Ryan M. Kelly
Ed Partridge (back left) celebrated with driver Ryan Preece following a victory at Richmond Raceway. | Ryan M. Kelly photo

NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour championship team owner Ed Partridge dies

NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour championship team owner Ed Partridge, known for his success on the track and his friendship and impact off it, has died.

“We are saddened to learn of the passing of championship car owner and track owner Eddie Partridge,” a NASCAR statement read. “Eddie’s passion for racing was felt not just throughout the modified community, but also throughout grassroots racing as a whole. He fielded teams for some of the best drivers in the sport, and truly loved seeing his cars run up front. After taking on the task of running Riverhead Raceway, he then also proudly fielded a venue for those drivers to showcase their talent. It is only fitting that Eddie’s last race was a victory. A fierce competitor who fought for the good in short track racing, he will be greatly missed. Our thoughts and prayers are with his family, friends and teammates at this time.”

Known for giving many in the NASCAR industry their head start driving one of his modifieds, Partridge was the 2011 and 2017 owner champion on the Modified Tour. Additionally, driver Ron Silk won the 2011 title in Partridge’s machine.

“Some of my best years were racing with Eddie, it was amazing that he gave me that opportunity,” Silk told RaceDayCT. “But the things I’ll remember about him more was the fun. We’d go on a trip and we’d get a nice conversion van to ride to the races in and he was just really fun to be around. Sometimes you drive for people and things don’t go well at the track and everybody is in a bad mood for a while. With Eddie, he’d flip the switch right after the race.”

Partridge was especially close with Ryan Preece, who drove the No. 6 to victory at Richmond Raceway on Friday night.

Preece and Partridge were in Victory Lane together before the sad news of Partridge’s passing was confirmed Saturday morning.

Mike Wheeler, a veteran NASCAR Cup Series crew chief, was among the many to offer immediate condolences.

Preece is a 25-time Modified Tour winner, with his last 14 victories coming in Partridge’s No. 6. The two teamed up in 2015, and Preece’s career took off — he’s since made more than 150 NASCAR national series starts and boasts two career NASCAR Xfinity Series victories.

“I knew Ryan was a great driver when he drove the No. 3 and the No. 16 car,” Partridge said back in 2017. “He had a learning experience in the Xfinity Series and he wanted to come home and he called me up. I told him he would have to maintain all the cars, be the crew chief and the driver, all in one. I knew he had some success in his own cars with his dad, but I really didn’t know how it was going to go. But he went out there and pulled it off. It’s really unbelievable.”

Preece currently drives the No. 37 for JTG Daugherty Racing at NASCAR’s top level, but he still drives in the Modified Tour on a part-time basis as well.

Partridge also was owner of Riverhead Raceway, a fifth-mile oval in New York that has long been a fixture on the Modified Tour and is one of the most iconic and popular modified stops in the country.

The Whelen Modified Tour is scheduled to race at Riverhead on Sept. 18 at 8 p.m. ET, the 13th of 14 series races this season. Doug Coby won the two previous races at Riverhead this season.