Tom Herzig's Trackside: Ted Christopher loved playing the villainBy TOM HERZIG
September 21. 2017 12:53AM
THE MOMENTS leading up to the start of the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour F.W. Webb 100 at New Hampshire Motor Speedway will be poignant Saturday as race fans, collectively and individually, reflect on the career of short track legend Ted Christopher, who perished in a plane crash in Guilford, Conn., last Saturday.
The tragedy prompted this response from NHMS Executive Vice President and General Manager David McGrath: “The short track community is one of the tightest-knit groups in motor sports, and today it lost one of its most passionate, talented and well-respected members. 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.”
One could fill several racing columns with the exploits of Ted Christopher, a.k.a. “TC” or, with a lift of the eyebrows and a tilt of the head, “Teddy”.
Here’s a sampling. He won 48 NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour events, including five at NHMS and he was the 2008 Modified Tour champion. He won over 370 races, nine SK Modified championships at Stafford (Conn.) Motor Speedway, where he is the all-time winningest driver, and four track titles at Thompson (Conn.) Speedway (99 wins). He won more Stafford Spring Sizzlers (six) than anyone else.
Since his last Modified victory on the Magic Mile in 2008, Christopher had six top-five finishes at Loudon, including two runner-ups. At NHMS in July, despite breaking a bone in his hand in a big front stretch pile-up, he came from the rear of the field to finish seventh.
On the same weekend at NHMS in 2005, Christopher won both the K&N Pro Series East (full-fendered) event and the Modified Tour race. In 2011 in his first race ever at Airborne Speedway, he won an ISMA Supermodified race for owner Clyde Booth.
Christopher relished the black hat-villain role he created for himself by winning so much and by the way he did it, which to the dismay of many, often involved a lot of front bumper knockaround.
His ability, determination, swagger and wit made every race he was in more compelling than it would have been otherwise.
As an added benefit for the media, Christopher was accessible and quotable. Phone calls got returned.
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TIMMY SOLOMITO passed Doug Coby with four to go to win the Whelen Modified Miller Lite 200 at Riverhead (N.Y.) Raceway. Coby held off Long Islander Kyle Soper for second place.
This Saturday’s NHMS schedule includes the ninth annual American Canadian Tour (ACT) Invitational. The man to beat is Eddie MacDonald. He has won five of the first eight races, including the last two. He has taken home over $39,000 in winnings since the inaugural race in 2009.
Jimmy Hebert of Williamstown, Vt., will likely be a contender. He was leading last year’s race until a late caution put MacDonald at his door. In seven qualifying sessions during a daylong practice a couple of weeks ago, Hebert posted the quickest lap seven times.
White Mountain welcomes in the PASS Super Late Models for 150 green flag laps Saturday.
There was an exciting wheels-in-the-air finish in the recent PASS event at Beech Ridge.
Local favorite Garrett Hall of Scarborough, Maine, needed a tow to get to victory lane after edging Ben Rowe by a margin of .012 of a second.
Defending PASS champion DJ Shaw was third, ahead of Travis Benjamin, Allen Tardiff and Derek Griffith.
Glen Luce of Turner, Maine, is the PASS points leader. He leads Benjamin by five points. Shaw and Rowe are still mathematically alive, but they’ll need help.
Steve Duphily of Plaistow won the Autism Awareness Supers feature at Star Speedway. Brad Babb of Windham, Maine, recovered from early trouble to finish second and clinch the track title.
The rest of Star’s divisions will decide their champions when racing resumes at the Epping oval on Saturday, Sept. 30.
Lee USA finished its weekly points racing schedule Friday.
This Saturday, a Demolition Derby/Night of Destruction, including spectator drags and a four-cylinder Enduro, begins at 5 p.m.
The 2017 Lee champions are: Dave Helliwell of Pelham (Rodfather Supermodifiedsm second in a row); Frankie Eldredge of Exeter (R&R Tools Late Model Sportsman); Boe Green of Berwick, Maine (David’s Race Cars Hobby Stocks); Tyler Mailhot of Epping (M&M Diagnostic Pure Stocks), and Christin DeStefano (Tri-City Line-X Ironman).
Note the earlier than usual post time for Saturday’s DIRTcar Sportsman Modified 100 at Bear Ridge Speedway. It’s 4:30 p.m.
Tom Herzig’s column appears weekly in the New Hampshire Union Leader. Email him at email@example.com.
On Track This Weekend
Legion Speedway: Friday 7 p.m.
NHMS: Saturday 1 p.m.
White Mountain: Saturday 6 p.m.
Bear Ridge (Vt.): Saturday 4:30 p.m.
Lee USA: Saturday 5 p.m.
NHMS: Sunday 2 p.m.