Race Weekend Central

ARCA Team Rise Motorsports Forms with Rita Goulet, Stephen Leicht

Inspired by NASCAR Xfinity Series team owners Mike Harmon and Carl Long, Tim Goulet and his newlywed wife Rita Goulet (nee Thomason) are taking the plunge into ARCA Menards Series team ownership.

After Rita competed at the Milwaukee Mile for Tim Goulet Enterprises, the racetrack nearby where Tim grew up, the team rebranded as Rise Motorsports, it announced on Jan. 8.

Rita and Stephen Leicht will share the driving duties of the No. 31 in a part-time ARCA campaign, it announced in a release Jan. 8. Leicht will drive for the team in at least five races: Charlotte Motor Speedway, Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course, Michigan International Speedway, the second Kansas Speedway event and Bristol Motor Speedway.

Rita, meanwhile, will make her season debut at Berlin Raceway, also the site of her series premiere in 2022. She will also pilot the No. 31 at Iowa Speedway, Lucas Oil Indianapolis Raceway Park, Watkins Glen International and the Milwaukee Mile.

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The team currently has two racecars, one Toyota and one Chevrolet. Rita has the racecar she drove in her 2022 ARCA events. Recently, the team acquired an old Xfinity racecar from Mike Harmon Racing that it converted into an ARCA racecar.

Additionally, the team may compete in the ARCA Menards Series East race at Nashville Fairgrounds Speedway, but the team must first secure sponsors for it.

Tim also wants the team to compete in the second dirt track event of the season at the DuQuoin State Fairgrounds. The driver would either be Rita or a funded competitor, but with about eight months until the race, no decision has been made yet.

Veteran crew chief Sebastian LaForge will be the crew chief for the team.

Rita debuted to a 12th-place finish in her series debut at Berlin with an early DNF due to a mechanical failure.

After pretty much sleeping all day Sunday (I was completely exhausted!), here's a quick summation of my absolutely…

Posted by Rita Thomason Racing on Monday, June 20, 2022

She then finished 19th at Mid-Ohio, 20th at Watkins Glen and 25th at Milwaukee. All four starts yielded DNFs.

Now co-owner of an ARCA team, Rita has higher expectations for herself in her second year of ARCA competition. Spending a lot of time on iRacing, Rita is committed to improvement as a driver, mentioning to Frontstretch she already has learned “left foot braking on ovals.”

In her first two starts, Rita drove for team owner Alex Clubb. “I had a blast racing for him last year and I’m definitely grateful to him for giving me that opportunity,” she says.

Leicht now enters the team as a driver coach and someone who will help build the organization.

“Basically, we brought him on as a driver coach and mentor,” Rita says. “There’s a lot of races that he can run that I am not approved to yet. Right now, I can only run the mile-and-under racetracks. We’re going to let him race our car at some of the bigger tracks and then he’s going to coach me on some of the smaller ones to try and get my experience up. I am a pretty new driver and I have to work on being faster, for sure.”

Leicht and Tim know each other from their time working together for Harmon in the Xfinity Series. Tim says he believes Leicht is the perfect person to help Rise grow, emphasizing, “Stephen is that guy that I trust with my business, I trust with my team.”

Leicht is a veteran driver with experience in all three NASCAR series and ARCA. He has one Xfinity victory at Kentucky Speedway in 2007 and one ARCA win at Nashville Superspeedway in 2006.

With Leicht behind the wheel in several events, the team trusts he’ll keep the racecar in one piece as well as maximize his finishing performance. “Stephen is going to get the most out of the car by earning it,” Tim says. “Stephen is here to help build our program.

“Charlotte we’re all in with sticker tires and to let people know we’re there,” Tim adds. “We’re there with Stephen driving and there to grab attention.”

In six combined starts at Charlotte, Leicht has one top 10, a 10th-place finish in the first 2007 Xfinity race there.

The team also is excited to wrap up its campaign at Bristol with Leicht, who has a combined 10 starts there, behind the wheel.

“He’s really good at Bristol,” Tim says. “He can take a crap car at Bristol and make it better than it is. It’s fast too.”

Rita echoes, “I can learn so much from him there.”

As for Rita, her main goal is an all-around improvement. Beyond that, “I’m just going to do the best that the car and I can do,” she says.

“We’re here to finish races and learn,” Tim adds.

Outside of Charlotte, the team will take it one race at a time as far as whether or not to purchase sticker tires or scuffs, dependent on the budget. That fact has not dampened Rita’s optimism about her growth as a racecar driver.

“There’s a lot I can do as a driver to be a lot faster that doesn’t require us to spend a lot of money on sticker tires,” Rita says.

With a planned 10-race schedule in 2023, along with the possibility of participating in the DuQuoin event, the team would join the ARCA C-plan, giving it some start money for the 2024 season.

The extra finances would be beneficial, though the team has secured sponsorship. Hitman Wear is the primary sponsor and team marketing partner. On Target Media and Mecca Bytes will also sponsor the team.

In case running a part-time ARCA team in its first year isn’t daunting enough, Tim works two jobs and Rita just started as a police officer in Gastonia, N.C.

Finally got hired on here in North Carolina, plus some awesome team news in the coming weeks!

Posted by Rita Thomason Racing on Tuesday, December 27, 2022

The Charlotte race is Memorial Day weekend, almost five months from now. Yet the Goulets have a game plan for 2023 and beyond.

The optimum word for that game plan is sustainability.

“I want to leave some impact in ARCA,” Tim says. “The reason why is I’ve been in the sport long enough where I care about the sport. I care about making ARCA the building block for sustainability for our future. That’s why ARCA is good for us. It is a good building block for kids getting into our sport.

“I don’t look at this team from a business standpoint. I’ve seen businessmen try to make it. I care about our sport and the future of our sport and I’m doing this because I’m a racer. We are invested in this.”

Speaking of kids, Tim’s son Tim Goulet Jr. will also be part of Rise. No stranger to racing as he was with his dad in the NASCAR garages before, Tim Jr. will now be the team’s tire changer.

Long term, Rise aims to have a NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series team and utilize its ARCA team for driver development.

“Long-term goal is to make it to the Truck Series,” Rita says. “That’s where our heart is. We’d like to run the ARCA with driver development to start with our ARCA car and then work to our Truck [program].”

About the author

Mark Kristl joined Frontstretch at the beginning of the 2019 NASCAR season. He is the site's ARCA Menards Series editor. Kristl is also an Eagle Scout and a proud University of Dayton alum.

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