This week’s DragChamp Jr. Racer Spotlight is all about Louisiana Junior Dragster driver, Payton Simoneaux.
Featured photo by Lou Crouch
NAPOLEONVILLE, LA- Payton Simoneaux was destined to be a racer. Her Dad and Pappy have both been racing since they were teenagers and Payton has been going to the track since she was in diapers. One day, her Dad took her to a Junior Dragster race at State Capitol Raceway, and since then she knew she wanted to race. A couple weeks later, Mr. Nat LeBlanc let her borrow “Ole Smokey”, which ended up being her first Junior Dragster and that started her racing career.
Since then, Payton has captured multiple Track Championships, and has picked up 32 career race wins and 20 runner-ups. Just last year, she was the 2021 No Problem Raceway Track Champion.
She currently competes in the fastest, most competitive Junior Dragster class, the Masters. Normally, she races at State Capitol Raceway, No Problem Raceway, and Gulfport Dragway for the King of the Coast Racing Series. She said, “The KOC race series has to be my all time favorite, Mr. Gaylon and his team knows how to put on a good race!”.
Current Race Car
Payton’s current race car is her Halfscale Junior Dragster that has been named, “The Watermelon”. She has had her current car for about 4 years now and it has a Shockwave Clutch and a Nick Woods 3 ½ motor onboard. According to Payton, it’s one of the most consistent cars that she has ever had and it runs 7.90-7.95’s at 80-83 MPH. The fastest that she has ever ran in her car was a 7.56 at 86 MPH.
Outside of Racing
In Payton’s free time, she enjoys drawing and painting, going to the gym, or finding random recipes on Pinterest to cook and see how they turn out. She also likes to play Volleyball, shop on the internet, and listen to music. Her favorite movie is any movie with Adam Sandler in it and her top pick would have to be, Just Go With It. Her favorite food is steak with a side of mashed potatoes and her daily driver is a 2014 white Nissan Altima.
- State Capitol Track Champion 2014
- No Problem Track Champion 2016
- No Problem “Driver of the year” 2016
- State Capitol Track Champion R/U 2017
- Iron man winner 2017
- Iron man winner 2019
- Wally winner 2019
- State Capitol Track Champion 2019
- KOC Track Champion R/U 2020
- No Problem Track Champion 2021
- Southwest Series Race Winner 2021
- 32 total races won
- 20 total races R/U
What’s on your bucket list, future goals, what do you hope to achieve?
A few things on my bucket list is to go to Hawaii, fly on an airplane, and win a big money race out of state. Some of my future goals are to have a good job that makes me happy and to have the house of my dreams on a big piece of land! I hope to complete college and become the best drafting and design technician I can be.
What is your favorite race car, and why?
My favorite race car has to be the one I am currently in. It’s the most consistent car I’ve ever had which helps me out a ton, it also never has too many problems with it. We can have the car sit in the trailer for a month and then run it, and it runs the same numbers as the last time I ran it. Although others say my car looks like a watermelon, I like it because it’s very different from the other cars.
Who has made the biggest impact on your racing success?
Someone who has made the biggest impact on my racing success is my Dad. He has taught me everything you need to know about Drag Racing from the top of the list to the bottom. Every Time before I run he makes sure I have a game plan of what I will dial and what I will do. He always calms me down before every run and makes sure I’m prepared.
Who do you look up to in the sport?
Someone I look up to in this sport would probably have to be my Dad, Cool Simoneaux. To me, he is the best there is. It doesn’t matter if he wins or loses, I know he did all he could. It doesn’t matter what he’s been through or what rough situation he is in, he will pick himself up and keep going moments after. He has taught me everything I know today and I hope to be like him one day.
Tell us what you do for a living?
As of now I am a senior at Assumption High School, I also have a couple babysitting jobs, and as a side job I paint signs and door hangers for people.
How do you support your racing, side hustle, sponsor, partner, etc.?
To support my racing, my dad and I save up our winnings and that tends to pay for entry fees, buy backs, and other things that we may need like fuel, parts, new equipment, etc. But anytime my Pappy has the chance, he buys me back or before I go to any big race he gives me an envelope with money to help for that weekend.
