Chains and their frontman Layne Staley, who passed away two months prior to Riggs’ birth, and mom Jai’s appreciation for bullrider Lane Frost.

Layne stacked up well against his competition, eventually graduating to a four-cylinder car. Dad Scott raced with some friends at their house.

“One of my buddies told my wife, they said, ‘if you don’t put him in something else you ought to be ashamed of yourself,'” he said. “She came back to me, she’s like you got to put him in in something. So we buy a little four-cylinder car, when he turned 10 we took him to the track after he made some laps in the pasture shifting and all that, and then we went to the racetrack.

“The very first race we went to, he qualified on the pole and finished second, I believe, the very first one, and then the next week he won. He won the championship in that little thing and then the next year we started in the four cylinders again, and then he turned 12. We bought him a late model and he ran a limited late model at Orange County [Speedway and] just took off.”

Things began to come together for a NASCAR appearance at Hickory Motor Speedway in 2021, where the elder Riggs ran into crew chief Tripp Bruce, a veteran atop the box with more than 200 Truck Series starts to his name. Bruce, currently with Stewart Friesen’s team, and Riggs got to talking and he was introduced to Layne, who swept both twin races that night in a late model.

Conversation picked up between the two parties and a deal came together, including some local sponsors to Riggs’ hometown of Bahama, North Carolina.

“I just made the commitment that we want to put this deal together,” Scott said. “[…] I sort of committed [funding] on my own, that I was going to do this — I’m gonna put the money up, we’re gonna go do it, and no matter what, I’m gonna pass the torch on here. As soon as I made that commitment, I had a late model sponsor come on and say, ‘I want to help, I want to be a part of that,’ because he’s pretty much branded as one of my guys. I want to be a part of that to see him go forward.”

Layne has been balancing his time in the Advance Auto Weekly Series with the truck starts.

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“That’s actually more hectic than this,” Scott said. “It seems like Layne’s a lot more calm and — I’m not gonna say more focused, but he’s a lot more at ease. I think his late model keeps so much stress on him to not only drive the car but also make the calls and make the correct calls of what track position and track condition is, and making sure that he makes the right call on any kind of change in practice, it’s going to be the right way to be in the race. Here, he doesn’t have to do that, he can just solely focus on driving the truck.”

The younger Riggs missed a Weekly Series event in favor of the Richmond Truck race.

“It’s tough sometimes having to do both […] and I know we’re gonna sacrifice some national points for that,” Layne said. “But I feel like being here, being seen, getting the iron hot and showing that we deserve to be here in this series is worth a little bit more than missing a late model race.

“[…] I’m glad that I get to be here and get my feet wet and learn […] [you] watch all these guys on TV every week and then you finally get to race against them and be out there with them. It’s really cool to be a part of, kind of surreal, but I’m super excited that I can do it and I can’t wait to see what the future holds.”

Incidentally, Layne’s first two Truck starts mirrored Scott’s first two Truck starts, 23 years later. The elder Riggs finished 19th and 23rd at IRP and Richmond, respectively, to begin his career, while Layne’s maiden pair of appearances came at the same tracks.

Son indicated he hoped to best his dad in the second race, as he did in the first, and best him he did. Layne took the checkered flag in seventh at IRP and 19th in the Commonwealth.

HFR’s main driver, three-time series winner Stewart Friesen, has also helped guide the 20-year-old and advised him during his starts.

“He’s given me a lot of advice,” Layne said. “[…] At IRP, we debriefed a lot and I think we got both of our trucks better because of it. So I think that was a really beneficial thing to have two drivers that really know what they’re talking about and know what they’re doing, and they have some experience to be able to build off each other. I think [having] two competitive trucks in the field each week will help this team as a whole.”

Scott’s role as a father has given him a new perspective on racing, where he both guides Layne but also allows his lineage to carve his own path via those around him.

“Man, wearing a hat, different hats, has been difficult,” Scott said. “Because with Layne, he’s so ready to go somewhere else, to another team, and do something else. Because he’s heard my voice [as] the dad, he’s heard my voice as the driver coach, he’s heard my voice as a crew chief and he’s heard my voice as a spotter. But he hears everything all from me, and he’s heard the same stuff from me and he’s picked up on it so well.

“But it’s so good and refreshing when he goes somewhere else. He’s got other racers that he’s around and they say the same kind of things that I say and have the same kind of thought process that I have, but it’s different words, different voice, different person. I think that’s what’s been refreshing for me to see him get that, because he’s been needing that for a while.”

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The elder Riggs might be best known for his near-win in the 2006 Coca-Cola 600, where he sat on pole and let 90 laps, but ended up 13th after late issues dropped him down the running order. More spectacularly, he’s infamous for his wild flip in the 2005 UAW-Ford 500 at Talladega Superspeedway, where his No. 10 was hooked exiting the trioval, broadsiding the wall at full speed before turning over and flipping wildly.

“That wasn’t one of my worst hits I’ve taken, because it just kept dissipating energy the whole time by spinning and flipping and moving,” he said. “So it wasn’t the worst, but it looked the worst.”

