The Racing World Reacts To The Passing Of NASCAR Legend Mike Stefanik

Statement from David McGrath, executive vice president and general manager of New Hampshire Motor Speedway, on Mike Stefanik, who died Sunday in a plane crash in Sterling, Conn.:

“Yesterday, the short track community lost one of the greatest modified drivers in history. Mike Stefanik was a true champion on and off the racetrack making a long-lasting mark on short track racing, specifically in the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour. With 10 career victories, Mike is one of New Hampshire Motor Speedway’s top winning drivers. I know that I can speak for everyone here, as well as our entire Speedway Motorsports, Inc. family, when I say that Mike will be truly missed. Our thoughts and prayers are with his family, friends and the entire NASCAR community during this very difficult time.”

Mike Stefanik celebrates after winning the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour Town Fair Tire 100 on July 14, 2012 at New Hampshire Motor Speedway (Photo: Jared Wickerham/Getty Images for NASCAR)

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  1. What a marvelous career. Very symmetrical. The rise, years of success trailing off a bit at the end but not too much since he was still competitive. It was a shame he didn’t stay in the sport in some fashion. On the other hand there’s something elegant in a person so fiercely competent, confident and curious that can be satisfied with what he accomplished then say NEXT!
    Does he belong in the Hall of Fame. Judge for yourself but I can see a yes and a no.
    7 NWMT championships in 29 years for a winning percentage of 24%. Not bad. However he only raced what could be interpreted as a full schedule in 19 or those years making his winning percentage 37%.That number not including a couple of second place finishes and a championship in the K&N Seriies. At a time when the NWMT was very competitive with well funded teams and some big names.
    Even winning one championship having missed one race. How many more championships could he have had were he to have spent all his most productive years in modifieds?
    He did however have a lot of part time years prioritizing other things so you wonder if that hurts him with the decision makers. That and no other modified driver in the modern era that made it in to compare him to.
    I met him once in the 80’s at that race shop over by Hoosier tire in Manchester. I forget it’s name. He bent up some roll cage supports for me. It was a singularly routine encounter before he really hit his stride in local racing. He did however show me the work he was doing on a chassis under construction and clearly took great pride in his work. Especially the welds that were heliarced (tig) as opposed to migged. I remember it because he was an impressive guy even in that simple little encounter.
    Stefanik losing his life in an ultra light. All those years going so fast in packs of cars in controlled chaos. His life cut short. Going slow in air speed terms, all by himself in the sky in an aircraft that is supposed to be safe in so far as it can glide to the ground if the motor fails.
    It’s been a bad two years.

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