NASCAR Cup Series driver Ryan Preece returned to his racing roots last weekend. He hopped back into a modified for the Tri-Track Open Modified Series event at Star Speedway in Epping, New Hampshire. In a car he personally works on, he finished fifth in the feature.
Preece relishes the opportunity to spend time with his modified owned by Eddie and Connie Partridge. This includes when he gets to turn wrenches on it from his shop in North Carolina.
“I enjoy messing with my car,” Preece, 29, originally of Berlin, Connecticut, said. “I’m like a kid with his new street car when it comes to this modified.”
Preece likes to make his No. 6NY modified different from the rest of the field. He draws that desire from his family heritage in the open-wheeled groundpounders.
His late grandfather, Bob Judkins, was a revolutionary force in the division. Judkins often tried new ideas. Among them included using a Ford Pinto body — in an time when pre-WWII coupes dominated the scene.
“I grew up in an era when the modifieds evolved to be kit cars — most cars on the track are similar and have the same suspension components,” said Preece. “That is okay for some people, but I want something different. When I do race, I want a car that separates myself from the others.”
Preece’s car has a birdcage and a four-link suspension in the rear, instead of the conventional two-link trailing-arm setup.
“Mike Paquette, of Chassis Dynamics [in Connecticut], and I built [a four-link modified] in 2018, and we won quite a few races with it,” Preece said. “Now, Eddie [Partridge] had this car built and we are tweaking it. I’ll keep making it better until I am content with it.”
Preece finds a few hours a couple times a week in his busy schedule to work on the car. Friend, Daytona 500-winning car chief, and modified driver Gary Putnam joins him in the shop. Preece often consults Paquette by phone. Ultimately, Ryan Preece is driven to find to victory lane by taking his own path with the No. 6NY.
“Conventionally, it was the driver that could make a car better than the rest,” said Preece. “When nine out of 10 cars have the same setup, it removes choices from the driver’s toolbox. Racing continues to change. Everyone is getting smarter, and winning is harder to do. When you have a car that is different, it sets you apart.”
This year marks the Outside Groove Director of Photography’s 50th year of covering auto racing. Adaskaveg got his start working for track photographer Lloyd Burnham at Connecticut’s Stafford Motor Speedway in 1970. Since then, he’s been a columnist, writer, and photographer, in racing and in mainstream media, for several outlets, including the Journal Inquirer, Boston Herald, Stock Car Racing, and Speedway Illustrated. Among Adaskaveg’s many awards are the 1992 Eastern Motorsport Press Association (EMPA) Ace Lane Photographer of the Year and the 2019 National Motorsports Press Association (NMPA) George Cunningham Writer of the Year.