TC HAS BIG PLANS COMING TOGETHER FOR 2006 by Mike Twist
Rolex 24, Busch North and SLM Rides All Set, Mod Tour Plans Still a Question Mark
During the 2005 season, Ted Christopher ran 85 races in everything from a NASCAR Modified to a Super Late Model to a NASCAR Nextel Cup Series machine. Unless he gets into a snowmobile or sleigh with a number on the side of it, winter in New England should be the time for TC to take a well deserved rest. Right?
This is something that Christopher has been trying to do for several years.
“The 24 Hour thing is the big deal [for me] right now,” said Christopher. “I’ve been trying to do that deal for five years now. The problem with that is that the drivers are high-priced people who can bring money with them to run the cars. It’s not that they are good drivers or not. I knew that I could run well on road courses. I just kept trying and trying and trying [to get a 24 Hours of Daytona ride]. It’s like anything; if you persevere, things will come through. This year, they finally did.”
Christopher didn’t bring a boatload of cash to the Brumos team. In fact, he didn’t write a check at all. He was chosen for his ability as shown in a test session with the team.
Wrong. December is the perfect time for him to work on lining up his deals for the 2006 season. Christopher already has set plans for a limited schedule in the NASCAR Busch North Series next year and he has a Super Late Model ride lined up for Florida Speedweeks. He is currently working to make sure that his Jim Gallante-owned #13 NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour team will be back next year and has a few other things in the works as well.
But the biggest feather in his hat could be the fact that he will race in the prestigious Rolex 24 Hours of Daytona in late January. Christopher will join the Brumos Racing Porsche team in America’s most prestigious road racing event on January 28th-29th.
“I got a shot to practice and not to brag, but I practiced really well with the car,” said Christopher. “After the first day, they asked me to drive it in the 24 Hours of Daytona. On the second day, I went almost a second and a half faster than the first day. I was really getting acclimated on how to drive those things.
“They were pretty happy to know that I never drove anything like that and I was good at it. I was real consistent and I was really happy with that. I try to do that in everything that I drive.”
Another thing that Christopher tries to do in anything that he drives is to get the most out of it. That's what he did with the prototype car, although it took a little bit of getting used to.
Ted Christopher will have plenty of time behind the wheel in 2006. (51 Photo)
good crew chief and they won a bunch of races with Brad in the car. I was happy enough to get to victory lane with those guys.”
And bigger things could be in the works for their second year together.
“We have some things coming up in the future with those guys,” said Christopher. “We’re going to run New Hampshire, Stafford and those places, but we want to run some road courses. It looks like there might be some things on the schedule with that which might interest our team next year. We might do some things out towards the West Coast. The Busch North deal is a set deal. We just don’t know what races because there isn’t a schedule out yet. They’re ready to go racing too.”
And then there is Speedweeks in February. Christopher will be there as well as the Super Late Models and Modifieds take to New Smyrna Speedway for ten days of nightly racing.
Between putting the Daytona deal together, Christopher has been busy trying to plan for 2006 with the #13 Mystique Motorsports team. The Jim Gallante-owned operation nearly won the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour championship in 2005, but its status for next year is a question mark. It could come back nearly intact or it could be dissolved.
“I don’t know yet about the Tour deal,” said Christopher when asked about the #13 team. “Hopefully, we’ll have the same team next year. That’s still up in the air. I have a meeting coming up with Jim and hopefully with will finalize that. I really need to get that finalized.”
The #13 team, minus longtime crew chief Barry Kuhnel, is hard at work though.
“The guys are still working there," said Christopher.
Our crew chief is gone, Barry won’t be back, but our other two guys are working full-time. We just need to decide on a new crew chief and we’ve got two or three guys who want to come with us. We’ll see if the boss says yes.”
On a different note, Christopher’s partial schedule deal in a NASCAR Busch North Series machine for the #35 team of NDS Motorsports is all ready to go. TC joined that operation after Brad Leighton left before the 2005 season. The success was instant. Christopher won at New Hampshire and finished five of his six starts for the team in the top 10.
“That team came along really well,” said Christopher. “I knew in the back of my mind that we would be really good with that car because Steve [Hibbard] is a really
Ted Christopher hopes to see the checkered flag in the Rolex 24 at Daytona in January. (Daytona International Speedway Photo)
TC is set for 2006 in the #35 Busch North car (Top - Howie Hodge Photo) and the #29 Cushman Engineering Ford for Florida Speedweeks (Center - 51 Photo), but he's still waiting to see about his Modified Tour ride - the Mystique #13. (Bottom - Howie Hodge Photo)
“People always tell me that I drive in too deep with all of the stuff that I drive,” said Christopher. “I couldn’t drive that thing in deep and that was the fun part. I was actually telling myself to drive it in deeper.
“It’s a lot different than any car that I’ve driven before. The sequential gearbox was pretty wild. You just put your foot to the floor and pull back the shifter. It’s not an H-pattern, it’s got six speed and those six speeds are backwards and it’s forward to downshift it. It’s a lot different to drive. There’s adjustable traction control on the steering wheel and you drive from the right side of the car. It’s a lot different, but for me I was lucky enough to be good at it right away. It is just awesome and fun to drive. I can’t tell you how excited I am.”
“I’m going to drive for Jay Cushman at New Smyrna in the Super Late Model again,” said Christopher. “Actually, we were supposed to go to Lakeland for Speedfest. He was all set to go, but it’s the same weekend [as the 24 hours of Daytona], but he wasn’t too upset about that. He’s really happy for me to get this chance. He got his flights pretty cheap, so he’ll send his guys down early [for Speedweeks] and have them come over to Daytona to watch me in the 24. They’ll have a good time there.”
“I’m not quite sure who I’ll be driving for in the Modified at New Smyrna yet. I’ll be in someone’s car though. That will be all set.”
Christopher won at Speedweeks 2005 in a Modified and a Super Late Model. (51 Photo)
But Modifieds, Super Late Models, Busch North cars and prototypes aren’t all that Christopher wants to race in 2006. He is also working on some other deals.
“I’ve got some things lined up for Thompson with an SK [Sunoco Modified],” said Christopher. “If Jim comes back, I’ll definitely race for him at Stafford [in the SK Modified class on Friday nights] and on the Tour. But if not, we’ll find another 60 races somewhere.”
So even though he’s not racing in the dead of winter, December is far from a quiet month for Ted Christopher.