Bittersweet Weekend For Moniz Family, Ryan Preece At Thompson Speedway Sunoco World Series

Al and Cathy Moniz with Ryan Preece prior to an XFINITY Series race in July at New Hampshire Motor Speedway (Photo: Fran Lawlor/RaceDayCT)

THOMPSON – The winner’s decals atop the No. 31 SK Modified at Thompson Speedway signifying so many victories represent the success of driver Ryan Preece in the well known Al and Cathy Moniz owned orange and white car.

But those stickers hardly tell the story of the relationship that bloomed from driver and car owner to basically extended family.

A meteoric rise through the upper ranks of NASCAR’s national divisions has landed Preece, of Berlin, in a full-time Monster Energy Cup Series car for the 2019 season.

And with that arrival at NASCAR’s premier level, the Moniz family will walk away from team ownership after 14 years at Thompson Speedway, the last eight with Preece as their driver.

“He’s like a son to me,” Cathy Moniz said of the 27-year old Preece. “I wouldn’t feel right putting anyone else in the car.

“… I’ve prepared myself for this day. I’m Ok with it. I know it’s hard. … When you do something for a long time … you’re going to miss it. I’m going to miss it. The excitement and joy and happiness we have for Ryan, it outweighs the sadness we have of not doing this anymore. It’s bittersweet, but it’s all good.”

Al and Cathy Moniz, who are from Falmouth, Mass. and own the company Falmouth Ready Mix, began fielding an SK Modified in 2004 at Thompson for former driver and Raynham, Mass. native Tommy Cravenho Jr.

The relationship between Preece and the Moniz family began in 2008 at a North-South Shootout event when he drove their backup car in the event. After that Preece would show up at times at Thompson to help the team in practice.

In 2009 and 2010 the Rowan Pennink took over the Moniz ride at Thompson, but Preece was never far away. Preece made his first official Thompson Speedway start for the Moniz family in an SK Modified in an event in 2010 in a backup car, basically doing a start and park to get the car on the track.

Just weeks before the start of the 2011 season Pennink informed the Moniz family that he would be unable to drive for them at Thompson that year because of other commitments he had in racing.

“I said to Al, ‘I guess we’re just going to sit it out. Where are we going to find a driver?’” Cathy Moniz said. “Ryan got wind of it like that and two days later he left a message on my husband’s phone. … I was like, ‘Call him back, the kid’s in.’ He kind of had his eye on the car I think, but we didn’t know that.”

Preece has driven every year for the family since then in their SK Modified at Thompson.

In 2012 he won 10 of 19 SK Modified events at Thompson on the way to his first track championship for the family. He added another championship in 2014.

Since 2011 Preece has won 30 times at Thompson driving the Moniz family owned No. 31 SK Modified.

When Preece had the opportunity to drive full-time in the NASCAR XFINITY Series in 2016 for JD Motorsports, it was the Moniz family helping him to secure the ride. And in 2017 the Moniz family was part of a group of local sponsors that helped Preece land what was originally a two-race deal with Joe Gibbs Racing.

Preece got his first XFINITY Series victory in that second race of the two-race deal with Joe Gibbs Racing on July 29, 2017 at Iowa Speedway. Since then Preece has made 13 more starts for Joe Gibbs Racing in the XFINITY Series, and parlayed his success with the into the full-time opportunity with JTG Daugherty Racing in the Monster Energy Cup Series.

And while Preece was focused so much on gaining success at the XFINITY Series level for the last three years, he never strayed from driving as much as possible in SK Modified events at Thompson for the Moniz family.

“They’ve been such a huge part in helping me get to where I am,” Preece said of the Moniz famiy. “It’s so crazy to think of what it all started with me kind of start and parking one of their Modifieds back in 2010. You never know where life is going to take you or who you’re going to meet. To think back to that day in 2010, when I drove that car and what’s it turned into and what a friendship it’s turned into.”

Preece was at Thompson Friday practicing for Sunday’s 30-lap SK Modified feature that’s part of the Sunoco World Series of Racing. The Moniz family has already sold one of the two cars they owned for their team.

Cathy Moniz said the team is planning to sell the car Preece will drive this weekend, but maybe it won’t happen.

“It’s definitely sad to think that my Sunoco Modified career is kind of coming to an end,” Preece said. “But at the same time, you never know. I might run an SK [Modified]. I don’t know if they’re selling the [second] car right now or not, if they have it next year we might try to make a midweek show and do one here and there. I’m planning on racing some races and hopefully Thompson is going to be on that schedule because I know they have some midweek shows.”

Said Cathy Moniz: “I know he wants to do it. I just don’t know that his schedule is going to let him. He wants to do everything.”


  1. Hats off to them for what they done for him most people don’t realize how much dedication you have to have to field a car that long and always be competitive the sport will miss them

  2. Bill D. Echo your statement. Also don’t forget them sponsoring Ryan for races in the JGR Xfinity ride, so thanks to them for that.

  3. Good to see Preece moving up but said to see Al and Kathy Moniz selling the team. People like Al and Kathy are really the backbone of the sport, doing it not for financial gain but doing it because they love the sport. They will be missed.

  4. Is Preece responsible for ending more teams this year then anyone else? A couple can’t go on without him apparently.

  5. Thank you Al and Kathy! Sad to see owners like this leave the sport. They were so loyal to the track, even the last year or two that Thompson tried to run weekly, they were one of 10 or 12 SK teams that showed up every week.

  6. Rosemary Pacileo says

    They are one of the nicest people you could ever meet ….Hearts of gold hope they still keep there feet wet in the sport it needs them BAD !!!!

  7. Doug I believe you are missing the point. It is about relationships owners and drivers have. I had 3 winning drivers during my tenure as an owner in three different divisions. I trusted my cars in the hands of these individuals and I can honestly say when they wrecked my equipment it was not their fault it happened. These guys were like family to me and when they decided to move up a division or call it a career I sold my equipment. Again, sincere lasting relationships between individuals and there are those that are making him out to be a home wrecker.

  8. None of us can anticipate when we will strike a nerve with one of our simple one liners. All we can do is be empathetic and clarify what we meant.
    I don’t believe I’m missing the point at all. My comment was simply meant to highlight the fact that both Moniz and Partridge have said they aren’t interested in putting other drivers in their cars. It’s unusual in that involves two of Preece’s rides and a compliment to not just him as a driver but as a person that is obviously fun to spend time with.

  9. “In 2012 he won 10 of 19 SK Modified events at Thompson on the way to his first track championship for the family.” Ah remember when the Thompson oval was a weekly racing facility. So sad they were down to a 7 race season this year and weren’t going to make up a rainout. You would think with a crowd like they had this weekend there is enough interest in the oval to add a few more shows next year.

    It is kind of sad to see someone you have watched locally go on to the next level. When they move on their car owners decide to leave the sport. It kind of leaves a void locally. It seems a lot of the good drivers/owners I enjoyed watching have left the modifieds over the past few years. It’s nice to have someone to root for on the national level. Perhaps seeing Ryan’s path to the upper levels of Nascar through pavement modifieds inspires others to get into the division.

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