Remembering The King: Somberness And Celebration At Stafford Speedway For Ted Christopher

Flags fly in honor Friday at the spot in the Stafford Speedway pit area where Ted Christopher parked his SK Modified weekly

STAFFORD – For much of the 2017 racing season Canton’s Curt Brainard has pondered getting his SK Modified out of the shop and returning to action at Stafford Motor Speedway.

Brainard competed in the SK Modified division at Stafford full-time from 1990 to 2014 and ran part-time in 2015. Over that span he had plenty of battles on the half-mile oval at Stafford with Ted Christopher.

Brainard said when he heard of Christopher’s death in a plane crash last Saturday he decided he had waited long enough to get back to the track.

Friday, while preparing for the 40-lap feature at Stafford Motor Speedway, Brainard lamented Christopher’s well known “Three-tap rule” which was, first tap is telling you I’m here, second tap is telling you to pick a lane, third tap, I’m picking the lane for you.”

“It was the like the three-tap rule,” Brainard said. “I don’t think I ever felt three taps from Teddy. It was usually one tap and then my lane was chosen for me. When I got the news Saturday afternoon, that was the first tap and I knew I needed to choose a lane and come up here to honor him tonight.”

Brainard was just one of hundreds of competitors, crew members, staff and fans at Stafford Motor Speedway Friday remembering Christopher in the first event at the track since his death.

Christopher, 59, was the all-time winningest driver at Stafford with 131 career victories, including 109 in the SK Modified division. Around Stafford Speedway he was known as The King.

This season at Stafford Christopher had a division leading six victories in the SK Modified division. He finished fourth in the SK Modified feature in his final start at the track on Sept. 15.

Friday night at Stafford was equal parts somber and celebratory.

When the main gates opened at the track, under overcast and misty conditions at 5:15 p.m., fans streamed to get in line to purchase t-shirts specially made memorializing Christopher. Within five minutes of the gates opening about 200 fans were standing in line to purchase shirts.

At 5:46 p.m., the weekly driver’s meeting began with a prayer from Racing With Jesus Ministries.

The voice of Tom Fox, Stafford Speedway’s director of racing operations, cracked with emotion as he addressed drivers.

Before taking on an official’s role at Stafford, Fox was a longtime competitor of Christopher’s across short tracks of New England.

“It’s extremely hard,” Fox said. “He was like family. You couldn’t have asked for a better guy to understand what I’ve got going on here. And he treated me right. Better than anybody.”

At 7:20 p.m. track announcer Ben Dodge began the opening ceremonies for the evening’s event by addressing fans.

“Some people are blessed with something special that will remain in our hearts forever,” Dodge said. “Ted Christopher has done that. A man with a bounce in his step, a unique style and humor that made us all feel good. … There will never be another Teddy Christopher, but a part The King, the one, the only, the great Teddy Christopher, will be with us in all of our hearts forever.”

Sixteen year old Bryan Narducci won the 20-lap Limited Late Model feature and honored Christopher by parking next to victory lane and leaving the spot open. Narducci is a close friend of Christopher’s nephew Mike Christopher Jr.

“To win tonight at the track he dominated at just means everything to me,” Narducci said. “He was my hero. Still is. Growing up with Michael all these years made me see the soft side of him, which was better than the race side of him. He was a great guy. … Some people thought he was a bad guy because of sometimes the way he drove, but that wasn’t the case. He was a great guy. He would do anything for you. I would do anything to have him back.”

Brainard said one of the things he respected most about Christopher was that he built many of the cars he raced in.

“That’s what I’ve prided myself in, and I think in part Teddy and I had a mutual respect because of that,” Brainard said. “Teddy knew what I was doing and knew that a lot of times it didn’t make sense. He was just an incredible guy in all aspects of racing and life.”

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Comments

  1. There were certainly many sincere tributes to Teddy tonight, but what transpired at the end of the SK feature was, for me, especially classy and heartfelt and touching.

    Thank you to the creative and thoughtful Arute family for all of this tonight. I’ve spent a significant amount of time this week contemplating the life and legend of a man I’ve rooted against more often than not.
    But on this Friday night I exited the grandstands with nothing but the warmest regards for my memories of Teddy Christopher…

    Rest In Peace TC

  2. Well said Bryan

  3. Thanks Paul

  4. carter mcnabb says:

    “Every man dies but not every man really lives.” William Wallace 1270-1305 Scotland,,, Ted really lived, my heart goes out to the entire family and all his fans. RIP Ted

  5. carter mcnabb says:

    William Wallace 1270-1305 of Scotland said “Every man dies but not every man really lives.” Ted really lived, my heart goes out to the entire family and all his fans. RIP TC

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