Garrett Smithley, NASCAR driver from Ligonier, to attend Latrobe race track reunion

Friday, November 19, 2021 | 5:25 PM

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 be attending the Greater Latrobe Speedway Reunion at St. James Lutheran church in Youngstown.

The annual event honors the drivers who raced at the speedway, which was located off Center Drive across from Legion Keener Field. The speedway held NASCAR qualifiers from 1952-1965.

Smithley, 29, was born in Ligonier and is a NASCAR Cup Series driver for MBM Motorsports. He’s competed in 70 races the past four years. He drives the No. 13 Ford Mustang.

His family left Ligonier when he was young and moved to Virginia and then to Peachtree City, Ga.

He is home to celebrate Thanksgiving with his grandparents.

“I think it’s good that Garrett comes to see how NASCAR got started,” said reunion organizer Bruce Shirey said. “He’ll get to some of the old drivers that raced at the speedway and see the memorabilia we’ve accumulated over the years.”

One of those drivers is Duffy Johnson, Smithley’s uncle.

“I didn’t know I had family in NASCAR until after I started racing,” Smithley said. “I’ve heard about the reunion, but I never got a chance to attend until this season. I’m eager to see everyone.”

Smithley began racing cars his sophomore year in high school in Bandolero cars at the Atlanta Motor Speedway and Lanier Raceplex in Braselton, Ga. He was named rookie of the year in 2008.

His NASCAR role models are Dale Jarrett and Carl Edwards.

He also raced for Rick Ware Racing in the NASCAR Xfinity Truck series 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 this past summer.

“”It’s been quite a journey,” Smithley said. “It’s been my lifelong dream to race at Jennerstown, and I got that chance in a CARS Tour race on July 4. I always wanted to race there and I finished fifth.”

Smithley joined NASCAR in 2015 and ran five Truck Series races. In 2016, he started racing the Xfinity Series and in 2018 the Cup Series. He ran in 27 of 36 races this past summer.

Paul Schofield is a Tribune-Review Staff Writer. You can contact Paul by email at or via Twitter .

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