Family roots run deep at Pennsylvania’s Jennerstown Speedway

Jennerstown Speedway prior to the Jennerstown Salutes 150 Presented By DGV for the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour in Jennerstown, Pennsylvania on May 29, 2021. (Nate Smallwood/NASCAR)
(Photo: Nate Smallwood/NASCAR)

Editor’s note: Due to inclement weather, Jennerstown Speedway’s season will begin on May 14.

On Saturday, May 7, Jennerstown Speedway will kick off its 2022 season and return to its NASCAR Roots as part of the NASCAR Advance Auto Parts Weekly Racing Series.

NASCAR has deep roots at Jennerstown Speedway, but the Jennerstown drivers have deep roots of their own. On Saturday, five different drivers will have family roots spanning three generations of racing at Jennerstown Speedway.

All-time Martella’s Pharmacy’s Late Model winner and defending track champion Barry Awtey is in the middle of his three generation span. Barry’s father, Bill Awtey, was a household name at the Speedway in its dirt and early asphalt years. He’s perhaps best known for his motor building skills and his knowledge of street stocks and charger cars.

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Bill’s knowledge and passion for cars lives on through his oldest son, Barry, who just won his seventh Late Model division championship all while carrying on his father’s legacy by helping others on a weekly basis.

In 2021 the speedway saw another member of the Awtey family at the speedway. Barry’s youngest daughter, Carley, became the third generation of the Awtey family to compete at Jennerstown Speedway.

Barry hopes to build on his family legacy in 2022 by extending his all-time win record as well as pursuing a staggering eighth Late Model championship.

The Awteys are not the only family with generations of success at the speedway.

Multiple generations of the Awtey family have enjoyed success at Jennerstown Speedway through the years. (Photo: Jennerstown Speedway)
Multiple generations of the Awtey family have enjoyed success at Jennerstown Speedway through the years. (Photo: Jennerstown Speedway)

The Hemminger family, consisting of grandfather Larry Hemminger, son Michael Hemminger and grandson Will Hemminger, have each won track championships at Jennerstown Speedway across several divisions. Larry also captured the 1993 National Dwarf Car championship.

Michael will once again chase a championship in the Martella’s Pharmacy’s Late Models. In 2021, Will won the inaugural One Stop Auto Sales Pro Stock championship at the age of 15, becoming the speedway’s youngest champion ever. Will is looking to defend his championship in 2022, but it won’t happen without a challenge from yet another third generation driver.

Josh Dunmyer, the grandson of Cliff Dunmyer and son of 1997 NASCAR Northeast Region champion and multi-time Jennerstown champion Jeff Dunmyer, will be competing this year in the One Stop Auto Sales Pro Stock division in search of his first championship.

Josh will carry the familiar family color scheme and the No. 07 with him throughout the year. He only contested a limited schedule in 2021, but showed great speed and promise in his first year in a full-size race car.

Also part of the multi-generational families at Jennerstown are the Price and Marhefka families.

Gerry Price Sr. and Rob Marhefka Sr. are both members of the Jennerstown Speedway Hall of Fame and their grandchildren are currently active as competitors at the track.

Brandon Marhefka represents Marhefka Motorsports in the Martella’s Pharmacy’s Late Model division. His father, Rob Marhefka, is a former winner in a late model and now serves as the family crew chief.

For the Price family, father Todd and son Steven will be back in action in 2022. Todd will drive the family-owned Late Model while Steve, who competes on a limited basis in the Late Model class, will chase a championship in the One Stop Auto Sales Pro Stock division.

“Part of Jennerstown’s success is due to the amazing support of all our drivers’ families and fans,” explained Jennerstown Speedway General Manager Billy Hribar. “The racing community is a huge family at Jennerstown and you don’t have to be blood relatives to be a part of it, but to see drivers’ family history span five decades is truly remarkable.”

Jennerstown Speedway’s 2022 points season will officially begin on Saturday, May 7. Grandstand gates will open at 4 p.m. and opening ceremonies will begin at 5:50 p.m.

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