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Vintage Racing Mourns the Loss of MG and Sports Car Enthusiast, Denver B. Cornett, Jr.
Denver Cornett

“We have lost a great friend and MG and sports car enthusiat, as well as a fine gentleman. We will miss Denver, but we will also cherish the many memories he left with us”.....Greg Prehodka (MGVR)

“I can still hear Denver telling me, “you have to talk to as many old–time drivers while they are still with us. And get the stories from the horse’s mouth.”

Like clockwork, I would always run into Denver every year at the Watkins Glen Grand Prix downtown festival. Here we would exchange hellos as if it was only a week since our last encounter, and I would enjoy his narrative insight into the great moments from the early days of the Glen. Of course, now in retrospect, I do wish we had spoken more in depth. But I do, and will always, treasure those brief visits.

Luckily though, I did have the honor of chatting with Denver on several other occasions while putting together my short “Pick of the Liter” article for Vintage Motorosport Magazine published in 2002 (see below). We talked about his early days of racing, his family, and even his love of wildlife. As we get older, years pass as if they were only a week long, and I always thought Lu and I would take Denver up on his generous invite to visit him at his Kentucky home one day. I now wish I heeded his words not to procrastinate on the offer.

Motor racing may have lost another bridge to its past, but for me and countless others who knew Denver, racing’s past and legacy will never be forgotten because of friends like him. Our deepest sympathy go out to his wife Sheridan, his two sons, Christopher and Denver, III, a daughter–in–law, Jane, and two grandchildren, Savannah and Denver (IV). ......Walter Pietrowicz

Denver Cornett

MEMORIES ARE AS CLOSE AS YOUR GARAGE

Most of us will never forget our first love. And I don’t mean “our first kiss” type of love either, but that special affection for an inanimate piece of rolling steel (or fiberglass) that was the recipient of plenty TLC at a time when many of us were just starting our journey into adolescence and a loyal friend that enjoyed late night cruises as much as we did and never questioned our demand for a little 6000rpm exercise.

For most though, evidence of our first love disappeared with “For Sale by Owner” signs. Denver Cornett is one of those rare individuals who has remained a faithful friend for over five decades and still possesses the MG TC he bought in ’47, “A longer relationship than with his family”, adds Cornett.

Cornett recounts when his friend’s shoes were destroyed by the TC’s batteries’ acid, or when double dating with friends who had to always be transported across the back of the minute TC, and so embarrassed perhaps, they demand to be dropped off blocks before their destination. Of course, there’s the story when a 22–year old Cornett flipped the #7 TC at the Glen’s very first street race, quickly learning that it’s recommended to flip a car on even number of turns (and claiming to be the first race driver since the end of the Second World War to roll a racecar, too). Unfortunately, landing upside down and basically holding the car up with his neck (and years of stock car competition) has taken its toll and is the source of much pain today, forcing Cornett to make this racing season his last.

Just shy of his 75th birthday, Cornett felt his friend additionally earned a well–deserved rest after 12,000 (mostly racing) miles. Physically, the car looks as it did when raced decades ago and employs largely 100% of the original parts which never been touched or modified. “I just love this car”, notes Cornett giving his TC another affectionate glance. And if you think all the memories will be locked up behind garage doors, think again. Cornett will no doubt be tooling around his Kentucky home’s back roads and is already planning next year’s Glen trip. This time though, he’ll be leading his fellow MG friends as the Collier Cup pace car.....Walter Pietrowicz

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