GEORGIA, VT – Scott Payea is back. The veteran Late Model stock car driver has joined champion car owner and crew chief Rick Paya for a full-season schedule on the American-Canadian Tour (ACT) with RPM Motorsports in 2016. The pairing marks a new era for the RPM team and a return to the driver’s seat for the Milton, VT racer after a two-year hiatus.
Scott Payea was a top ACT contender for several years before taking a break to spend time with his young family. Payea was an immediate force upon joining ACT in 2005, finishing third in the first start of his career. He went on to claim the Rookie of the Year title that season and was the championship runner-up three straight years in 2007-09, winning five ACT races during that time. Payea scaled back from touring in 2010 to race locally at Thunder Road Speedbowl in Barre, VT before hanging up his helmet at the end of 2013.
Engine builder, crew chief, and RPM Motorsports owner Rick Paya has played a part in hundreds of short track victories during his career, and has won a total of eight ACT championships with drivers Jean-Paul Cyr and Brian Hoar. The RPM team won the last two ACT Late Model Tour races of 2015 with Hoar behind the wheel, but, somewhat ironically, it was Hoar’s recent decision to step away from racing and spend more time with his own family that opened the door for Scott Payea to return.
“Scott wasn’t really on anyone’s radar because he hasn’t raced in the last couple of years, but he was always on mine,” Rick Paya said. “Scott was my first choice to drive the car after Brian left. I called him out of the blue, and I think I took him by surprise. I’m really excited that he said yes.”
Scott Payea admitted that he was shocked by both the phone call and Rick Paya’s confidence in his abilities as a driver.
“I was walking home from the park with my kids a few weeks ago when my phone rang,” Scott Payea said. “Rick and I talked a couple of times, and I went to the race shop told Rick I thought it would be great if we could work something out, but he said, ‘No, it’s a done deal, you’re my driver.’ That was pretty amazing.”
Scott Payea said that attending races and being on the sidelines over the last two years was more difficult than he had anticipated. He also did not anticipate that he would have the opportunity to drive for RPM Motorsports.
“I went to a few races to watch with my son, and I found out that there’s no middle ground for me,” he said. “It was hard. I either wanted to be out there on the track or not there at all, so I didn’t go too often. In the back of my mind I was hoping I would get another shot, but I never expected to have a car owner like Rick call me and want me to drive.”
The RPM Motorsports team expects to use the first few events in 2016 as a time to jell and come together as a group, but given Payea’s rookie impact in 2005, and RPM’s 2009 ACT championship in its first season with Hoar behind the wheel, history may be on their side.
“I think the hardest part will be training people how to spell our last names right,” Rick Paya joked. “I know Scott will be just fine after a couple of practices next Spring, and the whole team is really excited to see how we do together.”
“Initially the goal is for me to knock the rust off after two years, but I’m obviously pairing up with a team that is accustomed to having a great deal of success,” Scott Payea said. “I hope that makes everything easier. It’s an incredible opportunity, and I’m super, super excited to get the season started.”
RPM Motorsports is in the midst of sponsorship negotiations for the 2016 season and is hopeful to announce its marketing partners soon.
The American-Canadian Tour’s 2016 schedule is expected to be announced near Thanksgiving. For more information on ACT, call (802) 244-6963 or visit www.acttour.com.
RPM Racing Engines, home of RPM Motorsports, is based in Georgia, VT and has nearly 30 years of winning history. RPM Racing Engines builds power in several motorsports disciplines, but specializes in ACT’s and PASS “spec” programs. For more information, call (802) 524-7406 or visit www.rpmenginesvt.com.
-RPM Motorsports Press Release. Photo credit: NHMS.com