Modified champion Ted Christopher died in a plane crash Saturday afternoon in Guilford, Connecticut. He was 59.
Christopher, the 2008 NASCAR Whelen Tour Modified champion, was scheduled to compete in Saturday night’s race at Riverhead (New York) Raceway. Track officials planned to honor Christopher by having his car driven for a ceremonial lap followed by a moment of silence.
NASCAR issued a statement on behalf of Chairman and CEO Brian France:
“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.
“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.”
The Federal Aviation Administration confirmed that a Mooney M20C plane crashed at 1:53 p.m. ET Saturday in a wooded area near Guilford. The FAA confirmed two people were onboard.
NBC Connecticut reported that both people on the plane were killed. NASCAR confirmed that Christopher was one of those killed in the crash.
The National Transportation Safety Board will investigate the incident.
Christopher was selected as one of the top 25 drivers in NASCAR Whelen All-American Series history in 2006. Fans voted him as the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour’s most popular driver three times.
Christopher captured 13 track championships and competed at every level of NASCAR. He made six Cup starts (the last in 2009), 21 Xfinity starts (the last in 2001) and two Camping World Truck Series starts (the last in 1999).
He won nine track championships (1987, ’96, 2000, ’01, 04, ’07, ’09, ’12 and ’14) at Stafford (Connecticut) Motor Speedway
Christopher’s death reverberated throughout NASCAR and the racing community.