DENTON, N.C. – A historic team with a new challenge ahead has teamed up with a hungry driver looking to prove he belongs on the national stage.
Curt Cornell and the legendary Cornell Racing Stables team have partnered with southeastern sprint car hotshoe Johnny Petrozelle III to compete in select POWRi and USAC National Midget events through the remainder of the season, with a potential eye on regular competition going into 2017.
Petrozelle, the 2013 Carolina RaceSaver 305ci Sprint Car Series champion who has most recently spent time competing in dirt 360ci and asphalt 410ci sprint car competition, will tackle the new challenge of midget racing when he teams with the Cornells for the first time on July 2-3 in POWRi action at Macon (Ill.) Speedway and Angell Park (Wis.) Speedway.
The Tar Heel State native and third-generation racer joins a long list of open wheel racers who have driven for the Cornells: including the legendary Rich Vogler, Hall of Famer Tom Bigelow, and more recently, young guns Jimmy Clark and Austin Prock.
“Words can’t explain what it means to me to be able to have the opportunity to drive for Curt,” Petrozelle said. “Growing up, my dad had albums of midget racing (photos) of him and my grandfathers. He took me to a few USAC shows as a young kid and I’ve always had a passion for it. I was raised hearing about guys like Rich Vogler and Tom Bigelow and they were some of my earliest racing heroes. And now to get to drive the “Cornell Special 8” and have that in common with them is pretty neat.”
“Racing winged sprint cars on the east coast was as close as i thought I would get to achieving that dream, driving for Curt and moving to a national stage. Being able to showcase my talent, passion, and drive on the top circuits is exactly what my career needs. I feel like I’ve been readying myself on and off the track, at home and away, for years for this opportunity. I plan to put my best foot forward and I can’t wait to see where this journey leads.
The Cornell Racing Stables team is one of the longest-tenured organizations in midget racing competition, having fielded cars in USAC, POWRi and the Illini Midget Series among their many ventures over the years.
Their most successful tenure was in the late ‘70s and early ‘80s with Vogler at the wheel, but the team has been a part of midget racing through the sport’s glory days and continues to be one of the most respected teams in the paddock at tracks throughout the Midwestern United States.
Now, the team shifts their focus from the pavement – where they have seen much of their recent success – to the dirt, where Petrozelle is comfortable and poised to expand his learning curve behind Cornell’s guidance.