Great car owner, friend and champion: Ed Partridge leaves behind iconic resumes, lifelong memories

larger than life.

He was Ed Partridge, both in stature and personality.

At 6-foot-7, you can never miss Partridge, whether it’s in the garage of a NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour race or on a track owned by Riverhead Raceway on Long Island, New York.

This is because Partridge’s passion for racing and people has always made him so popular. And that’s what made the morning of September 11th so difficult for the motorsports community.

Late on Friday, September 10, just hours after winning the Wheelen Modified Tour race at Richmond Raceway, with driver Ryan Preece behind the wheel, Partridge lost his life after suffering a heart attack. Partridge was 68 years old.

Partridge’s belief in others took him far beyond Riverhead’s local roots, even beyond the Whelan Modified Tour. Preece was the perfect embodiment of that belief becoming reality.

By the end of 2015, Prius was a proven commodity on the tour—a 15-time winner and 2013 Tour champion—and decided to pursue his NASCAR dream fully, an opportunity that culminated in riding full-time in NASCAR with JD Motorsports. Happened in 2016 Xfinity Series.

But after a memorable year after an 11th-place finish at Road America and a 10th-place attempt at Darlington Raceway, Preece went back home in 2017, reimagining whatever success he could return in a modified form. Was eager to wake up. One person who believed in him was Eddie Partridge.

“I ended up working full time for him and maintaining and installing the cars,” Preiss told NASCAR.com. “And the people said to him, ‘He is not capable.’ But Eddie didn’t say, ‘You know what, you’re right. Hey, we’re going to do something different here, Ryan.’ He believed in me and gave me a chance to prove myself.

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Ed Partridge (holding the trophy) celebrates the 2017 NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour Owners Championship with driver Ryan Preece, wife Connie, and NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour Series Director Jimmy Wilson. (nascar)

Preuss did exactly that, winning five of the 14 races recorded in 2017, along with co-drivers John McKennedy and George Brunhoelzl, helping lead Partridge to their second owners’ championship on the Tour.

Simultaneously, Preuss used the sponsorship money to be included in Joe Gibbs Racing’s number 18 Xfinity Series car for four races – a gamble that resulted in the first NXS win of his career and four top fives.

Now a second-year driver in the NASCAR Cup Series for JTG Dougherty Racing, Preece credits Partridge as the catalyst for his win today.

“His goals and my goals all align,” Preece said. “And no matter what we both did to achieve those goals, there aren’t many people out there who are like her and willing to do whatever it takes.”

Preece isn’t Partridge’s only product to have current success in the NASCAR Cup Series.

Mike Wheeler and Freddie Kraft, the crew chief and spotter for Bubba Wallace’s No. 23 team respectively, were both given their first true shot at racing by Partridge.

In the fall of 2000, Wheeler was a late model racer trying to find his opportunity. Partridge’s revamped team was struggling, but the team owner knew that Wheeler was a talented mechanic. He soon asked “Wheels” to help him set up his shocks and measure roll center, and soon after, Wheeler found himself working part-time for Partridge at night.

This eventually developed into a full-time job for Wheeler, who was in the middle of the fall semester of his senior year at Kettering University. Before Wheeler came on full-time, Partridge’s team qualified for only eight of the 19 races. In their first race together at Martinsville Speedway, the car climbed the leaderboard and finished second.

“At the time it was a big deal because everyone thought we were cheating,” Wheeler said. “Nobody knew me. I was just a little kid in college. And I was there to set up the car, make sure the bump steer was right, all the parameters were where they should be. We went to Martinsville though, And nobody had the notes because it was the first and only time we went there that year and we ran really well.”

The work he did for Partridge went unnoticed, and just a few years later Wheeler was hired by Joe Gibbs Racing as an engineer for their Xfinity Series team, before moving to the Cup Series in 2005. The team was started. Number 11 car.

Kraft said on the most recent episode of Dirty Mo Media’s “Door Bumper Clear” podcast Partridge that he got his first chance to see a race car of any kind.

“He was the first to hire me,” said Kraft, who also spots for Jeb Burton in the Xfinity series and Derek Cross in the Camping World truck series. “And it just honestly opened the door to where I am today.”

Kraft believes that the three products of the Tour, modified as part of today’s Cup Series, are so closely linked to Partridge, leaving behind the legacy Partridge.

“[It’s] Just a testament to what Eddie made into a program. (He) was just an incredible man,” Kraft said.

Partridge also fielded cars for some other top drivers, including Jimmy Blewett, who won five of his six career Whelan Modified Tour races with Partridge from 2006–2009. Those victories included a checkered flag at Martinsville Speedway in 2006 and Riverhead Raceway in 2008, just a decade before Partridge took ownership of the New York facility.

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Ed Partridge (left) celebrates winning the NASCAR Whelan Modified Tour race at Riverhead Raceway in 2008 with driver Jimmy Blewett (center) and his wife, Connie. (nascar)

And for all the racing victories and stories associated with Partridge, it’s his character that people remember the most.

Ron Silk was the driver for Partridge’s first championship in 2011, a season highlighted by victories at Stafford Motor Speedway, Delaware Speedway and New Hampshire Motor Speedway. Both competed in events at the SK Modified Race, New Smyrna Speedway, and found success outside the Tour in those races.

But it is the time he spent on the road traveling from race to race that stands out in Silk’s memory.

“Eddie had a presence,” Silk recalled. “Everyone respected him. And obviously he took racing very seriously and wanted to win – and we were able to do that – but he also had the ability to shake it up when things didn’t go well, or you had a bad day. And still have fun. He never made you feel like you were letting him down. You just move on to the next one and do better. It was a great atmosphere to be inside. “

The relationships Partridge built during his time in the game will last forever. So evident in his lasting impact on those around him.

“there was a point” [Sunday] When I was thinking about something I usually pick up my phone and I call her and start talking to her about it and what her thoughts were,” Preece said. “And now I can’t make that phone call. It’s going to take some adjustments.”

Silk entered Richmond Raceway on 10 September and won each of the last two races on the tour’s schedule, but crashed late on the way to finish 19th.

“I saw [Partridge] Going off the track in Richmond the other night, and I had a really bad night so I was in no mood to talk,” Silk said. “So I kept going and driving home and got the news while I was driving, and I wish I could stop for a few minutes and talk to him and congratulate him on his last win. Just never think that this will be the last time you I’ll talk to someone.”

His legacy lives on on September 18, as the Whelan Modified Tour heads back to Riverhead Raceway (8 p.m. ET, TrackPass), a fitting, yet painful, next stop on the schedule. While emotions will run high just hours after his funeral, Silk believes this is exactly where the tour should take place.

“Hopefully looking at him at Riverhead this coming Saturday and can be proud of the race we’ve put in,” Silk said. “Sure life is so ironic that we’re going to Riverhead this week, but I know he’ll be excited that we were going there, that’s for sure.”

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Ed Partridge (right) celebrates the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour Championship in 2012 with driver Ron Silk (left) and his wife, Connie. (nascar)



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