Jennerstown Speedway (Nate Smallwood/NASCAR)
For the first time in more than a decade, Jennerstown Speedway will once again race under the NASCAR banner, as the Speedway has signed a sanctioning agreement with NASCAR for the 2022 season.
Originating in 1929, the Jennerstown Speedway Complex located in Jennerstown, Pennsylvania, is one of the nation’s oldest short track racing facilities that is still in operation. The Speedway, which began as a quarter-mile dirt track, was eventually expanded to a large half-mile dirt oval.
In 1987, the future of the Speedway would be forever changed under the direction of Piney Lasky when he made the decision to pave the .522-mile oval and then sanctioned the Speedway with NASCAR. These decisions would create a rich history with some of the greatest NASCAR drivers of all time.
NASCAR championship drivers such as Dale Earnhardt, Kyle Busch, Jimmie Johnson and Joey Logano have all competed at the scenic Laurel Highlands facility. The Speedway hosted 16 NASCAR Busch North Series events between 1987 and 2000, and 14 NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour events between 1990 and 2006.
Despite thriving for many years and hosting some of the nation’s largest late model events, the Speedway closed its doors at the completion of the 2008 race season. It appeared that race cars would never see the track again.
In 2014, a local group of motorsport enthusiasts tried to save the Speedway by reopening the venue and ran an abbreviated schedule. The group was unsuccessful in their effort and once again the future of the Speedway was in doubt.
With the foreseeable future showing all signs the Speedway would indefinitely close, a group of local successful businessmen banned together to lease the Speedway and try their hand at what could be the last chance for the Speedway to survive. Fortunately, the Speedway operated in 2015, and it began to flourish in the following seasons.
Subsequently, in 2019, the Speedway was purchased by John Morocco, Richard Pologruto and Larry Hemminger. The group, along with General Manager Billy Hribar, have seen record car counts, record crowds and great improvements to the facility, including a $350,000 Musco LED lighting project.
“The Speedway is our field of dreams,” says Hribar, who has served as the general manager of the Speedway since 2017. “The key to our success is consistency. Drivers and fans both know we put the best interest of the racers and fans in mind when making all decisions. These decisions have allowed our program to grow from just 10 late models in 2015 to a record 34 late models taking points in the 2021 season. The weekly crowd can exceed 5,000 fans of all ages cheering for their favorite drivers. It’s the place to be on Saturday nights.”
So why make the decision to once again make Jennerstown Speedway part of the NASCAR Advance Auto Parts Weekly Series?
“It’s an outstanding opportunity for our fans and drivers to showcase the Jennerstown success to the entire country,” Hribar said. “Additionally, we felt the timing was right to bring Jennerstown back to its NASCAR roots, opening up marketing opportunities for both the track and drivers as well as allow the drivers to compete back on the national level.”
NASCAR is just as excited as the Speedway is in the renewed partnership.
“We’re looking forward to welcoming Jennerstown Speedway back to the NASCAR Advance Auto Parts Weekly Series family of tracks,” said Brandon Igdalsky, NASCAR managing director, weekly and touring series. “Jennerstown has such a storied history with NASCAR, and is going to be a great venue for showcasing talented drivers on a weekly basis to the local fans who mean so much to the sport.”
Jennerstown Speedway will host its season-opener with a six-division show on Saturday, May 7, 2022. For additional information, please visit Jennerstown.org.