Diary Of Racer Kid: A Tribute To A Legend

Ryan Fearn is an 18-year old driver in the Limited Late Model division at Stafford Motor Speedway. He is part of the racing Fearn family at Stafford, which also includes his uncle, Late Model driver Tom Fearn, and his sister, Limited Late Model driver Alexandra Fearn. His father Stu Fearn owns the Fearn Motorsports team. Ryan will bring his thoughts, views and behind the scenes observations of living the short track racing life to RaceDayCT in an occasional column titled Diary of Racer Kid.

It is with a heavy heart that I write this column, considering recent events just before publication. It’s all that’s on my mind at the moment, and to be straight forward with it, I feel compelled to write about it.

As many of us know, SK Modified legend Ted Christopher, often referred to as simply TC or The King, has passed suddenly in a plane crash in Guilford, Connecticut on his way to Riverhead. The story is still developing as of September 16, 2017. The following is something I felt like sharing, as Ted motivated me to perhaps be as great as him someday (stress on the word perhaps).

This one’s for a national icon in the racing world that was taken from us too soon.

I first recall of learning who he was from the turn 4 grandstands, attending the weekly show at Stafford at the ripe old age of 5 accompanied by my father and sister. The paved walk way in front of those stands was perfect for drawing out my own version of Stafford in chalk for my die cast modifieds and cup cars, which I still have to this day. Between shuffling along each Hot Wheels and Matchbox car, the thunderous roar of thousands of horsepower would jetstream toward the stripe, and I’d have my eyes on a few big names in particular. Among them at the time was a black car, striped with blue and white and surrounded with chrome bumpers. Boldly claiming the spot under the window net was a pure white 13, akin to the famous Dale Sr. 3 in Microgramma font.

The man behind the wheel was Ted Christopher.

Darting his way to the front, battling it out with other drivers of the time like Willie Hardie Jr. in the 7, Frank Ruocco in the 91, and Kenny Horton in the 19, the glisten of that chrome horn under the lights was impossible to miss. Everyone had their eyes on him the entire race. He had his fans, and he had his haters, and it was all because he was a winner. The haters were jealous of his success, and the fans simply loved watching Teddy finesse his way through the pack. However, simply saying TC was a winner is an understatement. He was the man to beat for his entire career, no matter what vehicle he was in control of.

Ted Christopher was a force to be reckoned with in the northeast open wheel circuit for his entire career. He was the one to watch with his tried and tested “Three Tap” driving style. Many racers look up to him and his technique, aspiring to be as talented as him.

A well decorated racer, Christopher had won an astonishing 109 times in the SK Modified at Stafford Motor Speedway from 1986 to 2017, with a total of 131 wins in every car he has raced there. To put how successful he was in perspective, Bo Gunning sits in second on the all-time SK wins list with 47. TC Is also credited with 99 feature wins at Thompson International Speedway, the highest of all time at the first “super speedway” in America. In addition to his 9 championships at Stafford, Ted was also able to claim championships at Waterford Speedbowl, where he won 48 times, and Thompson. Thus, he was the first man to have championships at all three of the main Connecticut short tracks. The King also earned a championship in the Whelen Modified Tour in 2008, with Matt Hirschman dropping many laps down late in the final race at Thompson with electrical problems.

Teddy has driven everything from Modifieds to Pro Stocks, even indoor Midget cars. TC also ran quite a few races combined across all three premier NASCAR series, even having his own Ted Christopher Racing team run the Cup race at Watkins Glen in 1999.

With the brief history of Ted Christopher’s racing career laid out, it’s easy to tell a legend was born as he rose to fame, and that legend is going to live on for many years, easily even decades. Perhaps one could say TC is to modifieds as Dale Earnhardt Sr. is to the (now named) Monster Energy Cup. But, regardless of what you think of the man, Ted Christopher will always be remembered as The King of the SK Modified, and the stats back that up.

I’ll never forget when I first saw that black and blue 13 on the turn 2 Diamond Vision. May The King rest in peace knowing he was the greatest modified racer of all time.

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