Legendary NASCAR driver Mike Stefanik tragically died on Sunday, September 15 at the relatively young age of just 61 years old, shocking the racing world’s millions of devoted fans.
He was killed in a plane crash that occurred in a wooded area near the Riconn Airport in Rhode Island. Stefanik was piloting the Aerolite 103, single-engine, single-seat aircraft.
Following the crash, Stefanik was rushed to the hospital with severe burns and injuries. He was later pronounced dead. NASCAR confirmed the sad news in on their official Twitter account on Sunday.
“Mike Stefanik was one of the most successful drivers in NASCAR history, but even more so, he was a true representative of our sport. His tough, competitive nature and excellence on the race track won him the respect and admiration of fans and competitors alike,” NASCAR Chairman and CEO Jim France said.
“His career stretched more than 30 years, bridging the generations between Jerry Cook and Richie Evans to our current drivers. 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.”
Stefanik won a total of nine NASCAR series championships during his time as a competitive racer. He held the Whelen Modified Tour record with 74 total victories and was also nominated for the NASCAR Hall of Fame six times. The social media tributes for Stefanik started rolling in on Monday, including one from NASCAR racer Jesse Little.
“Man. So sad to hear the news of the passing of Mike Stefanik. I idolized him growing up when my dad was involved with the tour. God speed. My thoughts & prayers are with his family,” he tweeted. Entertainment Hub’s thoughts and prayers are with Stefanik’s friends and family during this very difficult time.
We are saddened to hear the news about nine-time NASCAR Champion and NASCAR Hall of Fame nominee Mike Stefanik’s passing. NASCAR statement: pic.twitter.com/VqRBxBpB18
— NASCAR (@NASCAR) September 16, 2019
Man. So sad to hear the news of the passing of Mike Stefanik. I idolized him growing up when my dad was involved with the tour. God speed. My thoughts & prayers are with his family.
— Jesse Little (@jesselittle97) September 16, 2019