Colchester’s Scott Payea and car owner Rick Paya, along with the rest of the RPM Motorsports team, were officially crowned the 2018 American-Canadian Tour (ACT) champions on Saturday, November 18. The 2018 ACT Banquet of Champions, held at the Capital Plaza in Montpelier, VT, celebrated all the top performers from the 27th season of competition for the ACT Late Model Tour.
Payea was recognized for winning his second straight ACT driver’s championship. The Northeast racing veteran finished in the top-10 in every event on the 10-race schedule and completed every lap. He also collected two wins, bringing his career total to 15. In beating out Rowley, MA’s Eddie MacDonald by 35 points, he became the fourth driver in Tour history to win back-to-back titles.
For Paya and RPM Motorsports, it was their 10th owner’s championship with ACT, the most of any team. They previously won five championships with Jean-Paul Cyr and three with Brian Hoar before joining forces with Payea prior to the 2016 season. The pairing has finished 2nd, 1st, and 1st in points in their three seasons together.
“It’s still hard to believe,” Payea said in his acceptance speech. “You hear the driver’s name a lot, and you hear about Rick Paya all the time, but we’re just a small part of a large team that makes this all possible.”
“It’s incredibly fun to go out week in and week out with this team,” he went on. “From the bottom of my heart, thank you for everything that you do. None of this is possible without all of us.”
Payea also acknowledged his fellow competitors for their fine seasons and thanked ACT owners Cris Michaud and Pat Malone, along with the series staff, for successfully handling a transition year and carrying on the ACT name.
Many of the other top point drivers and owners were also in attendance to officially put a wrap on the 2018 season. MacDonald was honored for finishing second in points, matching the best season-long result he has ever posted in a major touring series. “The Outlaw” won both ACT events at Maine’s Oxford Plains Speedway behind the wheel of his Rollie Lachance–owned machine and never finished worse than 12th during the season.
Williamstown, VT’s Jimmy Hebert completed the top-3 in the standings. The veteran snapped a nearly 5-year winless streak by winning back-to-back events at Speedway 51 and White Mountain. He also had three other podium finishes driving for car owner and father Larry Hebert.
Milton, VT’s Dylan Payea was officially named the 2018 ACT Rookie of the Year. The cousin of Tour champion Scott, Dylan collected three top-10 finishes in his first year with ACT and finished 6th in driver points. His family team was also one of only three teams running at the finish of every event.
ACT also presented a trio of special awards to drivers and crew members. Lanorarie, QC’s Claude Leclerc received the second annual Thomas M. Curley Memorial Award. “The Ironman” was at the first ACT event in 1986 and at Tom’s final event as a promoter in 2017. All told, Leclerc made more than 500 starts in events promoted by Tom Curley.
While doing so, he has shown the same passion, dedication, integrity, and commitment to hard work that Tom valued in himself and others. At age 77, Leclerc is still going strong, finishing 7th in ACT points this past season.
David Dubeau was the recipient of the 2018 ACT Crew Chief of the Year Award. As the crew chief for his brother Rich Dubeau, he was recognized for being well-prepared at every event, having a good attitude, and always making the best of any situation. These things helped his team post the best season of their ACT career and finish 4th in points.
Oxford, MA’s Brian Tagg was presented with the ACT Sportsmanship Award. Tagg brought a positive, never-give-up attitude to every event and was always friendly with fellow competitors and officials. He also showed great determination in finishing out the season after a bad crash at the Labor Day Classic.
The 2019 ACT schedule and rules have been released and are available at www.acttour.com. License applications, team registration forms, and 2019 full-season entries will be out shortly.