Ted Christopher’s No. 13 Retired At Stafford Motor Speedway NAPA Fall Final

Drivers of the SK Modified division at Stafford Speedway hold a No. 13 flag during the number retirement ceremony Sunday at the track (Photo: Fran Lawlor)

STAFFORD – As Todd Owen battled near the front of the field in the SK Modified feature Sunday at the NAPA Fall Final at Stafford Motor Speedway, he waited for a familiar phrase from his spotter that never came.

“I can’t help but say I kept waiting for somebody to say ‘The 13 is coming.’” Owen said. “Because every race, Spring Sizzler to the Fall Final, [Ted Christopher] was always the guy to get there somehow. It’s definitely never going to be the same here without him.”

Christopher and the No. 13 have been together since Christopher started competing at Stafford Motor Speedway in 1983. Along the way Christopher became the track’s all-time winningest driver.

Christopher was killed in a plane crash on Sept. 16. Sunday at Stafford Motor Speedway his No. 13 was retired from competition at the track.

“There is no way to describe what Ted Christopher and the No. 13 has meant to all of us,” track announcer Ben Dodge said during the retirement ceremony prior to the running of the SK Modified feature. “The excitement, the controversy and ever lasting moments created in our mind by The King. TC. Ted Christopher. These lasting moments will be with us forever.”

Christopher’s twin brother Michael was not at the track, but offered a statement from the Christopher family.

“Ted’s wife Quinn, my mom Lucy, sister Judy and my wife Jennifer thank you for the outpouring of support, friendship, prayers and personal tributes in honor of my brother Teddy. The past two weeks have been unimaginably painful for our family and friends with the tragic and sudden loss of my brother. We’d like to thank the Arute family and the TC fans and competitors for honoring Teddy to retire his iconic number 13 from competition at Stafford. My brother loved racing at Stafford and this tribute would mean the world to him. Thank you for honoring Teddy’s memory and his enormous list of accomplishments today and for many years to come.”

Christopher had 109 career SK Modified victories at Stafford and nine championships in the division. He had 131 victories at the track overall. He had a division leading six SK Modified victories this year, with his last win coming on Sept. 8. He finished fourth in his final SK Modified feature at the track on Sept. 15.

Keith Rocco, Christopher’s longtime crew member, protégé, competitor and close friend went on to win the 40-lap SK Modified feature and his third division championship.

“This is …, this is a tough one,” said Rocco in victory lane, his voice cracking with emotion. “This is for the whole Christopher family. The team. They’re all back here behind me. I just, I wish it was different.”

After winning the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour NAPA Fall Final 150 Sunday, Eric Goodale of reminisced about passing Christopher to win his first series event in 2014.  Sunday’s victory was Goodale first at Stafford Speedway.

“I passed Ted Christopher for my first Whelen Modified Tour win at Riverhead [Raceway] with 25 laps to go,” Goodale said. “… There’s not many people that can say that. He came up to me with a big smile on his face and called me a son of a bitch, and we laughed. That was pretty cool.

“I grew up watching Teddy race. To finally get a win here [at Stafford] where he’s won so many times and I’ve watched him pass a million cars here, it really is sentimentally valuable that you just can’t replicate.”

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  1. Fast Eddie says:

    I have to comment on yet another example of how well known TC was. On 9/24 there was a big NHRA drag race in Pennsylvania. Tom Martino, a former very accomplished racer and engine builder of both drag race and circle track engines in New Jersey had a chance to drive a customer’s car in Competition Eliminator. Although he hadn’t driven in a number of years he won the race. The winner’s interview for the TV coverage included acknowledging knowing TC and thinking about him all weekend. When asked about his key to winning, he said he never backed off (the throttle). He said he drove like Ted Christopher, because he never backed off either! I just thought that was really cool!

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