Keith Rocco dropped us into the middle of the 2010 Coors Light SK Modified 100 at Stafford Motor Speedway. He dropped us into the intense noise and speed to the heartbeat of a rivalry and glorious friendship.
“It seemed like every week at Stafford, every week at Waterford, Ted Christopher and I were racing each other for the win at the end of the night,” Rocco said. “The respect we had for each other, it just grew. If I wasn’t going to win, I wanted to see him win. I know it was the other way around.
“But, man, we wanted to beat each other so bad.”
In the 2009 Coors Light race, they had swapped the lead seven times over the final 35 laps. They were just warming up. In 2010, they swapped the lead 15 times before Rocco finally won.
“I’d win a race,” Rocco said. “Ted would just jump in when they took the picture. We put on some great shows at Stafford.”
The two had raced Sept. 15 at Stafford, and here was Rocco the following day being told Christopher didn’t make the drivers’ meeting at Riverhead Raceway on Long Island.
“Nobody could find him,” Rocco said. “That’s not like Ted.”
Word arrived of a plane crash near the North Branford-Guilford line.
“Ted always flew on the small plane from Plainville to Riverhead; it was like 20 minutes,” Rocco said. “Automatically, bad things start going through your head. I kept hoping it’s not true.”
It was true. Christopher, 59, and Charles Dundas, the 81-year-old pilot of the Mooney M20C, were dead.
“It’s devastating,” Rocco, 32, said.
When Keith and his twin Jeff were kids, their dad, Ronnie, raced Modifieds…
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