CRAZY EIGHTS: Brian Hoar Sets Sights On Record 8th Title
7-Time ACT Champion Making Room For One More Trophy

WILLISTON, Vt. – Brian Hoar’s name is stamped all over the ACT Late Model Tour record book, from front cover to rear with nary a page that doesn’t have his name somewhere.

His 28 victories are the most in ACT history. No one else has won five races in a season, a feat Hoar accomplished during his 1999 title run. His seven series championships tie him with Jean-Paul Cyr for the most by a driver.

But that doesn’t mean he doesn’t have some unfinished business. Win the 2011 ACT Late Model Tour championship and Hoar and RPM Motorsports will stand alone with an unprecedented eighth series title.

“Jimmie Johnson has done it a few years in a row, so maybe we can too, who knows?” Hoar said referencing the five-time NASCAR Sprint Cup Series champion. “Last year was just a phenomenal year, and the potential is obviously there to do it again. We’re all feeling like we’re going to be contenders.”

Where most of the sport’s teams and drivers could easily become complacent after winning seven championships – including the last two back-to-back – the chance to once again make history only serves as motivation for the No. 37 Dodge team. Rick Paya, the car owner and crew chief, said these are the things that keep him going.

“That’s why I stay in racing is because of challenges like this,” said Paya, who won five of his championships with Cyr behind the wheel. “If not for them, I probably wouldn’t be doing it anymore. I’m focused 100 percent on winning the championship with Brian this year. We’re going after it hard.”

The team’s success is unparalleled in New England’s Late Model ranks. A RPM Motorsports entry has won an amazing seven of the last eight ACT championships. Hoar, who joined RPM for the 2009 season, said there’s no one thing that makes RPM so good – only that it’s a myriad of things.

“There is no secret. It’s a hundred things – that’s what it comes down to” said Hoar, who has five of his 28 career wins in an RPM ride. “It’s chemistry. It’s having the right people in the right positions.

“The biggest challenge we had (when I joined the team) was just communication. But we both had some confidence in what we were doing. But the biggest thing of all is that Rick and his guys are just really, really good with the race cars. It’s just amazing how good the car is when we unload.”

They’ll test that theory when the 2011 season opens next weekend at Lee USA Speedway, one of the few tracks left on the circuit where Hoar has never won. But like it seems he does every weekend, Hoar has complete faith that the No. 37 will be capable of winning even before it ever gets to the race track.

“We’ve all got the equipment – but everybody does now,” Hoar said. “No matter what we do, it’s all chemistry. Rick puts ungodly amount of hours into his race cars. Rick is the main man. He is amazing… He knows what’s going on with every inch of that race car.”

But Hoar knows a few tricks, too, and Paya is effusive in his praise of the accomplished driver.

“I’m behind Brian, and he’s behind me on everything that we decide,” Paya said. “He’ll drive anything that I give him. That’s the part I like. If I send him out in a race on new tires, or if I send him out to practice on old tires, it doesn’t matter – he drives that thing and he gives me 110 percent.”

Not everything will be old and familiar for Hoar in the RPM pits this season. For the first time, he’ll have a full-time teammate when second-year driver Austin Theriault of Fort Kent, Maine, joins the team to drive the No. 57 Varney Insurance Ford.

The team had a trial run of sorts when they competed together in the inaugural ACT Goodyear Speedweeks Cup at New Smyrna (Fla.) Speedway in February. Hoar won one of the two 100-lap races and narrowly missed out on the overall championship.

“It was a bit chaotic at first, but we totally expected that,” Hoar said of New Smyrna. “Shoot, we know the race hauler, our toolbox, everything – but it was much more chaotic for (Theriault) than it was for us. They were working with a brand new car, new toolbox, new hauler, everything.

“It was a great opportunity working with them, and it was a great start for the team… It’s going to take us a few races to get things going, but they’re going to be learning and we’re going to have a great team.”

A great team, and sights set on Championship No. 8.