NASCAR legend Ted Christopher was one of two people killed when a small plane crashed in a Connecticut forest Saturday.
The FAA said that there were two people aboard a Mooney M20C plane that went down near the border of North Branford and Guilford shortly before 2 p.m. Saturday. Initially, they didn’t release the names of the victims.
The Chairman and CEO of NASCAR, Brian France said that the plane’s pilot and Christopher, 59, died in the crash. The National Transportation Sarefy Board is on its way to investigate the accident and the details of the plane’s itinerary hasn’t been released yet, USA Today is reporting.
Chritopher won 13 track championships and competed in every level of NASCAR during his long career. In 2006, he was picked as one of the top 25 drivers in NASCAR. Condolences were pouring in.
Heard the news of this just moments after walking into VL. Very sad. He was a legend. https://t.co/oOtdDjF58J
— Dale Earnhardt Jr. (@DaleJr) September 16, 2017
“Heard the news of this just moments after walking into VL. Very sad. He was a legend.” Wrote Dale Earnhardt Jr.
So very sad to hear of Ted Christopher's passing…Greatness passes into Legend #RIP
— Kyle Petty (@kylepetty) September 16, 2017
“So very sad to hear of Ted Christopher’s passing…Greatness passes into Legend #RIP” Tweeted Kyle Petty
Wow can't believe the news of Ted Christopher. Thoughts and prayers are with his friends and family. RIP!
— Kyle Larson (@KyleLarsonRacin) September 16, 2017
“Wow can’t believe the news of Ted Christopher. Thoughts and prayers are with his friends and family. RIP!” racer Kyle Larson wrote.
— Corey LaJoie (@CoreyLaJoie) September 16, 2017
“Heartbroken. Today short track racing just lost one of THE BEST ever. Today many just lost a great friend. RIP TC.” Corey La Joie wrote.
NASCAR’s chairman said in a statement:
“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.”
Christopher was scheduled to compete Saturday night at the Riverhead Raceway in New York. Traffic officers had a tribute to him by having his car driven for a ceremonial lap and a moment of silence.
Christopher was an aggressive driver, known for his infamous “Three Tap Rule” when passing cars in front of him, though his driving style changed in his later career and has brought more success to his racing career.
Christopher won the NASCAR Weekly Series national championship in 2001 by winning 15 of the 18 races that he entered, clinching it at Thompson International Speedway in Connecticut. Author Shawn Coirchesne wrote of Christopher:
In 2008, Christopher won the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour championship. Christopher, who is known as one of the most accomplished drivers in the Northeast, had never won the Whelen Modified Tour championship. He did so in fashion, winning both the championship and the final race of the season at Thompson International Speedway. Christopher came into the race leading the championship standings over Matt Hirschman by 31 points. Late in the race, Hirschman suffered an electrical problem, which put him a handful of laps off the pace. Christopher drove on to win the event, with Hirschman finishing 21 laps down in 25th position. It was his 31st career win in his 12th full-time year of competition.
Ironically, three years prior in 2005, Christopher went to the season finale at Thompson holding a 36-point lead over Hirschman’s father, five-time tour champion Tony Hirschman, only to lose the championship due to a crash on lap 11.