GUILFORD, Conn. – Ted Christopher, a former NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour and NASCAR Whelen All-American Series National champion, was killed Saturday afternoon in a plane crash.
The Plainville, Conn., native was 59 years old.
Christopher, who was scheduled to compete in the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour race Saturday at New York’s Riverhead Raceway, was on his way to Riverhead Raceway when the small plane he was in crashed into a wooded area in Guilford, Conn.
The Federal Aviation Administration indicated that two people were on the plane at the time of the crash. The second person on the plane has not been identified.
Christopher is considered by many to be one of the most iconic drivers in modern Northeastern racing history. He collected 42 NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour victories and six victories in the NASCAR Whelen Southern Modified Tour.
In 2001 Christopher captured the NASCAR Whelen All-American Series National championship, winning 15 of 18 races at Thompson Speedway Motorsports Park en route to the championship.
After several years of trying, Christopher finally won his first and only NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour championship in 2008 thanks to four victories, 10 top-five and 13 top-10 finishes in 16 starts.
During his career Christopher claimed multiple track championships at tracks across the Northeast, including Stafford Motor Speedway, Thompson Speedway Motorsports Park and New London-Waterford Speedbowl.
He also scored 10 victories in what is now known as the NASCAR K&N Pro Series East and won the New Smyrna Speedway World Series of Asphalt Stock Car Racing tour-type modified championship multiple times.
Christopher didn’t just stick to regional racing, he made six starts in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series, 21 starts in the NASCAR XFINITY Series and two in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series.
“The short track community is one of the tightest-knit groups in motorsports, and today it lost one of its most passionate, talented and well-respected members,” said David McGrath, executive vice president and general manager at New Hampshire Motor Speedway. “Ted Christopher was the gold standard when it came to short track racing, specifically the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour. With 10 career victories, Teddy is one of New Hampshire Motor Speedway’s most prolific drivers. I know that I can speak for everyone here, as well as our entire Speedway Motorsports, Inc. family, when I say that while Teddy may be gone, his legacy will carry on for generations to come. Our thoughts and prayers are with his family, friends, and fellow competitors at this very difficult time.”
“We are all saddened to learn of the tragic plane crash this afternoon that claimed the lives of NASCAR driver Ted Christopher and the aircraft’s pilot,” said NASCAR Chairman and CEO Brian France.
“As a championship driver on the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour and New England short tracks, Christopher was a throwback to NASCAR’s roots. He was a tough racer’s racer, and his hard driving style and candid personality endeared him to short track fans throughout the country. He will be missed throughout the racing community, in the garage and, especially, in the hearts of his many fans. NASCAR has his family and friends in its thoughts and prayers during this difficult time.”