Who do you hate to see in the other lane, and why?
I hate seeing my boyfriend, KaCee Guedry, in the other lane because as much as he does red light against me, he may surprise me and actually go green. (That only happened 2 out of about 10 times but you didn’t hear that from me.)
What’s the hardest part of drag racing?
The hardest part of drag racing is when your car isn’t acting right so you just shoot your shot with what you have. Or even when you are going down the track and find yourself not being able to get to the finish line and you do everything you can to try to win and that plan just doesn’t work out.
What’s your most embarrassing moment in a race car?
The most embarrassing moment in my race car is when I almost got run over by a tractor… It’s a long story.
What are you saying to yourself just before you stage the car?
Before I stage my car, I can hear my Dad’s voice in my head saying “You got this, don’t stress” or “Take your time, see it, hit it.”
What do you enjoy the most at the racetrack?
What I enjoy the most about the track is just being able to escape from reality. Everyone at the racetrack is like one big family and I just love being able to be a part of it. Everytime I spend the weekend at the track it feels like a vacation. I enjoy hanging out with my friends and family, and being able to watch close friends go rounds in the race. Overall, just making memories and even new friends is the best part about it.
Are you superstitious? If so, what are they?
I’m pretty sure I am the most superstitious person ever. If I find myself doing good, I try very hard to stick with the same routine I did as the rounds before that. I turn the switch on in my car at the same spot every time. Whoever gave me a fist bump before the rounds before that, they have to do it all the rounds after that. Whoever watched me at the starting line the rounds before that, they have to watch all the rounds after that. I can go on and on.
Do you love to win or hate to lose?
As much as I love to win, if I lose to a very good race that I couldn’t do anything about then I don’t hate the thought of losing too much. But if I lose because of something dumb that I did then it’s a whole different ball game.
Which are you better at the starting line or the finish line?
I 100% think I am better at the starting line, it’s also the part I’m most nervous about. Once I get the tree down packed and see how the race will turn out, then I’ll know what to do. But I’m an overthinker and change my mind on what I will do way too much.
What motivates you to continue racing?
Something that motivates me to continue racing is the feeling of winning. The feeling of winning makes not only myself happy but my family and friends happy. Making other people happy or seeing other people happy makes me feel content. Another thing that motivates me to continue racing is making memories at the track. Nothing in this whole world can beat just one weekend at the racetrack for me. It’s an escape from reality.
If money were no object, what would your racing operation look like? Car, trailer, class, race schedule, etc.
If money were no object I would have; a huge motorhome with a nice paint job that can hold my big family, a bigger trailer of course that has the same paintjob as the motorhome, and we would visit every track around the country and make all the memories we can!
How often do you use a practice tree?
Usually when I find myself bored I remember that I have a practice tree for two players , and my younger siblings and I will most likely turn “practicing” into a competition.
What are you really good at?
Something that I am really good at is drawing and painting.
Name one thing most people don’t know about you?
One thing most people don’t know about me is that I can cook and bake very well, if I do say so myself.
Would you rather hang out with a crowd or have a quiet evening at home?
Hanging out with a crowd, only if it’s at the racetrack. If it’s anywhere else then I would most likely prefer to stay home.
Who would you like to thank, who helps you the most?
The first person I would like to thank is my Dad, without my dad I wouldn’t be where I am today inside and outside the track. He is the reason I do what I do. Words can’t even describe how much I appreciate him, he’s the best.
The next person I would like to thank is my Pappy, he always makes sure I feel confident on race days. I don’t know what I would do without hearing his phrase “Kickin like a chicken” all day everyday. He tries his best to make every race that I’ve been in, if he isn’t there then he is at home watching it live.
The last person I would like to thank is the person who brings me race all around the world, Kicka. I can’t ever thank him enough for treating me like a kid of his own and making sure I have the best weekend at the track no matter what.
What is a piece of advice you’d give to an aspiring racer?
A piece of advice I would give to an aspiring racer is, have fun, make new friends, and make memories while you can in juniors because before you know it, it will be over.
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