MGs Rule at Mid Ohio, October 12-14, 2007
By Greg Prehodka, MG Vintage Racers; photography by Daniel Mainzer and John Ruth
It was almost a perfect weekend! The MG Vintage Racers had their annual “Focus Event” with VSCDA at Mid-Ohio in October, where all MGs were encouraged to come out and race. They came from Massachusetts to California and from Texas to Ontario! Three days of good weather blessed the event, as 63 MGs from a 1932 J Type to MGBs showed up to have a go of it. MGVR’s “Focus Events” are sort of an ongoing annual reunion for many MG racers. Two “All MG” races were included—one for “Fast MGs” and one for “Faster MGs,” for double the track time. Some racers actually wore out sets of tires with many logging over 200 miles of track action over the weekend! And for the featured event of the weekend, the all MG “Denver Cornett Memorial Tag Team Relay Race” was specially staged. It was a blast for everyone involved—racers, crews, tag team runners, and spectators! Teams of three MGs each—of about equal total team lap times—were made up by the handicapper. Teams were mixes of various model MGs. The first MG of each team would do three laps and then pit and tag off the second MG on its team by using the team’s tag runner to pass a lanyard onto the next team car driver. Repeat second team car. The team’s third car took the checkered flag. There were ten teams, as the lead changed several times, with everyone cheering on their team’s cars and runners! On the third leg, the MGA of Lou Marchant got off her mark in the fourth position. Pushing the “pedal to the metal,” she raced her A as hard as she could and moved up three positions, passing the last car on the last part of the last lap, to take the checkered flag with a margin of victory of less than three seconds! Wow! And the crowds roared! What an exciting race and finish! The winning team included Lou (TX.), Ed Cronin (TD, PA.), and Butch O’Connor (MGB, NJ.). In celebration, on the winner’s podium they sprayed Champagne all over the cheering crowd!
Lou later reflected: “As I sat on the grid with my MGA running, all I could hear was my heartbeat pounding in my ears when the lanyard was dropped in my lap. I thought to myself one last time not to screw up, and drive the fast line. I managed to pass a couple of cars. I forgot to count how many cars were launched in front of me but I knew that it was all over when they dropped the checkered flag! The first clue I had that our team won the race was as I came into the pits and everyone was clapping, cheering and giving me the thumbs up! Manley Ford (TD racer) was down on his knees bowing to me with his hands over his head, and that really cracked me up! When Butch, Ed and Keith told me that our team won I was absolutely thrilled! Then on to the podium where we were awarded the champagne and silver cups!”
To compliment the weekend’s racing, MGVR had its party Friday evening, and VSCDA had their party Saturday evening. MGVR presented two of their own significant awards. First was their “Big Copper Bucket—Spirit Award” presented to a MG racer there, voted by their peers, as best capturing the spirit of MG Vintage Racing. It went to MGTC racer Frank Mount from Ontario, Canada, who first raced a MGTC 49 years ago! And then the “Bill Parish Memorial Award,” to a person just out to have fun in vintage racing. Linda Yates of Texas received the honor. Although Linda does not race, she has supported many races from the organizing end, as well as doing flagging and communications for years (her husband Reed races MGs). And special recognition was given to Denver Cornett who passed away last year. He raced his MGTC in the first race at Watkins Glen in 1948, and in the early years, plus joining vintage racing with the same TC in his later years. His son Denny and Denver’s wife Sherri joined us at the dinner, and for the weekend, to share in Denver’s memories as we honored Denver.
Now, setting the stage for next year, MGVR for the first time will stage two “Focus Events”—one East coast and one West coast. The West coast event will be at Laguna Seca in March, and the East coast event will be held at the new “Thunderbolt Raceway” in southern New Jersey which is under construction now. For more information visit www.mgvr.org.