With NASCAR Celebrating 75 Years, Ryan Preece Appreciative Of His Place In The Sport 

The 2023 racing season will be a special one for former NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour champion Ryan Preece. 

The Berlin native will make his return to competing full-time in NASCAR’s top level Cup Series as the newest member of the Stewart-Haas Racing stable.

And while Preece celebrates returning to the Cup Series, NASCAR itself will be celebrating all season long. 

That celebration began Wednesday as NASCAR observed Founders Day for the sport. Seventy-five years ago today, on December 14, 1947, Bill France Sr. opened four days of meetings with drivers, race promoters, mechanics, local officials, business people and media at the Streamline Hotel in Daytona. The goal of the meetings was to examine the future of stock car racing in the United States. What was born of the meeting was the National Association for Stock Car Auto Racing. About two months later, on Feb. 15, 1948, NASCAR hosted its first event on a beach road course in Daytona. 

It all took place long before the 32-year old Preece was born, but it doesn’t mean he doesn’t have an appreciation for what was formed. 

“I get to make a living racing cars,” Preece said. “And the landscape of all that is because of NASCAR and the development of what it once was to what it is now.” 

Preece’s rise up the NASCAR ladder began as a 16-year old racing on the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour. That first race on the beach in Daytona in February 1948 was a Modified race won by Red Byron. He would go on to win 11 NASCAR races that year and was crowned NASCAR’s first Modified champion. 

In 1949 NASCAR introduced what it would term its “Strictly Stock” division. That division would ultimately evolve into what is now the NASCAR Cup Series. NASCAR Modifieds would eventually take hold as a staple of Northeast racing. The NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour was introduced in 1985. Preece won the series championship in 2013 and has 25 career Whelen Modified Tour wins over 171 series starts dating back to 2007.

“As far as going from one of NASCAR’s first divisions and the Whelen Modified Tour, which I’m very proud of, I’m very proud of the culture and the people that it has up there,” Preece said. “For somebody who has gotten to travel across the country and go to different racing events and different styles of racing, it’s something that I really think we’re incredibly lucky to have in the Northeast, which is in Modified racing and the passion that people have with that. It’s the same type of passion that Bill France and the … other people that were there for the [founding] meetings had back in Daytona a long time ago. It’s pretty cool.” 

Eventually NASCAR would build one of its crown jewel facilities right up the road from where that founding meeting took place. The 2.5-mile Daytona International Speedway opened on February 22, 1959 with the inaugural Daytona 500. 

Preece made his first start at Daytona in February 2016 in an Xfinity Series event. He ran his first Daytona 500 on February 17, 2019, finishing eighth driving for JTG Daugherty Racing. 

But his first time seeing the high banks of Daytona came while riding a tram as a kid. 

“Growing up in a racing family, that’s always a place that, watching it on TV, you always wanted to go there,” Preece said. “My first experience was when I was nine or 10 years old. We were racing [Quarter Midgets] not far from Daytona. And Daytona [International Speedway] had Daytona USA on the property. I remember dragging my brothers and my mom and dad there because I wanted to go to the arcade they had. But I also vividly remember being on the tram for the tour they had and they would take you around Daytona. Fast forward however many years later, I’m one of the lucky guys that gets to race there. For a lot of short trackers and a lot of racers, that’s something you only get to see sitting in the stands or watching on TV. It’s something to me that’s pretty special.” 

NASCAR’s early leaders meet in the Streamline Hotel in Daytona Beach. Seated (L-R): Bob Richards, Freddie Horton, Jack Peters, Ed Bruce, Chick DiNatale, Harvey Tattersall Jr., Tom Galan, Alvin Hawkins, Bill Tuthill, Bill France Sr., Mildred Ayres, Joe Littlejohn, Jimmy Cox, Eddie Bland, Joe Ross, Sam Packard, Bill Streeter, Lucky Sauer. Standing (L-R): Larry Roller, Fred Dagavar, Bob Osiecki, Jimmy Quisenberry, Ed Samples, Marshall Teague. (Photo by ISC Archives via Getty Images)


  1. Excited to see Ryan in top notch equipment!

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