A local youth racing club is celebrating after two alumni finished in the top 10 at the Daytona 500.
Rookie Ryan Preece from Berlin finished eighth during his debut at The Great American Race on Sunday.
Preece was four spots behind Joey Logano of Middletown, who is the 2018 NASCAR Cup Series Champion.
Organizers at the Silver City Quarter Midget Club in Meriden told NBC Connecticut they hope Preece and Logano’s success can inspire more young drivers to try racing on their track.
“My father was a gearhead,” said Marry Trapp, who competed in quarter midget racing with her siblings growing up. “It was a family event. Every weekend we knew were racing.”
Trapp is the secretary for the Silver City Quarter Midget Club five years after introducing the sport to her now 12-year-old daughter Kali.
“We came down here in October to do the fall arrive and drive and she loved it quit dance, quit soccer and we’ve been here ever since,” Trapp said.
Trapp and her daughter watched the Daytona 500, featuring the top 10 finishes from the two Connecticut drivers.
“It was very cool,” Kali said. “I wanted them to get top three but it was cool getting them up there.”
Logano gave Silver City a shoutout during his post-race interview on national TV and he tweeted “was a cool moment racing up front with Ryan Preece towards the end tonight. From quarter-midgets in Connecticut to the Daytona 500 it shows dreams come true.”
“When they were up there in the front like that it was amazing,” Trapp said. “It was very exciting to watch the two of them, especially together, they were next to each other on the track.”
“I want them to come back and visit that would be really cool,” Kali added. “I did see Joey once.”
Trapp said she hopes Logano and Preece’s stories can help increase participating in quarter-midget racing.
“It’s huge for us,” she said. “Hopefully I mean we are looking obviously for more drivers to come and to build out club up. It’s nothing like it used to be years ago, we used to have you know 150-200 cars here on any given Saturday now we’re down to 65.”
Her daughter can’t wait for the snow to melt so she can get back behind the wheel.
“My goal is just to get up there again, like in top 3, maybe first,” Kali said.
Children ages 5-16 are invited to test drive a quarter midget car for $20 at 835 Hanover Road in Meriden. The racing season begins the first weekend in May.