Riggs Keeps Swinging Away At His Dreams
By Rick Minter | Senior Writer
BRISTOL, Tenn. – It seems just a short while ago that Scott Riggs was one of the promising young prospects in the Sprint Cup garage. In 2001, he won five truck series races then moved to the Nationwide Series where he won four times in the next two seasons. From there it was on to the Cup Series in 2004. Despite an occasional strong run, including a runner-up finish at Michigan and three career poles, his Cup career essentially ended after four years. Since then he’s bounced around from one part-time ride to another, with nothing of substance materializing.
On Friday morning at Bristol Motor Speedway, Riggs was working hard to get a start-and-park Nationwide Series car up to enough speed to make the race. He also was there to help the driver of the team’s primary car, Robert Richardson, get up to speed, so to speak, as a driver.
Riggs is far from living his dreams, but he’s not giving up either. And he’s still in the game.
“One good thing about at least doing a start-and-park deal is that I’m able to get out on the race track and know what the tire feels like and things like that,” he said. “Hopefully it’ll lead to me getting some races somewhere down the road.”
To pay the bills, Riggs is working for a company called Coastal Safety Auditors, and his duties involve just what the company’s name suggests. The first couple of weeks of each month, he’s walking through businesses checking on the safety equipment. Then he spends the next two weeks working in the shop servicing fire extinguishers.
Occasionally, when he’s on the job, someone recognizes him from his racing career.
“Most of the times I’m walking through pretty fast, but I have had to stop and sign some autographs,” he said.
Those times likely just remind him of the disappointing turn his racing career has taken.
It’s a change he attributes largely to the tough economic times and the overall difficulty of finding sponsorship.
To get a quality ride in these times, most drivers have to first secure the financial backing. And often it’s easier for a race team to sell a new, unknown driver than it is a veteran with experience, as some of the sport’s current Cup drivers are finding out.
The new, unknown driver could be the next Jimmie Johnson or Carl Edwards, and although there’s no hard data to indicate how things will pan out, an optimistic pitch just might seal a deal.
For someone like Riggs, it’s difficult to go up against a “pie in the sky” sales pitch.
So he wears a plain back firesuit, drives the second car for an independent team, and works outside of racing to help pay his bills.
And he does it all with the same smile on his face that he had when he was carrying the Valvoline colors in the Sprint Cup Series.
“It’s been tough. It’s been humbling, but I still feel fortunate for what career I did have,” he said. “I love the sport, but I hate the business, and the way things are going these days makes me hate the business even more.”
– Rick Minter can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org Comments