SYRACUSE, NY — The late entry of young Mike Christopher Jr. has added even more intrigue to the March 13-14 Indoor Auto Racing Championship Series Fueled By VP events to held inside the Exposition Center on the grounds of the New York State Fairgrounds.
Christopher, 20 years old from Wolcott, CT, is set to suit up to drive a yet-to-be-completed TQ Midget being constructed by Trey Hoddick of Buffalo, NY. Hoddick has fielded winning TQ Midgets for drivers Scott Kreutter, Andy Jankowiak and Christopher’s late uncle in past years.
Ted Christopher won eight Indoor Series features and two championships in his career before being killed in a plane crash in 2017.
While Mike Christopher will be making his first start in the Indoor Series, the drivers he will be competing against will be vying for the TC Cup, named in the honor of his late uncle, which is awarded annually to the TQ Midget Indoor Series champion.
The race for the 2020 Indoor Auto Racing Series BELFOR Concrete Series championship will be decided between point leader Andy Jankowiak, Matt Janisch, defending champion Erick Rudolph and Tim Buckwalter after qualifying and feature events are held both nights in Syracuse.
Mike Christopher, however, knows very little about TQ Midget car racing. He did watch his late uncle win Indoor events in Atlantic City, NJ and Providence, Rhode Island. He also attended the most recent series event in Atlantic City as an interested spectator in the pit area.
“I know from watching Uncle Ted this is a totally different form of racing than I am not used to,” Christopher said. “Way different. I do have some past experience in Legends Cars and Go-Karts besides Asphalt Modifieds but I don’t think any of that will mean anything much. This is a whole new venture for me.”
Mike’s father, a twin to brother Ted, was a successful asphalt Modified racer himself. Mike Jr. followed in the footsteps of both in recent years winning SK Modified events at Ct.’s Stafford Motor Speedway.
Less than ten days before the start of practice on Friday afternoon March 13th in Syracuse, Christopher had not yet see his ride. This past weekend, he headed to Hoddick’s western New York shop to be fitted for a seat.
“Trey had to build the roll cage and position the seat just for me. I’m six foot-two, so he wanted to build the roll cage longer and higher and put the seat back further than in the other cars he has built. I remember when Uncle Ted raced for Trey his cars were always fast, good equipment,” said Mike Jr.
Christopher and Hoddick talked about the possibility of an Indoor TQ effort not long after Ted was killed with a car that was in the planning stages for him to drive.
The two reconnected when the 2019 outdoor season was over and talked out Hoddick’s plans to build a second car, initially as a back-up. At first, Hoddick hoped to have the car done for the late January Atlantic City Indoor race but wasn’t able to finish it in time.
To aid his advance preparation even further, Mike Jr. has conferred with past series winner and champion Ryan Flores, who will not be in the Syracuse field, owing to his NASCAR Cup Team Penske commitments.
“Ryan and I talked at Atlantic City about Indoor TQ racing,” Christopher noted. “He told me some of the things he learned the first year he ran the Series.”
Christopher confirmed with Hoddick that he will be able to run his Stafford SK Modified number, the digital No. 82, on the TQ Midget.
At the end of the 2018 Stafford SK season, Christopher was being touted as a star of the present and future after winning the last three features. This past year, in the same equipment, he was winless.
“My father told me, ‘racing is 90 percent down and 10 percent up,” Christopher related. “Last year the car was fast but it didn’t produce good results. I had motor problems, power steering problems, couldn’t finish races. I had never gone through the kind of struggle I did last year.”
Tickets are available in a range of different prices through links on www.indoorautoracing.com and the venue box office. Tickets can also be purchased by calling the Area Auto Racing News office at 609-888-3618. Tickets will be available each race night starting at 2pm at the Exposition Center Box office.
Race fans can enjoy a double header weekend at the Fairgrounds with the 34th annual Syracuse Motorsports Expo and Trade Show being held at the Center Of Progress Building on the Fairgrounds. This show opens on Saturday at 10 am giving everyone plenty of time to enjoy that show then walk over to the nearby Exposition Center for the races that night. The Trade show reopens on Sunday from 11 to 4 pm.
-Indoor Auto Racing Championship Press Release
-Photo credit: Speed51/Rick Ibsen