Friday 19 November 2021 | 5:25 p.m.
NASCAR driver Garrett Smithley has been racing since his sophomore year in high school.
On Saturday, the Ligonier native and the only NASCAR Cup Series driver from Pennsylvania will attend the Greater Latrobe Speedway reunion at St. James Lutheran Church in Youngstown.
The annual event honors the drivers who raced on the race track, which was located off Center Drive across from Legion Keener Field. The speedway held NASCAR qualifiers from 1952 to 1965.
Smithley, 29, was born in Ligonier and is a NASCAR Cup Series driver for MBM Motorsports. He has competed in 70 races over the past four years. He drives the # 13 Ford Mustang.
His family left Ligonier when he was young and moved to Virginia, then to Peachtree City, Georgia.
He’s home to celebrate Thanksgiving with his grandparents.
âI think it’s good that Garrett is coming to see how NASCAR started,â said meeting organizer Bruce Shirey. âHe will meet some of the former drivers who have raced on the circuit and see the memories we have accumulated over the years. “
One of those drivers is Duffy Johnson, Smithley’s uncle.
âI didn’t know I had family in NASCAR until I started racing,â Smithley said. âI heard about the reunion but never had the chance to attend it before this season. I can’t wait to see everyone.
Smithley started racing cars in his sophomore year in high school in Bandolero cars at the Atlanta Motor Speedway and the Lanier Raceplex in Braselton, Georgia. He was named rookie of the year in 2008.
His NASCAR models are Dale Jarrett and Carl Edwards.
He also raced for Rick Ware Racing in the NASCAR Xfinity Truck and ARCA Racing series.
Smithley still has friends and family including his grandmother, Ina Mae Smithley, in the Ligonier Valley and he was invited to compete at Jennerstown Speedway last summer.
âIt was quite a trip,â said Smithley. âItâs the dream of my life to race at Jennerstown, and I was lucky in a CARS Tour race on July 4. I still have it. wanted to run there and I finished fifth.
Smithley joined NASCAR in 2015 and raced five Truck Series races. In 2016 he started racing in the Xfinity Series and in 2018 in the Cup Series. He competed in 27 of 36 races last summer.