Modified star Ted Christopher, 59, killed in plane crash in Connecticut

Ted Christopher, who won 48 NASCAR Modified Series races and whose racing success included hundreds of feature wins in the Northeast, died in a plane crash Saturday in Connecticut. He was 59.

NASCAR confirmed that Christopher was killed in a crash that occurred in North Branford, where, according to NBC Connecticut, a Mooney M20C crashed into a field at 1:53 p.m. Christopher and the pilot were killed.

"As a championship driver on the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour and New England short tracks, Christopher was a throwback to NASCAR's roots," said NASCAR chairman and CEO Brian France. "He was a tough racer's racer, and his hard driving style and candid personality endeared him to short track fans throughout the country. He will be missed throughout the racing community, in the garage and, especially, in the hearts of his many fans."

Said David McGrath, general manager of New Hampshire Motor Speedway: "The short-track community is one of the tightest-knit groups in motorsports, and today it lost one of its most passionate, talented and well-respected members. Ted Christopher was the gold standard when it came to short-track racing."

Christopher also had success in stock cars, as he won 10 times in NASCAR regional stock-car Pro Series East races. In 2001, he won NASCAR's national award for the top driver among all of its weekly sanctioned tracks.

He made six starts in the NASCAR Cup Series, and he earned respect throughout the NASCAR community.