Record-Setting NASCAR Champion Mike Stefanik Dies in Plane Crash


Nine-time NASCAR touring series champion Mike Stefanik died in a plane crash on Sunday in Connecticut.

NASCAR confirmed the news of the 61-year-old NASCAR Hall of Fame nominee’s death in a statement on Sunday night.

“Mike Stefanik was one of the most successful drivers in NASCAR history, but even more so, he was a true representative of our sport,” said NASCAR chairman and CEO Jim France.

“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 added.

“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.”

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The Hartford Courant reported Stefanik was piloting a single-engine, single seat plane, when he crashed in a wooded area in Sterling, Connecticut, near the Rhode Island border.

The retired NASCAR star was returning to the RICONN Airport in an Aerolite 103 ultralight glider-type plane at about 2 p.m. Sunday afternoon when the crash occurred.

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“Stefanik was taken to the hospital with severe injuries and burns and was later pronounced dead, according to state police,” NBC Connecticut affiliate WVIT reported.

According to USA Today, Stefanik has been a NASCAR Hall of Fame nominee since 2015.

The New England native made his first start in the Whelen Modified tour in 1985.

“In 453 career starts on the tour, Stefanik earned 74 wins and 301 top-10 finishes, and was crowned the series champion for the first time in 1989. His other titles came in ’91, ’97, ’98, ’01, ’02, and his last in ’06,” according to USA Today.

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In 1997 and ’98, the racer made NASCAR history when he won duel titles, taking both the Modified and K&N Pro Series East divisions.

Over the course of his career, Stefanik was named most popular driver on seven occasions.

He ran one full season in the Truck Series in 1999, during which he was named Rookie of the Year.

Stefanik is survived by his wife Julie, whom he married in 1984, and the couple’s two daughters.

Fellow NASCAR driver Dale Earnhardt, Jr., who last month survived his own scrape with death in an airplane crash, tweeted on Sunday, “Breaks my heart.”

Earnhardt added, “I hope his family and friends can find some peace and comfort somehow.”

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Randy DeSoto has written more than 3,000 articles for The Western Journal since he joined the company in 2015. He is a graduate of West Point and Regent University School of Law. He is the author of the book "We Hold These Truths" and screenwriter of the political documentary "I Want Your Money."
Randy DeSoto is the senior staff writer for The Western Journal. He wrote and was the assistant producer of the documentary film "I Want Your Money" about the perils of Big Government, comparing the presidencies of Ronald Reagan and Barack Obama. Randy is the author of the book "We Hold These Truths," which addresses how leaders have appealed to beliefs found in the Declaration of Independence at defining moments in our nation's history. He has been published in several political sites and newspapers.

Randy graduated from the United States Military Academy at West Point with a BS in political science and Regent University School of Law with a juris doctorate.
Harrisburg, Pennsylvania
Graduated dean's list from West Point
United States Military Academy at West Point, Regent University School of Law
Books Written
We Hold These Truths
Professional Memberships
Virginia and Pennsylvania state bars
Phoenix, Arizona
Languages Spoken
Topics of Expertise
Politics, Entertainment, Faith