I’m far from the first to say that last Saturday felt like a punch in the gut.
But I still feel that it can’t hurt to say what I’m sure a whole bunch of people are thinking.
It’s been almost a week since we lost perhaps the greatest wheelman New England has ever seen. It didn’t hit me until I got to New Hampshire for the Whelen Modified Tour race weekend today.
I walked past the number 82 hauler in the infield today. I was hoping, praying, that TC would walk out of the hauler with a big grin on his face, another one of the zingers that only Teddy Christopher could fire at the ready.
The tribute to TC on the back of that car, however, was sobering. It was confirmation, to me, that he truly was gone, that the news I and everyone else in the community was shocked and saddened by was all too true.
42 Whelen Modified Tour wins. 2008 Whelen Modified Tour champion. 2001 Whelen All-American Series champion. 131 feature wins at Stafford and 99 at Thompson. 10 K&N Pro Series East wins.
The numbers go on and on. Those don’t matter. Teddy was more than just big win totals.
Teddy Christopher, to borrow from Dr. Seuss’ Horton Hears a Who, said what he meant–and meant what he said. He was perhaps the only driver in the garage who could back up what he said. After all, he was the guy holding the trophy at the end of the day on countless occasions.
I’ll always remember the first time I saw Ted Christopher in person. It just so happened to be the first short track event I ever attended.
Last October at the Waterford Speedbowl, Teddy and Ryan Preece were slugging it out in a $5,000-to-win SK Modified race. On a late-race restart, Preece chose the outside line. Through the first two corners, Teddy absolutely used Ryan up and vaulted himself to the lead.
That pass would turn out to be the winning maneuver, as the race would soon end early due to a red flag. In his post-race interview, Teddy attributed his late race pass to “Eight wheels are better than four.” The crowd booed him to no end. TC just grinned. Of course, Preece got the final say when Teddy was DQ’ed the next morning.
I was also at Thompson Speedway on Sunday, September 10th of this year. There, I watched Teddy thunder to the lead to take the win. It was his eye-popping 99th victory at the historic 5/8-mile oval. What I, and no one else could’ve known at the time, was that we had just seen Teddy Christopher take the checkers for the final time. But something else stuck in my mind.
You could hear loud cheers from the crowd when Teddy climbed out of the car. The same man I watched the crowd boo mercilessly at the first race I saw was given loud applause at the last race I saw him compete in.
Perhaps that is what best sums up the career of Ted Christopher.
He was a racer’s racer. He put on a show each and every time he took to the track.
He was one of those special racing icons who was often booed as loudly as he was cheered, and vice versa.
Whether you loved him or you hated him, one thing is for certain.
You were never bored when ol’ TC was out on the track.
Read more Short Track Scene:
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- Jake Crum and Stacy Puryear inherit front row at Martinsville
- Modifed Tour not in Dale Jr.’s future plans