The rivalry is friendly, but fierce. Longtime car owners Eddie Partridge of Wading River and Buzz Chew of Mattituck get along just fine, but when one of their cars edges the other on the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour, the needling can be relentless.
"We tease each other constantly," Chew, 72, said. "We make a good time out of it. We don't get upset. If his car breaks, I laugh at him. If my car breaks, he laughs at me. If I beat him, I'll rub it in. If he beats me, he'll rub it in. But it's all in jest. We like each other. We talk all the time. He's a great guy."
The rivalry is in full force this season, with both owners cars battling for the tour's points championship.
Partridge's car, driven by Ryan Preece of Berlin, Connecticut, leads Chew's car, driven by Woody Pitkat of Stafford, Connecticut, by two points (459-457) entering the Riverhead 200 on Saturday night, the tour's second stop of the season at Riverhead Raceway.
The two owners both have strong connections to the track. Chew, who owns Buzz Chew Chevrolet and Cadillac in Southampton, has donated pace cars to the track for more than 20 years and is the sponsor of Saturday night's event. Partridge, who owns a trucking company, TS Haulers, and the Calverton Tree Farm, bought the track from previous owners Barbara and Jim Cromarty on Aug. 14.
But business will be the last thing on the two men's minds when the engines start.
"I've known Buzzy forever," Partridge, 62, said. "I think I bought my first car from him. It's fun. I like to beat him. When we time trial, I always look to beat him. Even if he doesn't set a fast time, I just want to be one spot above him."
Preece is a fan favorite at Riverhead, running in the track's own NASCAR modified races when he's not on tour. The 24-year old currently is fifth in the Riverhead-only points chase.
"All he wants to do is race," Partridge said with a chuckle. "He doesn't go to the beach or do anything else. He just concentrates on racing and wants to move up the ladder. He's a full-blown racer. That's all he wants to do."
And that's why Partridge chose him to man his car on the tour after last season.
"I've watched Ryan over the years come up in our class," Partridge said. "I knew he was a great driver . . . He's always finished up front in every race he was in. He was always at the top of the point chart. We were looking for a driver at the same time he was leaving a car. It was just a good fit."
This is Pitkat's second year driving for Chew.
"Woody's got fantastic talent," Chew said. "He's fearless. He has great car control. He knows how to win."
Preece has four wins, six top fives and 11 top-10 finishes this season. Pitkat has one win, 10 top-five finishes, and 11 top-10 finishes.
And that single win number will be fine with Chew if he gets the ultimate prize, a points championship.
"The only thing we hope to do is beat Eddie Partridge for the title," he said.