Family Legacy: Mike Christopher Jr. To Race At Stafford With Uncle Ted Christopher’s SK Modified

Mike Christopher Jr. (left) and Ted Christopher after Mike’s first Legends car victory at the New London-Waterford Speedbowl in 2014 (Photo: Mark Caise)

The roots of the Christopher family racing legacy run deep in the fabric that is Stafford Motor Speedway history.

The “SK Modified” is a racing vehicle that was envisioned and created by the Arute family at Stafford Motor Speedway and it’s a car that the late Ted Christopher made the cornerstone of his legendary short track racing career.

Ted Christopher had 109 career SK Modified division victories on the half-mile Stafford oval, 62 more than the next closest driver on the all-time winner’s list.

Before his tragic death in a plane crash on Sept. 16, 2017, the 59-year old Christopher was already in the beginning stages of planning his exit from competition at Stafford. And that plan, not surprisingly, involved his nephew Mike Christopher Jr. taking over behind the wheel of his cars.

That vision Ted Christopher had will move forward through the organization and plans of his widow Quinn Christopher and his twin brother Michael Christopher Sr.

In 2018 Mike Christopher Jr. will take over as the driver for the SK Modified operation his uncle Ted Christopher was racing for at Stafford right up until the night before his death.

“I know that this is what Teddy ultimately wanted, was to have little Michael race his car,” Quinn Christopher told RaceDayCT Friday. “Even if he didn’t pass away, this was going to happen within the next couple years. It was very important to keep Teddy’s dream alive. And that is why I want little Michael to race that car and I know it’s what Teddy wanted.”

Michael Christopher Jr. has been competing full-time in the SK Modified division at Stafford since the start of the 2015 season.

“I’m really grateful that my auntie Quinn is allowing me to do this,” Mike Christopher Jr. said. “I know she’s really excited about it too. She says that she wants to go to the races and she wants to be a part of the team. I’m really looking forward to that part. You know, this is the family business and having everyone together and having fun is the main goal. To be at the race track doing that with all of us is going to be pretty fun.”

Longtime crew member and close friend of Ted Christopher, Mike O’Sullivan, will continue as an integral part of the program with Mike Christopher Jr.

Many of the sponsors of Ted Christopher’s program have already reached out to the family in support of Mike Christopher Jr. taking over.

Ted Christopher, who is the all-time winningest driver overall at Stafford Motor Speedway with 131 victories, began racing in his No. 13 SK Modified at Stafford in 1983 and won his first race in the division in 1986. He had a division leading six victories in 2017 in the SK Modified at Stafford, his last coming on Sept. 8. Ted Christopher had nine career SK Modified championships at Stafford with the first coming in 1987 and further titles coming in 1996, 2000, 2001, 2004, 2007, 2009, 2012 and 2014.

Michael Christopher Sr. is fifth on the Stafford SK Modified division all-time win list with 28 career victories and had SK Modified championships at Stafford in 1989, 1990 and 1993. His last win at the track came in 2002.

Mike Christopher Jr. will continue to run with No. 82 that he has run since 2015, the number his father ran previously at the track. Stafford Motor Speedway retired Christopher’s No. 13 from competition at the track at the NAPA Fall Final last year. Mike Christopher Jr. said living up to the pressure of being the nephew of one of the greatest short track drivers of the past three decades won’t change anymore now that he is driving his uncle’s car.

“The pressure has always been there,” Mike Christopher Jr. said. “It’s been there since the beginning. I don’t really look at the pressure as holding me back because it’s always been there. I just need to put it to the side and do my thing. I think what we have this year and the experience that I have the past three years racing and the confidence that I have this year is something that I’ve never felt any other year racing in the [SK Modifieds]. I think that going into this year, putting all that pressure aside and just going out there racing with my dad, my mom and my aunt and just going out there for fun, we’re going to accomplish some great things.”

Mike Christopher Jr. said the car he formerly drove at Stafford, with the backing of Al Heinke of Mohawk Northeast of Southington, will remain as part of their plans.

The final victory of Ted Christopher’s career came in an SK Modified in a feature at Thompson Speedway on Sept. 10. It was his 99th career feature victory at Thompson. Mike Christopher Jr. is hoping to keep his uncle’s legacy going at Thompson also.

“I plan on running Al Heinke’s car, the Mohawk Northeast Car, either as a backup for our Stafford car or run some races at Thompson,” Mike Christopher Jr. said. “… Right now Mr. Heinke is updating the chassis at Troyer, so we’ll have a pretty good car for wherever we bring it. I know he supports our change at Stafford to be running the other car. We’re grateful for everything he’s done for us the past three years. It’s been great. … If the chance comes to run Thompson I’ll be really excited to do that. I’ve been watching races there as long as I’ve been watching races at Stafford. That’s exciting to go to a different track and race there.”

