On Sept. 16, 2017, a Mooney M20C crashed at North Branford, Connecticut, killing the pilot and his passenger, a prominent NASCAR race car driver. It wasn’t until Dec. 17, 2019, that the NTSB adopted a probable cause of the accident. It really took a lot of digging, along with a good deal of patient examination of aircraft components, to figure out some of what likely happened.
The NASCAR driver was Ted Christopher, who won 42 NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour races along with six NASCAR Whelen Southern Modified Tour victories. He was the 2001 winner of the NASCAR Whelen All-American Series national championships. Christopher, 59 years old, was a native of Plainville, Conn. He frequently raced at three NASCAR-sanctioned tracks in Connecticut and at the Riverhead Raceway in Calverton on New York’s Long Island. The accident flight was to take him to Francis S. Gabreski Airport (KFOK) at Westhampton Beach, N.Y., from where he would go to the track for his scheduled races.