Latrobe Speedway racer steps up for kids

Latrobe Speedway racer steps up for kids


By DJ Johnson For the Bulletin


Modified 4 Cylinder racer Tifani McElhose has taken on a few more duties for 2024.

The Plum Borough native will oversee the Kidz Club at Latrobe Speedway with Ashley Ghrist and Kaitlynn Spangler’s help.

“The lady that did it in 2023 won’t be at the races and she wanted someone to handle the Kidz Klub in 2024,” McElhose said.

For McElhose, she enjoys working with the kids.


“I’ve been up there helping since I started racing,” McElhose said. Whenever they needed drivers, I’d be up there helping. I’ll miss two races for two family functions.”

The 23-year-old racer began racing Quads when she was 8 years old.

In 2019, racing cars were suggested to McElhose by Latrobe Speedway promotor Dennis Bates.


“Dennis suggested that I should race cars, they are safer,” McElhose remembered.

That was after an incident where McElhose suffered a concussion and was flown to a Pittsburgh area hospital. McElhose doesn’t recall much from that night in 2019.

McElhose’s dad built the car that she raced once in 2019.

“I never count the 2019 race because I really didn’t know what I was doing,” McElhose said. “I loved it; I was actually disappointed in myself because I wanted to finish in the top 10, but I finished 11th.”

“I’d never seen the cars race before my first race,” McElhose said about her 2019 race.

“In my first race of 2020, I finished in third place. In 2021, I won one race, the season-ending Fall Fest, and in 2023, I finished third in the final point standings for the Modified 4 Cylinders,” McElhose said.

2024 will be her fifth season behind the wheel. McElhose said she likes the competition at Latrobe Speedway.

“The Mod-4 racers at Latrobe are very respectful,” McElhose said. “If you are the quicker car and have the lane, they usually give you the spot.”

Always up for a challenge, McElhose doesn’t mind when she starts back in the field of cars.

McElhose can be seen in her black driving suit with flames frequently in the grandstands at Latrobe Speedway.

“I like being in the stands with my family and friends that come to watch the races,” McElhose said. “We don’t change much on the car, so my dad and I get to spend time in the stands after preparing the car.”

McElhose is responsible for funding her racing habit. “I pay for everything; my dad hauls the car for me,” She says with a smile.

People might be surprised to hear that McElhose works on cars.

“I work on cars,” McElhose said. “I can basically take a car completely apart and put it back together. I’ve worked with my dad in his auto body shop since I was 8 years old.”

In addition to her day job as a collision center appraiser, McElhose also does vehicle upholstery at night.

It would seem that having a full-time job, a part-time gig, and racing on the weekends would be enough to keep anyone busy. But McElhose loves giving back to the kids who come to the races.

“After the very first Mod-4 race, I had a bunch of little kids approach me because I was a girl racer,” McElhose explained. “Ever since then, I’ve wanted to do good for those kids. I want more drivers to be involved in the Kidz Klub because the kids are the future of the sport. If kids don’t start somewhere or if they don’t like it, then we won’t have a sport anymore.”

McElhose published the Kidz Klub 2024 schedule on the track’s Facebook page earlier this week. Each week, there will be an activity for members of the Kidz Klub. McElhose is asking drivers to be involved in many activities, such as the Pit Stop Fuel and Pit Stop Tire Challenge. Plus, there will be a tour of the pits, sack races, a water balloon toss, and more events.

More information about the Kidz Klub is available at under the Kidz Klub tab.

The first Latrobe Speedway Test-n-Tune for all divisions will be on April 6, beginning at 3 p.m., with gates opening at 2 p.m. Admission to the grandstands is free. There will be another session on April 13, with opening night for the FAST-FIVE divisions on April 27, at 7 p.m.


The Ligonier native’s tentative schedule has changed going into Saturday’s NASCAR Xfinity Series race at Richmond. Smithley’s next race is tentatively set for April 6, at the Martinsville Speedway.

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