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Comments

  1. I know they had to retire the 13 but it would have been great to see young Mike fly the same colors. All and all pretty great story line. Really confused about the state of limbo the 82 is in. Why not plug another driver in it. Better yet Mike Sr. make a couple appearances in it at big races. Now that would get more butts in the seats.

  2. Nice seeing them carry on TC’s wishes. Mikey Jr will bring the house down when he rolls it into victory lane. I’m all in on Mike Sr getting back behind the wheel but I’m not sure we’ll see that.

  3. Great news little Mike has the talent to run up front I kinda had the feeling that he would eventually end up in Ted’s car but with Ted as crew chief unfortunately God had other plans but with O’Sullivan staying on and with his dad’s talent he could be a threat to win some races and possibly a championship. Liked how he said it’s all about having fun. Hope the best for him looking forward to seeing his first victory

  4. SK ModFan says:

    This is wonderful news. Mike Jr is a great young man, his family is great and the kid is a driver that is fun to watch. He’s been Getting better every year in the toughest class of racing around. And having the Christopher family back at the track will bring back some level of normalcy that we all want after the passing of Uncle Ted. I’m very happy to hear this news!

  5. I absolutely know that the idea of Mike Sr, a 60 year old guy that has not driven in decades stepping into a ride in the SK’s now is an unrealistic expectation. Nor if he did is it fair to expect him to regenerate the magic he provided as a driver so long ago. Nor would the comparisons to his twin brother be fair since he is an accomplished person in his own right. None the less hope floats. To see him come out in the 82, his old number at the SK5K would be mind blowing no matter what place he finished in the feature.

  6. Mike Jr regardless of his new ride is not and will never be the reincarnation of Ted Christopher. He’s a capable, safe driver that takes what he’s given, doesn’t wreck equipment resulting from knucklehead moves, doesn’t say the wrong things and rubs few people the wrong way. He had good finishes at times when he started up front and finished 11th in points about where you’d expect. He’ll drive what they say is TC’s old ride but it won’t have the same number and won’t contain the same magic that came from Ted’s relentless drive to perfection.
    Mike Jr will be a whole new thing. The big news here is Quinn Christopher is all in and the band is continuing on with a new lead singer and the financial support of some heavy hitters. What results will be something we don’t know about nor have any experience with.The theory could be he is around the same age group as Dowling and will have superior equipment like Dowling so a rivalry may develop. Or not but whatever happens it will be new and pretty cool to see unfold.

  7. Joe Lajoie says:

    Doug, please do some research before you type. Decades?? Mike Sr. ran the Loudon Tour races up until 5 years ago.
    He would be more than capable if he got back into any modified.

  8. I’ve said Joe I always value your comments cause you know what you’re talking about. Why you always feel it has to come in the form of a dagger with a sarcastic tone I don’t know. And why you can’t correct and build on the information I also don’t know.
    So how about you dial back the chip, explain his Loudon Tour experience to all we ignorant souls and connect it to the SK’s and his success decades ago at Stafford.

  9. For all those more interested in information and less so about throwing darts here is what this site has on Mike Sr.
    http://racedayct.com/2014/07/mike-christopher-sr-looking-to-return-to-whelen-mod-tour-action-in-loudon/
    Anyone that can build on that would be great.

  10. Ron welch says:

    I can’t begin to tell you how I enjoyed, this artical on TC I live in Texas and am a ling time CT mid fan back in the bill slater, don collinf, Ted stack era but follow still the best I can

  11. Indeed Mike Sr. did run the WMT races at the NHMS up until 2012 and here’s his record for those that are curious.
    http://racing-reference.info/rquery?id=chrismi01&trk=063&series=N
    Ron, suggest you go to sidsview.com and view his history of the Waterford Speedbowl. Hours of viewing fun with Bill Slater, Don Collins and Ted Stack mentioned prominently.

  12. Henry Lecomte says:

    I grew up going to Stafford and in all honesty I hated the Christophers. However I began to appreciate the Driver and More so the person that He was and If lil Mikey is anything close to his uncle and Dad then everyone hold on because its gonna be one hell of a ride.Teddy and big Mike were a Little older when they started Mike jr has the ability and now the equipment to be great Teddy built these cars specifically for the tracks he raced them at.Go get,em Kiddo make Uncle Ted proud and prove that your not in the equipment cause of your name your in it because your the Right person for the job.2018 the Year of M.C.jr

  13. Yikes dude, of course he’s in the equipment because he is a Christopher. Did he earn it like his dad or uncle. No way. So what? It’s a legacy ride. Racing is full of them including Mr. Earnhart Jr. and very successful Will he make the most of it and win, unknown. I say he’s average and unlikely to wow but hope I’m wrong. Will it be super interesting to watch………guaranteed.

