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Racing Dad John Cornell Jr. Dies Of Heart Attack While Watching Son Race

NESHANIC STATION, NJ — Racing dad John J. “Big John” Cornell Jr., 59, died unexpectedly on Friday, June 12, 2015. John was at N.J.’s Bridgeport Speedway, with race-driving son John III, when stricken. His son finished third in the event that was shortened because of his dad’s heart attack. John Jr. later passed at Crozer Hospital in Upland, Pa.

On Saturday, John III competed at N.J.’s New Egypt Speedway, the team’s home track, in honor of his father. The track had a special “Blue Theme” in honor of “Big John,” who fielded blue & yellow trimmed race cars.

A long-time fan of the sport, John Jr. initially fielded Quarter-Midgets for his son at the Garden State Club “Little Wall” paved oval at N.J.’s Wall Stadium. After John III graduated from Quarter-Midgets, the father and son team then competed in dirt track Micro-Sprints at tracks such as Pa.’s Borger’s Speedway.

After success in that division, John Jr. began fielding a Sportsman car for John III. In 2014, John Jr. watched with pride as John III drove to the Sportsman championship at New Egypt.

This year, they began fielding the family Modified for Saturday night races at New Egypt, and entered special events, at tracks like Bridgeport, as well.

John Cornell Jr. was born in Newark, N.J. and lived in Rahway, N.J. for 37 years. For the past nine years, he resided in Neshanic Station. John was a Dispatcher for Station Cab in Rahway for 32 years, and was a proud Teamster Shop Stewart at Kristen Distributing in Elizabeth where he worked for 17 years. He was a Rahway Honorary Member PBA Local 31 and a 3rd degree member of the Rahway Knights of Columbus.

While John Jr. loved fishing, hunting, and gardening, his beloved passion was building race cars and watching his son John drive them.

Mr. Cornell Jr. is predeceased by his parents John J. Cornell Sr. and his mother Anna Cornell. He is survived by his wife Antoinette (nee Loglisci) Cornell of 35 years, one daughter Jackie Cornell-Bechelli and her husband Chris, son John J. Cornell III, two sisters: Rachelle Desien and her husband Joseph, Stephanie Setar and her husband Thomas, one grandson Lincoln Cornell Bechelli and his mother-in-law Mary Loglisci. He is also survived by several nieces and nephews.