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Ted Christopher, who competed in every level of NASCAR and racked up nearly 50 wins in the Modified Series, was killed in a plane crash in Connecticut on Saturday, the series announced. Christopher was 59.

NBC Sports reports the crash was confirmed by the FAA who said that a Mooney M20C carrying two passengers crashed around 2pm in the woods around Guilford, Connecticut.

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Christopher was en route to a race Saturday night at New York’s Riverhead Raceway when the plane he was in crashed. The cause of the accident is still being investigated.

NASCAR’s CEO Brian France released a statement saying:

“We are all saddened to learn of the tragic plane crash this afternoon that claimed the lives of NASCAR driver Ted Christopher and the aircraft’s pilot.

“As a championship driver on the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour and New England short tracks, Christopher was a throwback to NASCAR’s roots. 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. NASCAR has his family and friends in its thoughts and prayers during this difficult time.”

Christopher was a fan favorite in NASCAR’s Whelen Modified Series and won several track championships across many levels of racing. ESPN spoke to a source who called him “the gold standard when it came to short-track racing.”

At Riverhead Raceway, Fox News reports, officials paid tribute to Christopher by driving his car in a ceremonial lap around the track and then asking for a moment of silence from fans.