  14. Christopher says:

    Personally, Mike was a better driver than Ted. He did so much with MUCH LESS. That’s a fact, I was around both when they raced each other and ran up front. I truly believe Mike Sr would have no problems at all racing today. No problems at all. A little rust here and there and Mike Sr would be right up front again.
    But this is huge for Mike Jr., top team, manpower, equipment, can’t ask for much more than that. I’d love to see the 82 race Waterford!!! It would really be great seeing him race each weekend twice!!! Great racing!!!

  15. Christopher says:

    I think he still has the tour car, I’m not sure. But no doubt, I was really hoping Mike Sr would run Teds car for a season or 2. But, Mike Jr is going to get some great seat time in one of the premier SK Mods on the track!!!

  16. Thanks for the Mike Sr history. Then again,most of us here saw it in person, live, as it happened. It’s all on the Stafford webpage too. In the history section. Obviously, some have never seen Mike Sr race but will write endless posts about his career regardless.

    I agree Mike was better than TC. Mike stepped aside, TC didn’t. Mike Jr has some seriously good modified bloodlines. Maybe we can talk the old man back for one last run???

  17. Snarky as always aye Mark. I’ll tell you and your buddies “most of us” my new policy for 2018. You’re one of the rabid dogs with a complete lack of self awareness that it is futile to mix it up with so knock yourself out on the taunts and whining about my posts. Seems to me you get a great deal of pleasure complaining about what I do wrong and what I don’t know.
    What I can say is that I was there to see Mike, Ted, Bo Gunning, John Anderson,Bob Potter and many more in the 80’s and 90’s do battle at Stafford. Ted, John and Bo were the loose cannons, Mike less so and Potter always smooth as glass. At the time Mike was clearly better then Ted and Potter better then them all in my view.
    At the end of the day all you highly knowledgeable types are saying is Mike Sr is more then capable of stepping into a Stafford SK at any time. So I can hold out hope that we may see him next year in his famed 82 at which time it would bring the house down.

  18. Can’t get enough of the Christophers? Check this out.
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qA_oOE7O2zA

  19. DOUG give it a rest and the rest of us a break, half the posts are you with the same thing HOLY CRAP

  20. Elect poor boy. Not paying attention aye. Don’t care what you think. There are 19 entries here and I’m the only one passing on links that provide people with more information. Information that you assume no one cares about. I click on links and if you want to be uncurious don’t assume everyone is. Meanwhile you and people like you whine and add nothing to the information provided. You just whine like Mark.

  21. DOUG give it a rest and the rest of us a break,( BECAUSE I HAVE NOTHING TO ADD AND WANT TO COMPLAIN AND NOT ADD ANYTHING TO THE CONVERSATION) half the posts are you (AND I DON’T CARE IF YOU HAVE LINKS I CAN LEARN STUFF FROM BECAUSE I DON’T CARE) .with the same thing HOLY CRAP (HOLY CRAP IS THE BEST I HAVE TO OFFER IN THIS ENTIRE ENTRY)

  22. I’m going to say Elect that you above all I have nothing but contempt for. You haven’t added one thing to the thread except a complaint about me. Even the permanent whiner Mark made a point. You are the lowest of the thread entries, complaints without substance. There’s no purpose for you to exist.

  23. Doug, I’m not sure what you think “earning a ride” consists of but Mike jr. has run wild thing karts,legends,sk lites and then sk’s in that order. That’s not enough experience to earn his seat? Now I’m not saying his last name didn’t help but it’s not like he drove one season of dare stocks and jumped to a great sk ride.

  24. Whoa, whoa, whao Brian. You’re making it sound like I’m suggesting he isn’t qualified to drive the car that clearly I never said or implied. I said he didn’t earn it like his dad or uncle and he didn’t. I said he’s getting a legacy ride which he is. Now if you’re trying to tell me he faced the same challenges his dad and uncle faced coming up through the ranks I would disagree with that.

  25. Brian, here is what I posted above. I’d be interested to know what you disagree with.

    Mike Jr regardless of his new ride is not and will never be the reincarnation of Ted Christopher. He’s a capable, safe driver that takes what he’s given, doesn’t wreck equipment resulting from knucklehead moves, doesn’t say the wrong things and rubs few people the wrong way. He had good finishes at times when he started up front and finished 11th in points about where you’d expect. He’ll drive what they say is TC’s old ride but it won’t have the same number and won’t contain the same magic that came from Ted’s relentless drive to perfection.
    Mike Jr will be a whole new thing. The big news here is Quinn Christopher is all in and the band is continuing on with a new lead singer and the financial support of some heavy hitters. What results will be something we don’t know about nor have any experience with.The theory could be he is around the same age group as Dowling and will have superior equipment like Dowling so a rivalry may develop. Or not but whatever happens it will be new and pretty cool to see unfold.

