Exclusive: Ted Christopher, Mike Stefanik Lead 2018 New England Racing Hall Of Fame Induction Class

Ted Christopher (Photo: Getty Images for NASCAR)

A pair of Modified racing legends lead a group of eight competitors that will make up the 2018 induction class for the New England Auto Racing NEAR Hall of Fame, a source close to NEAR told RaceDayCT on Monday.

The late Ted Christopher and Mike Stefanik will be inducted during the annual Hall of Fame induction ceremony on Nov. 11 in South Windsor.

Christopher, of Plainville, was killed in a plane crash on Sept. 16, 2017 while travelling to a NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour event at Riverhead (N.Y.) Raceway. Christopher was 59 years old.

Stefanik, of Coventry, R.I., was a seven-time Whelen Modified Tour champion and two-time NASCAR K&N Pro Series East champion and is the all-time winningest Whelen Modified Tour driver with 74 career victories.

Christopher got his start in go-kart racing and moved on to the SK Modified division at Stafford Speedway in the early 1980’s. He was known as one of the leading and most diverse short track drivers in America.

He was the 2001 NASCAR Whelen All-American Series national short track champion. He also won the 2008 NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour championship.

Ted Christopher following his SK Modified victory on Sept. 10, 2017 at Thompson Speedway, the final victory of his career.

Christopher was the all-time winningest driver at both Stafford Motor Speedway and Thompson Speedway. He was also a longtime regular competitor at the New London-Waterford Speedbowl.

At the time of his death Christopher was still competing full-time on the Whelen Modified Tour and also in the SK Modified divisions at Stafford, Thompson and the New London-Waterford Speedbowl. He had six Whelen Modified Tour victories at Stafford in 2017 and 109 career SK Modified victories at the track overall, along with nine championships in the division.

Overall he had 131 victories at the Stafford since 1986. At Thompson Speedway he had won an SK Modified feature on Sept. 10, just days before his death. It was his 99th career victory at Thompson. At the New London-Waterford Speedbowl he had 48 career victories.

Christopher was the third winningest driver of all-time on the Whelen Modified Tour with 42 career victories in 372 starts dating back to the 1987 season.

Christopher long had a reputation for racing anything anytime. From local Midgets divisions, to SuperModifieds, to indoor events in Three-Quarter Midgets to competing twice at the top level of Sports Car racing at the Rolex 24 Hours of Daytona. He had made six career starts in NASCAR’s top-level Monster Energy Cup Series. He had 21 career starts in NASCAR’s second level Xfinity Series. In NASCAR’s regional K&N Pro Series East he had 10 career victories in 92 starts from 1990 to 2008.

The 60-year old Stefanik got his start in racing in the mid-1970’s in full-fendered divisions at Stafford and the former Riverside Park Speedway in Agawam, Mass.

Stefanik won his first Whelen Modified Tour title in 1989 and went on to win championships in the division again in 1991, ’97, ’98, 2001, ’02 and ’06.

Mike Stefanik shows off his NASCAR championship rings (Photo: Howie Hodge for NASCAR)

Stefanik’s legendary status in short track racing was cemented in 1997 and 1998 when he also won Busch North Series (now K&N Pro Series East) titles in the same years he won Whelen Modified Tour titles.

Stefanik made 453 Whelen Modified Tour starts over 29 seasons with 223 top-five’s, 301 top-10’s and 35 career poles to go with his 74 victories. Reggie Ruggiero sits second on the Whelen Modified Tour win list, 30 victories behind Stefanik at 44.

Stefanik had 12 career K&N Pro Series East victories in 164 starts over 12 seasons. Over his career Stefanik made 28 career starts in the NASCAR XFINITY Series. He also made 26 starts in the Camping World Truck Series, running the division full-time in 1999.

He ran his last full-time season on the Whelen Modified Tour in 2013, recording two wins. He made four starts with the Whelen Modified Tour in 2014. His last start with the division was a 10th place finish in the F.W. Webb 100 on Sept. 20, 2014 at New Hampshire Motor Speedway.

Drivers under 60 years old are eligible for induction five years after they stop competing full-time. Drivers 60 and above are eligible for induction immediately.

The remainder of the class includes Charles “Butch” Elms, Pete Silva, Dick Glines, Jamie Aube, Kenny Tremont Sr. and John Buffum.

Elms, a Vermont native, was an accomplished racer and is the longtime owner of Bear Ridge Speedway in Bradford, Vt. Glines is a N.H. native who reigned in full-fendered racing in Northern New England. Aube, a Vermont native, won three consecutive NASCAR Busch North Series titles from 1988-90. Silva is a Waterville, Me. native who reigned in full-fendered racing and had a standout career on the former NASCAR North Series and with the K&N Pro Series East. New York native Tremont reigned as a dirt car driver and car builder. Buffum, a Wallingford native and longtime Vermont resident, is known internationally for his success in rally racing.

The induction class is expected to be formally announced Wednesday at Thompson Speedway. For more information concerning the Hall of Fame induction dinner visit the NEAR website.

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Comments

  1. I really don’t know why these two legends in the sport have not been inducted before now. I am glad they are both finally getting the recognition they deserve.

  2. Humphry,
    Neither was eligible until this year.

  3. Fantstic choices.

  4. Sharpie Fan says:

    No brainer,

  5. Great to see them both being inducted, along with the six others. Mike Stefanie was nominated to the NASCAR hall of fame class of ’18 but not voted in. Hopefully Mike will again be nominated for the class of ’19, and get voted in, he is definitely a hall of famer. Teddy won’t be eligible for another couple of years, but with his accomplishments should also get in.

  6. wmass01013 says:

    SORRY TC a Stafford hall of famer YES, NASCAR hall of famer No way

  7. Sorry wmass. It’s the New England Hall of Fame and not national. In the incredibly rich and diverse history of New England short track racing few have left such an indelible mark across the board with so much success over so many decades.
    That picture of TC is so haunting it’s getting creepy. It’s like he looking right through you and saying I dare you to forget me.

  8. wmass01013 says:

    Doug I know what hall of fame TC was voted in, I was replying to Rob who said he hoped Stefanik AND TC would be voted IN NASCAR’s Hall of Fame in 2019

  9. Sorry wmass I got confused by the mention of Stafford. Thinking you meant his hall of fame accomplishments were limited to the one track. As far as national recognition goes I’m not seeing it at all.

  10. Crazy in NY says:

    TC and MS together in a NE Hall of Fame is a no brainer for sure but Mike, unless there is no God, is destined for the NAS Hof. Should happen in the next 5 years IMHO. With 9 titles to his name another no brainer.

  11. No brainer for New England hall. But I think there is also some merit for the nascar hall as well. Stefaniks seven titles and wins in other classes have obviously given him national consideration. Northeast Mods are represented with both Richie and Jerry Cook . I also think you could argue TCs merits here as well. I don’t know many local drivers whose names were so well know on the entire east coast and by drivers and owners in other national divisions. NASCAR is supposed to recognize the grass roots movement and local tracks that feed its talents and helps culitivate its fan base. I know no local driver who did this better than Ted. At least not in recent times. I have not even seen an accurate estimate of teds wins . Some are documented pretty well at our local tracks. Then southern tour n non tour events over 60 at new Smyrna. I am prejudice but I would think Ted at least merits consideration . The problem with nascar is there hall is ten years old and inducting only 5 persons a year . This does a great disservice to several deserving parties. Trying to recognize so many from eras past and honor deserving current members . There should be a veterans committee or selection to add more nominees from the sports first 60 years when no hall existed. Just my biased opinion. Though I think it will be a while befor Brian France gets in. 😁

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