Unbuckled: Getting to Know Colin Cornell


Hometown: East Burke, VT

Division: Lenny’s Shoe & Apparel Flying Tigers

Car: Dana Young Construction #54 Chevy Monte Carlo

2018 Season: Finished 15th in Flying Tiger points; 1 podium and four top-10s


What are your favorite hobbies outside of racing?

I like working in the shop working on cars. I also enjoy snowmobiling, 4-wheeling, and those sorts of things. Basically, everything to do with power sports.

What do you do for work/school?

Right now I’m working in plumbing – my dad Paul owns a family plumbing business. I do that every day in the morning, and then I go to school at Lyndon Institute for all my regular classes. Pretty much whenever I don’t have school, I work doing various plumbing stuff. I’m not 100 percent sure how long my dad has owned the business, but I know he’s been in it for a while.

I’m already starting to wonder when you sleep with everything you have going on.

(Laughs) Sometimes it is a challenge. It’s good to be busy, though.

You’re also a firefighter as well. Can you tell us some more about that?

Four or five months ago, I became a volunteer firefighter at my hometown station in East Burke. It’s one of those things where I feel like I’m helping and having an impact on the community and making an impact on people’s lives. That’s what I like to do most – it’s great for people to realize that “wow, people are here that actually care about us.”

What are your racing plans for 2019? Do you have any goals?

We’re coming back to Thunder Road. Last year was my first year there, and I really liked it. It was a lot of fun, and there’s a lot of great people. Cris (Michaud) has done an amazing job with what that track has become, and it’s just an overall fun place to race. So we’re going to go back there, and our goal is to be more successful and get some top-10s, top-5s, and maybe even some top-3s or a win. We learned a lot last year, and we’re hoping for a lot better season. I’ll have some more laps under my belt, so we’re coming back and plan to have some fun there. I can’t thank enough my dad, my crew, and everyone else that helps out and just makes all of this possible. I have to thank the Thunder Road staff, too, for all they do so we can race every summer.

What was the highlight of the 2018 season for you?

Definitely how much we learned – me as a driver and the crew. It was awesome how much knowledge we got out of what went on last year.

You ran Tigers for a couple of years at White Mountain Motorsports Park before coming to Thunder Road. What made you and the team decide to come to Thunder Road and race?

White Mountain is a great place, but I’ve always enjoyed going over to Thunder Road, even as a little kid. I went over there with my parents on Thursday nights and it was just a fun time. I enjoyed being able to go over there and have fun. Looking back on it, I always wanted to race at Thunder Road. So I was like “Dad, I want to give it a try and see what goes on.”

How did you get started in racing?

I started out at White Mountain when I was eleven and a half in the Kids Truck division. That was basically the start of my career. I got it into my blood, and I just can’t get it out, it seems.

Can you tell me about your family?

I’ve got my grandfather on my team, and he’s a good part of what goes on. Everyone in my family is so supportive of me racing and likes it. My mom, my sister – sometimes I scare the crap out of them, but they love going and watching me, and it’s amazing to see the support they provide. It’s a lot of fun knowing that they’re there for me. And I’m just so grateful to my dad for everything and for the opportunities he’s given me to race. I wouldn’t be able to do any of this without his support.

What do you consider to be your biggest accomplishment?

I would say my biggest accomplishment is being able to go and learn from my mistakes. Even just on the race track, doing this one thing wrong, learning from it, and making myself that much better as a driver. It’s the same thing at work, too – just being able to learn from stuff, learn new things, and go out there and try new things and learn from that. I feel pretty accomplished by doing that, because it’s pretty cool to be able to go out and do that stuff, learn from it, and get that much better. At the track, I’m always asking other drivers, “What do you do here? What do you do there?”, and just trying to learn.

Do you have anybody that you consider a role model or that you look up to?

I look up to a lot of different race car drivers. I also look up to my dad, obviously – I want to be like him when I grow up. He used to race a long time ago at Groveton. So it’s really him and other race car drivers – looking up to them and seeing what they’re doing. I want to be as successful as them. It’s kind of cool. I just go look at them and say, “Wow, I’d like to be like him some day.” It’s kind of hard to name them all off the top of my head, but Stacy Cahoon at White Mountain is someone who I want to be like. He’s very successful and an all-around good guy.

What’s the most memorable trip you ever went on?

We go to Wells, Maine every year as a family, and it’s a lot of fun. It’s good family bonding time when we get together. You realize what family actually is and just being able to be with them. It’s always memorable going to Maine and being with them.

If you could have one superpower, what would it be and why?

That’s a hard question. I don’t even know if this is considered a superpower, but it would be being able to make a huge impact on someone’s life. Being inspirational for people, if they look at me and say, “Wow, that would be amazing to be like him.” I’d love for people to be able to look at me or talk to me and say, “He really helped me in life.”

What’s your biggest pet peeve?

Tidiness, basically – making sure things are in order and in line. I don’t like messy stuff.

What are the top three items on your bucket list?

Most of them revolve around racing. My top one is to get a championship at Thunder Road. I would like to go and be able to race at Daytona at some point – it would be huge to do that. I’d also like to go meet some of the Cup guys and just talk to them and learn how they started racing and stuff like that.

Finish this sentence: on a Friday night, you’ll typically find me…

During race season, I’m in the shop from Thursday night trying to repair stuff and get things back together. Normally during the offseason, I’m hanging out with friends and family, maybe going out to dinner or something like that.

Who is your biggest fan at the track?

My mom and my sister. They scream up at the top of the hill – they scream at me even though I can’t hear them. They’re always there cheering for me and supporting me.

Who or what has had the biggest influence on your racing career?

One person that I’ve looked up to a lot, like I said earlier, is Stacy Cahoon. He and Tyler (his son) both have helped me as a driver – especially at White Mountain. In the Tiger division, there are many people that I’ve looked up to. I’ve talked to Jason (Woodard), I’ve talked to Dwayne (Lanphear), Brandon (Lanphear), and pretty much all the Tiger drivers that are really competitive, and I ask them questions about things. But my biggest influence in the Tigers is probably Joel Hodgdon. I would like to be just as successful as he was in the division.

If you could give one piece of advice or a life lesson to others your age, what would it be?

Go out and try new things. Don’t be scared to try new things and learn from them. And learn from your mistakes.

Where do you hope to see yourself in five years?

I would like to be a lot more successful in racing and feel like I’m successful at it. I’d also like to be able to have a good job, work for a living, and just be able to live life to its fullest.

What would you do with your life if you never had to worry about money again?

Oh, man. I’d probably have a lot of race cars. I would definitely also help all the people that I could who are struggling for money. And I would try to help my community as much as possible.