The MBV Motorsports car came to rest near Jeff Burton after tumbling five or six times, and Burton had an up-close and personal view of the crash.

“I always tell this story,” Riggs added. “When people talk to me and ask me about the wreck, because [when] you pull me up, you’re gonna find the wreck. I was mad because we got our car tore up, and we were running up front and we got close to the front, we got caught up in it. The thing I remember the most was getting in the ambulance, and Jeff Burton got in the ambulance with me. If you watch the wreck, they show the in-car camera of him — I remember getting into the ambulance with Jeff and I was mad, and I asked him how he was […] and he was stark white because he was scared to death.

“I remember he had these huge eyes, he was flush and white-faced like [I’d] just scared the shit out of him. You could tell it scared him because he just saw this carnage going on, and he thought he was gonna run into me while I was up and upside down, a Ryan Newman kind of deal, and I think it scared him. I remember not even thinking about the scary side until I saw Jeff, saw his face and how scared he was.”

As for his career, Riggs has applied what he learned from his time in NASCAR to guiding his son through motorsports.

“I think, in racing, from setup to decisions, career-wise, every day you make the best decision you can on the information you have at the time,” Scott said. “I can easily look back and say, ‘man, I had these forks in the road in my career, and if I would have chose this way versus that way,’ you question what it would have turned out to be how it turned out different.

“I know now, looking back, some of those forks would have turned out a lot better for me if I’d have taken the other way, but didn’t know that at the time, obviously. We could have probably put a lot less funding into Layne’s truck and gotten something that wouldn’t have been as good of people and equipment, but I knew from my racing that when you go to do it, you want to do it [where] you should be winning. Like every series that Layne’s been in, he’s been winning, and so just sticking him in something that wasn’t even capable of winning was not even a question […] we’re not going to do that.

“So when this deal came along, I knew this was a team and a truck that was capable of actually having a good finish, running well. And that’s really what made a decision to come here. Looking back on my career, I think that’s what gave us that perspective.”

Layne takes a similar perspective to his father’s hands-off approach, making his own way in NASCAR as much as he can.

“It’s really cool, following his footsteps and trying to learn everything that he’s taught me and just see it all for myself,” Layne said. “You can only tell me so much, but I have to just take it all in and learn for myself. […] It is really cool to carry on the family tradition, and [I] just hope I can make everybody proud.

“I try to make my own legacy,” he added. “I don’t want to be ‘Scott Riggs’ son’ every race, I just want to be Layne. So I just do the best I can behind the wheel and try to make my own name, and try to not use him to get what I get. Just try to do it all myself.”

Once everything came together, Riggs debuted at IRP and finished seventh. The first-time truck driver ended up in the thick of the first playoff race’s drama late, including a spectacular four-wide pass on the outside as the field began wrecking, and was as high as fifth on the final restart entering the backstretch amidst title contenders.

For context, seven of the top-10 finishers there were playoff drivers; three of them finished behind Riggs.

“Layne and I talked about it before the race, the last thing we want to do is leave an impression of doing something that affected the points,” Scott said. “[…] I think he did a good job of holding his line and protecting his line, but [also] getting the best finish he could without hurting someone else.

“[…] Then, at the very end there, I know Tripp [Bruce] questioned him on the radio: ‘do you want to stay out here because everybody’s got tires, it’s sort of a hard call, got 10 laps to go.’ And [Layne] said, ‘I’m not coming in.’ [Tripp’s] like, ‘well, that makes my decision easy, because you’re pretty confident, so I’m gonna let you stay out.'”

“It was very surreal,” Layne added. “We ran in the back of the pack almost all day, qualified bad, we had the bad pit stop [and] stayed a lap down until 65 to go we got our lap back. Just motoring through the field at the end, just passing trucks left and right and just felt comfortable when it got there. Ended up staying out on that last restart and got lined up fifth on the restart, like ‘man, here’s all the playoff contenders, right here in the top 10, I’m right in the middle of them.’ […] I know that the eyes are on me, the TV cameras are watching, so [it was] really cool.”

Son did father proud in his first-ever NASCAR race.

“I think he did good. I mean, he did good all the way around, makes me proud,” Scott said. “It’s hard for me to talk about it, because I am proud of him, I’m a proud dad at the same time, I’m proud just of how he races and how he carries himself. He’s doing a better job than I think I did at his age for sure.”

About the author

Adam Cheek joined Frontstretch as a contributing writer in January 2019. A 2020 graduate of VCU, he works as a producer and talent for Audacy Richmond's radio stations. In addition to motorsports journalism, Adam also covered and broadcasted numerous VCU athletics for the campus newspaper and radio station during his four years there. He's been a racing fan since the age of three, inheriting the passion from his grandfather, who raced in amateur events up and down the East Coast in the 1950s.

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Ed

Scott Riggs was a talented racer who always seemed to join team’s 6 months past their sell-by date. PPI had been a championship team with Jeff Green but lost a ton of people behind the scenes, then MBM post-Benson went through the same thing. Interesting that Riggs spoke about those forks in the road. His off the track experiences can only help Layne, who’s talented in his own right.

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