  26. Mary Bennaughty says:

    Dougy TC had it rough? He Drove for James Galante who spare NO nickle Pleeease!

  27. Doug, the way I read your post was that the only reason Mike jr was driving Teddy’s car was his last name which I don’t agree with. For me personally when I see the term ” legacy ride” I think it devalues all the time,money,and effort that it took to be successful in every step of Mike jr’s racing career up till this point. Did he have the added benefit of great advice, knowledge of car set ups that work and great equipment? Yes he did but he had to run them to the front and gain the respect of his peers to be successful. Like I said before the term “legacy ride” just sounds like he didn’t earn it and I think that couldn’t be further from the truth in this case. Like Mary said also Teddy had Galante money to buy the best of the best.

  28. At the start of your story about Christopher, you say that the SK division was envisioned and
    created by the Arute family, that’s not true and should be corrected.
    The SK division started at Danbury fair grounds in 1978 and was called the Sportsman Division.
    The Arutes didn’t do anything until Danbury closed down.
    Please get your facts correct.

  29. Thanks for the response Brian. Then we both agree that young Christopher is fully qualified to drive any car in the SK modifieds. And yes I believe he is not the most qualified driver to drive an elite, multi feature winning, well funded car capable of winning any race. He’s the only logical Christopher to drive the car. That clearly is the priority and that’s aces with me. Thanks again.

  30. Jim, outstanding and correct. That story Stafford makes so sound innovative and grand is equal parts history and promotion. Jack Arute didn’t have a vision. He was being squeezed by the cost of modifieds and dwindling car counts. They had the SK’s with the modifieds and Street Stocks from 82 to 86. 87 to 89 it was SK’s and Streets only and it was a disaster I can attest as a season ticket holder. Empty stands.
    The race team owner managed Southern New York Racing Association that the cars operated under at the Danbury RaceArena did initiate the Sportsman Stafford would copy. And it was part copying since Arute was a really smart guy and surely knew the Danbury Sportman were a success almost from the start with great car counts. The SK’s grew into the premier division but it is true they started as the second division to the modifieds that is exactly what Danbury’s Sportsman were. Good call.

  31. Best of luck to Mike, jr. in the 82. Not for nothing Mary and Brian, TC ran his own equipment before and after Jim Gallante. He won before and after. Check the wins and championships if you’re a non-believer.

  32. Doug I’am glad that someone else knows the history about the SK’s, because we raced at the
    fairgrounds in the sportsman division.

  33. Anytime I see the Danbury RaceArena Jim it’s pleasing. Grew up going there. Chick Stockwell was my step cousin and Chick Sr who had Lou Judson driving his 155 in the 60’s was my uncle. We see Danbury mentioned so little here and it’s a shame since it was so hugely successful for the better party of three decades. Even successful when it closed.

  34. Mary Bennaughty says:

    Mazda you must be like in first grade WE NEVER said TC never won in his own stuff!!! Your aTROLL! Get glasses understand the conversation pionts then post.

  35. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qA_oOE7O2zA
    Given Ted’s death, the continuation of his team with the support of his widow, Mike Sr’s role in continuing the tradition if you don’t watch this video you’re missing a lot.
    Mike Jr is pretty typical for a lot of guys today. They come into the sport with funding and purchased knowledge and consider driving their only learning curve to navigate. But for any of them to get anywhere they need a brain trust and for Jr that is his dad. And his dad came up the hard way building a lot of his own stuff including motors along with his brother. That’s not nothing. That deserves a ton of respect.

  36. Out of respect for Shawn and this site, no reply needed. Again, best wishes to the 82 for this season.

  37. Did a little deeper dive on Mike Jr for the 2017 season at Stafford.
    He raced in 15 features. He raced in none after the death of his uncle.
    He came in 11th in points that would clearly have been in the top 10 had he raced in the last three events.
    In 15 features he finished better in 4 events and worse in 11. The four is split evenly over the first half and second half of the season so he stayed pretty much that same.
    His average starting position was 7.9 and finish 10.7.
    The competition we all know is brutal in the SK’s so I don’t know if these numbers are OK or even if the 82 was ever any better then an 11th place car on average. But it will be interesting to see if there is a marked change in performance when he takes over his uncles ride and fun to watch.

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