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Denny Darnell passed away on Saturday

by David Zatz on

Denny Darnell started as a reporter, and became general manager of Bristol Motor Speedway in 1982.  The drag-racing NHRA lured him away to become director of communications, and then R.J. Reynolds hired him for NASCAR Winston Cup public relations for the early 1990s. Finally, Chrysler hired him to do motorsports public relations.

Darnell passed away unexpectedly on Saturday at the age of 70, less than a year after retiring from the racing scene.

He loved the Daytona 500,  and told the newspaper where he started out, the Kingsport (Tennessee) Times-News, that the high point of his career at Dodge was Dodge’s 1-2 finish in the 2008 Daytona 500. During his time, Dodge teams also won championships the NASCAR Sprint Cup (2012), and the NASCAR Nationwide Series (2010) along with Canadian NASCAR.

Social media outlets were full of praise for Mr. Darnell, from racers and others who worked with him. Allpar motorsports forum moderator Bob Gardetto wrote, “He always gave his time and complete attention, never beat around the bush, he gave you the information he knew, as much as he could say about a racing topic. He will be sadly missed by all.”

He will be buried on Wednesday at 11 am at the Holston View Cemetery (mourners are asked to assemble at the Springdale Missionary Baptist Church in Kingsport, by 10:15 am; burial starts after graveside services; and then a celebration of his life begins at 7 pm).

Mr. Darnell was known as “The General” to his friends; no cause for his death was listed in his obituary.

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