Five races in, Berlin native Ryan Preece is having his best season yet in the NASCAR Xfinity Series.
“I’m competitive. I would say (racing) feeds the fire when it comes to that competitive nature,” Preece, 27, said.
Preece finished 1st in the April 14 race at the Bristol Motor Speedway in Tennessee and has placed in the top five an additional three times.
“It was definitely pretty cool because when you look at Bristol, it’s a track that most racers around the country, they want to win at,” he said.
Preece and NASCAR star Joey Logano, of Middletown, got their start at some of the same local race tracks.
For a year or two in the late 1990s, Preece and Logano honed their skills at the Silver City Quarter Midget Club in Meriden. “That’s where myself and Joey Logano, we all got started,” Preece said.
“You can tell that there’s a bond there, and it started here,” said Wendi Cordova, publicity director for the club.
“We’re very proud of the fact that Ryan is doing as well as he is,” she said. “He’s an excellent role model for our kids.”
While watching Preece’s win at Bristol, she was elated to see that Logano was watching the race alongside the commentators and gave the club a shout out.
After the race, Logano tweeted out a photo of the two racers back in their Silver City days.
Many of the families with children racing at Silver City have that same attachment to the track, where generations of kids from Meriden and across the state spent countless hours.
Parents have fun there too, launching their kids onto the track with a good push and working as a pit crew.
“It’s a family sport. You don’t drop your kid off for an hour and come back after practice,” Cordova said.
“It becomes a way of life,” said Mary Trapp, the club’s secretary and a former racer, as her children buzzed about while getting ready to hit the track.
With a slightly tighter loop than a typical midget racing track, and families coming from across the region, she said Silver City is a perfect place for young racers to hone their reflexes and get exposure.
“Some things have changed, but the track is still here … it’s building the dream,” Trapp said.
Preece comes from a racing family. His dad and maternal grandfather were both racers.
“I don’t think there’s any memories I can recall that don’t have anything to do with racing,” he said. “It’s been a heck of a ride and hopefully it’s even better from here on out.”
Preece’s next race is at the famous Indianapolis Motor Speedway, listed on the U.S. National Register of Historic Places, on Saturday, Sept. 8.
“I’m excited about it, going to a track that has a lot of history is pretty exciting,” he said. “I feel pretty confident, I'm really happy with the results we’ve been having.”