Champ Trail -
September 19, 2017
In what was supposed to be another great weekend of racing, news of the
passing of Ted Christopher, 59, in a plane crash while enroute to Riverhead
Raceway on Long Island caused just about everyone in the racing world in the
Northeast to go into a state of shock. Connecticut TV station FOX 61
reported a small plane carrying two men crashed into a field in Guilford, CT
around 3 P.M. on Saturday afternoon. Known to many as “TC” the veteran racer
excelled at just about every racing division in which he ran.
Christopher, with 374 career wins is the Stafford Motor Speedway all-time
winningest driver with 131 feature wins, 109 of them in the SK Modifieds. He
is also the winningest driver in NAPA Spring Sizzler® history with 6 wins.
He also accumulated nine SK Modified championships at the Arute family owned
track. In addition to his SK accomplishments at Stafford, the man known
simply as “TC” also picked up four track championships and 99 victories at
Thompson Speedway Motorsports Park (CT) and one SK Modified championship at
the New London-Waterford Speedbowl where he recorded 47 victories over all.
In addition to his many SK Modified wins Christopher recorded one NASCAR
Whelen Modified Tour championship and 48 NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour
victories between the northern and southern tours. He also scored 10 NASCAR
K&N Pro Series East victories in 92 starts. Christopher was named one of the
top 25 drivers in NASCAR's weekly series in 2006, when the series celebrated
its 25th anniversary. In 2008, Stafford named a section of its grandstand in
Christopher leaves behind his wife, Quinn, and his twin brother, Mike. While
he was both loved and despised by his fellow competitors and fans, the one
thing you can't say is that he wasn't a racer. He was one of a kind .
Colorful, controversial, a winner and a champion.
In his honor the Arute family that owns and operates the Stafford Motor
Speedway will retire his number 13 from weekly modified competition at
Stafford. “Since Ted’s first win in 1986 to his last win on September 8,
just 2 weeks ago, he has been a fixture at Stafford,” explained Stafford GM
Mark Arute. “We will miss TC but we will never forget him, we will retire
his number from weekly Modified racing at Stafford Speedway this Friday. The
number 13 is and always will be Ted’s number.”
Danny Watts Racing announced Pitkat as their choice for the weekend on
through a statement on Facebook on Monday, Sept 18.
In Friday night racing action at the Stafford Motor Speedway taking
feature wins were Matt Galko, who outlasted Chase Dowling, Ryan Preece, and
Ted Christopher in thrilling side by side duel that went on for 20 laps to
win the SK Modified® feature, Michael Bennett took down his fourth win of
the season in the Late Model feature, Brett Gonyaw scored his second win in
the SK Light feature, Duane Provost won his third race of the season in the
Ltd. Late Model feature, and Nicole Chambrello scored her first DARE Stock
feature win in nearly two years to the day.
With 28 laps complete in the SK Modified event, Galko and Dowling were
side by side for the lead but it was now single file behind the two leaders
with Ryan Preece, Ted Christopher, and Glen Reen making up the top-5 with
Tom Bolles still hanging strong in sixth.
With 5 laps to go, Galko and Dowling were still side by side for the race
lead with Preece, Christopher, and Reen lined up behind them. As they
completed lap-36 it was now two by two as Galko and Dowling were out front
with Preece and Christopher and lined up behind them.
As they took the white flag, it was a 5-car train for the lead. Galko was
able to get a good run coming out of turn 4 to beat Dowling and Preece to
the line by a car length. Dowling took second by inches over Preece with
Christopher beating Reen to the line by inches for fourth place.
Unknown at the time, it was Christopher’s last race as he would perish
the following day in a plane crash.
The New London-Waterford Speedbowl on Saturday night was subdued to say
the least when competitors and fans learned of the untimely passing of Ted
Christopher. The nights events were put on hold and a very special tribute
was held for the late great driver. Christopher’s SK Modified was paraded
around The Speedbowl by car owner Doug DiPisa as fellow drivers, officials,
safety workers and teams lined up the front stretch to honor Christopher. It
was a very touching moment not only for the fans but everybody who was in
Once racing resumed it was the SK Lites taking to the shoreline oval for
their 25-lap feature. It was Colchester, CT’s Brian Narducci taking his
second win in a row in only four starts at the shoreline oval. In victory
lane, a very emotional Narducci dedicated the win in honor of Christopher.
In the 30-lap Limited Sportsman feature it was Al Stone III taking down his
50th win. Stone dedicated his win to the memory of the fallen champ. In the
third race in the Connecticut Championship for the Pro-4 Modifieds, it was
Brett Meservey taking down the win. The 35-lap Mr. Rooter Pro Truck Series
was all Andy Lindeman.
Bruce Thomas Jr made his 2017 return to the Late Models and looked poised
to take down the 30-lap event. Thomas jumped out to the lead on lap-2 and
was running away with the race. Thomas’s luck soon changed as on the final
restart of the race, Keith Rocco would now battle Thomas for the lead. As
the green waved the yellow would appear as Thomas had a tire go down sending
him pit side and handing over the lead to Rocco . Rocco completed the last
couple of laps as the fog was starting to roll onto the track as the
checkered flew. In victory lane Rocco referred that he was a man of few
words as one could tell. Rocco and his brother Jeff were former pit crew
members of Christopher’s race team. Ryan Morgan finished second.
