Breaking News: a NASCAR fan-favorite and champion 9-time touring series winner has tragically died in a plane crash outside of Rhode Island. He was riding in a single-seat Aerolite 103 when officials say something went wrong with his plane.
The racecar driver was identified as Mike Stefanik. He was 61 years old.
The plane took off from the Riconn Airport in Coventry, Rhode Island on Sunday. According to officials, Stefanik’s plane was attempting to turn about to return to the airport when something went wrong and it crashed into the woods in Sterling Connecticut, very near to the airport. Police have not stated a cause to the crash, which is still under investigation.
It is assumed at present that Stefanik was the only passenger in the plane and that he was the one piloting it. Police reports indicated only one person was killed as a result of the crash on Sunday.
Stefanik was an absolutely dominant competitor in NASCAR racing, putting up stellar numbers throughout his career. Among his achievements, he had the coveted title of most wins at the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour. His Whelen wins in 1989, 1991, 1997, 1998, 2001, 2002 and 2006 made him a legend among fans of racing.
Stefanik also won the Busch North series in 1997 and in 1998, making him a very flexible and adaptive competitor. It’s clear he had a passion for high-adrenaline activities, big engines and pushing the boundaries of speed.
“Mike Stefanik was one of the most successful drivers in NASCAR history, but even more so, he was a true representative of our sport,” Jim France, NASCAR CEO, wrote on the NASCAR website.
“His tough, competitive nature and excellence on the race track won him the respect and admiration of fans and competitors alike. His career stretched more than 30 years, bridging the generations between Jerry Cook and Richie Evans to our current drivers,” France wrote.
“He recorded achievements in this sport that are likely untouchable, and his legacy as a champion will endure. We will keep his wife Julie and his family and friends in our prayers.”