May 11, 2010

ARCHIVES                                         

By Brian Danko

Ted Christopher has certainly taken a lot out of auto racing, now the Plainville, CT is giving something back and in a big way.

Christopher, who competes weekly at Stafford Motor Speedway beside the modified tour and other racing venues, will help raise money to cure Breast cancer.

“Last year at a Christmas party, my wife, Quinn, was telling me about a co-worker who had breast cancer and had to have one removed and then again had to have the second removed and I thought that maybe I can do something to help find a cure by raising money for it.” Teddy said at his shop just days after winning his sixth Spring Sizzler.

Christopher is going to donate one dollar for every lap he runs in the feature events at the Stafford Speedway and last weekend, he put in $340.00 on the first weekend. He is also going to add $100.00 for every feature win at Stafford.

The $340.00 was for running 200 laps in the modified tour race, an extra $100 for winning and then $40.00 for running the 40 lap SK modified feature.

“I don’t care what feature it is that I run at Stafford, whether it’s the SK modifieds, the late models or the midgets, I’ll give one dollar for every lap and $100.00 for every win.”

When one of the wives of a sponsor heard about Christopher’s quest to raise money, she quickly got involved and to say she isn’t the biggest T.C. fan is an understatement.

“Cliff Nelson (a longtime sponsor at tracks and on modifieds), his wife said that she would match my $100.00 for each win and she really doesn’t like me, but she likes the cause.”

All of the monies will be coordinated through the UCONN Health center and all of the monies will be presented in October at the Stafford Fall Final. October is also Breast Cancer Awareness month.

“My wife has had some serious medical issues and I’ve seen what it does to her and I know what someone who has a serious issue has to deal with so if I can do something small to help maybe find a cure that would be very gratifying.”

Christopher has met with Stafford track president Mark Arute and notes that Stafford is going to get involved but he doesn’t know at what level and T.C. also is working on something else so big, he can’t he talk about it yet.

“Let’s just say if I was able to work it out, it would be a real big deal.”

Teddy said that at the modified tour race at Stafford on May 28th, he is going to be signing pink checkered flags to hand out to the fans.

While Teddy acknowledges he isn’t always a fan favorite but he knows that everyone wants to defeat cancer and he’s hoping that they join his quest. He is going to see if Stafford might be able to put something on their website where fans can go to make a donation.

“I love racing at Stafford and it’s just natural that if I was to do something that it would be at Stafford and I am looking forward to giving away a lot of my money. At the Fall Final, my car will have pink numbers and ribbons on it and I am looking forward to it.”

STEFANIK SIZZLES EARLY

Mike Stefanik is used to winning and winning championships but for the nine time NASCAR champion, the past couple of years have been a struggle but after the first two races of the season, Stefanik is back to his usual consistent finishes that he hopes will result in his record breaking 8th Whelen modified tour title and his 10th NASCAR championship overall.

When I asked what was different this year, Stefanik said, “well we have a new truck and trailer and while it doesn’t help us run better, it looks good.”

All joking aside, Stefanik said it was a matter of getting back to basics.

“Last year at the end of the season and early this year Sly Szaban, crew chief and I talked about putting in a basic set up in the car and going from there. We do have some new motors but we have just a basic set up and it seems to be working so far.”

That last couple of years certainly hasn’t been Stefanik like, with just a few wins and finishing out of the top five in points isn’t going to garner much attention but it has gotten Stefanik’s.

“It’s been embarrassing.” Mike said, not mincing words. “I’ve been very disappointed with the results the last few years and it was time to change.”

Stefanik started the season with a fourth place finish at Thompson and then a third at Stafford but was in contention for the wins by being up front.

While auto racing and baseball don’t have much in common, Stefanik used some terminology that applies to both.

“In the past few years, we just weren’t getting on base. Now a top five is like a double and a win would be like hitting a home run but you have to get on base to score and by the early top fives, we have been doing that.”

With only 14 races on the modified tour this year, running strong weekly is going to be a must, if you want to contend for the title.

“I figure that you can only get one mulligan (a golf phrase for a do over) but if you have more than that it’s going to be an uphill battle for the championship. I look at the 4 car (Bobby Santos and Bob Garbarino) as the odds on favorite to win it but you have to figure in Teddy (Christopher) and a few others as whom you are going to have to beat to win it.”

Steffy said that this year not only has his team stepped up with a big effort but so hasn’t just about everyone else on the tour.

“Look at the young Brunnhoelzl kid with the 46 team and Eric Beers with the Blewetts, they have come up big. They are out to prove that the changes they made were good, everyone on the tour has done a good job and the competition is as strong as ever.”

When asked about being one of the old guys, Stefanik just laughed and said he isn’t out there to just run around and fill out the field.

“I’ve never be one of those guys and I don’t plan on it now. I still love to race and I will keep racing as long as I enjoy it. I’ll be running the TQ midget race in Albany Saratoga and plan on running a midget at Seekonk and besides running the modified tour; I’ll run some Modified series races so I have a busy summer planned.”

But his biggest plans are for an all out assault on the Whelen modified tour championship.

“This tour has the perfect blend of veterans and young blood to make for a nice make up this year. Look at Ted Christopher, he can drive the wheels off anything and I think when he won the modified title, he became a much better racer. He now is making more precise moves rather than just throwing it in there and I look at a young driver like Bobby Santos. The kid can drive and has already proven it this year so I think if you’re a fan you can pull for one of the old veterans or one of the kids.”

Just talking to Stefanik, the serious tone was back and he feels that after a few lost seasons that he is ready to be in the mix and with nine diamond rings to his name, who is going to doubt him?