As the 35-lap SK Modified feature was lining up the fog continued to get
thicker and continued to roll in at a quick pace. The race was halted on
lap-23 as Matt Galko spun into the infield which not only brought out the
caution but the red / checkered came out as the fog continued to roll in,
causing visibility issues. Owen who was the leader at the time and was given
the win with Kyle James and Keith Rocco finishing second and third. Rounding
out the top-5 was Rob Janovic Jr and Tyler Chadwick, Jacob Perry finished
Out on the east end of Long Island at the Riverhead Raceway The NASCAR
Whelen Modified Tour was on tap. With heavy hearts after the news of the
passing of Ted Christopher the scheduled show went on despite the dark cloud
that hung over the speedway. Timmy Solomito kept his Riverhead Raceway roll
going in qualifying for the Miller Lite 200. Solomito piloted his No. 16
Starrett Racing Ford to a fast lap of 12.017 seconds around the Long Island
quarter-mile for his sixth career Coors Light Pole Award. It marked his
third at Riverhead, his home track. Rookie Kyle Soper was second fastest.
There were 23 cars on hand.
Timmy Solomito powered by Doug Coby with four laps left to take the
Miller Lite 200 checkered flag Saturday night at Riverhead Raceway.
Solomito, dominant for the first two-thirds of the event in the No. 16
Starrett Racing Ford, was outmaneuvered by Coby in lap traffic for the lead
on Lap 155. The four-time tour titlists Coby was poised for his first career
win at Riverhead, but Solomito recaptured the lead on the fronstretch on Lap
196 and drove to the checkers. It marked Solomito's fourth win of the season
and eighth of his career.
Coby held on for second with rookie Kyle Soper third, Ryan Preece fourth
and Justin Bonsignore fifth. CJ Lehmann, Dillon Steuer, Kyle Ellwood, Eric
Goodale and Rob Summer brought home the top 10.
Ten of the original 23 starters finished on the lead lap. The Riverhead
event will be shown taped delayed this Wednesday, Sept 20 at 7:00 PM on NBC
On the speedway stock market scene last week, two of the three speedway
stocks were down. The International Speedway Corporation went up 0.85 to
35.50 while Speedway Motorsports dropped 0.73 to 20.49 and Dover
Entertainment dropped 0.20 to 2.10. NASCAR cup sponsor Monster Beverage
dropped 0.14 to 56.18 while NASCAR fuel supplier Sunoco (Energy Transfer)
went up 0.28 to 18.83 and NASCAR tire supplier Goodyear went up 2.12 to
32.43. The car manufacturers had a positive week. Forf went up 0.26 to 11.62
while General Motors went up 1.88 to 38.88 and Toyota went up 2.72 to
117.69. In the home improvement sector, Home Depot dropped 1.26 to 158.40
and Lowes dropped 0.57 to 77.99. In NASCAR big teams sponsors stock,
McDonalds dropped 2.79 to 156.92 and Coca-Cola dropped 3.40 to 208.89 while
Target Department Stores jumped 7.69 to 59.96, Aarons Rentals went up 1.02
to 42.90 and Fedex jumped 4.35 to 214.83.
On the tube this week:
Wednesday, September 20
12:00 PM, NASCAR 120: Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Chicagoland race
6:00 PM, NASCAR America, NBC Sports Net
7:00 PM, NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour Riverhead NY NBCSN
Thursday, September 21
5:00 PM, NASCAR America, NBCSN
7:00 PM, NASCAR Special, NBCSN
Friday, September 22
11:30 AM, MENCS New Hampshire practice, NBCSN
1:30 PM, NASCAR Camping World Truck Series New Hampshire practice, FS1
3:30 PM, NCWTS New Hampshire final practice, FS1
4:00 PM, NASCAR Xfinity Series Kentucky practice, NBCSN
5:00 PM, MENCS New Hampshire qualifying, NBCSN
6:30 PM, NXS Kentucky final practice, NBCSN
Saturday, September 23
9:00 AM, MENCS New Hampshire practice, NBC Sports App
10:00 AM, NCWTS New Hampshire qualifying, FS1
11:30 AM, MENCS New Hampshire final practice, NBC Sports App
12:30 PM, NCWTS SetUp, FS1
1:00 PM, NCWTS New Hampshire race, FS1
5:30 PM, NXS Kentucky qualifying, NBCSN
7:00 PM, NASCAR Special, NBCSN
7:30 PM, NXS Countdown to Green, NBCSN
8:00 PM, NXS Kentucky race, NBCSN
Sunday, September 24
1:00 PM, NASCAR America Sunday, NBCSN
1:30 PM, MENCS Countdown to Green, NBCSN
2:00 PM, MENCS New Hampshire race, NBCSN
5:30 PM, MENCS Post Race Show, NBCSN
6:00 PM, NASCAR Victory Lap, NBCSN
Monday, September 25
12:00 PM, NASCAR 120: MENCS New Hampshire race re-air, NBCSN
6:00 PM, NASCAR America, NBCSN
That’s about it for this week from 11 Gardner Drive, Westerly, and
R.I.02891. Ring my chimes at 401-596-5467.
Phil Smith has been a columnist for
Speedway Scene and various
other publications for over 3 decades.
Smith / Champ Trail