Family of East Brunswick auto racer continues his legacy

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EAST BRUNSWICK – East Brunswick is mourning the loss of its own “Chairman of the Board.”
Joe Kafka, the first Street Stock division champion at Wall Stadium in 1984, passed away on May 9 at Riverview Medical Center in Red Bank. He was 74.
Born in New Brunswick, Kafka was a lifelong resident of East Brunswick.
The patriarch of an auto racing family, he was known as “Chairman of the Board” of his K-Company stock car racers at the Wall, Flemington and New Egypt speedways, according to information provided by Earl Krause of Area Auto Racing News.

When Wall debuted its new, full-fender Street Stock division, Kafka began racing on Saturday nights at age 41. His signature stock car became the patriotic red, white and blue No. 76, Krause said.

His sons-in-law, Bernie Olender, Mike Mee, Ray Rovira and Rich DiMaria, all competed under the K-Company banner on Saturdays. Then, the “Junior K-Company” of grandchildren Gabriella Olender, Dalton Rovira and Kevin Mee began racing in the Wall Stadium Sunday Series of Champ Kart and Micro-Stocks and the Winter Indoor Racing Series, according to Krause.

The day before Kafka passed, while in the hospital, he heard the news that Dalton and Kevin had both won Go-kart features at Wall that weekend.
Joe was retired as an operating engineer with Local 825. He attended St. Bartholomew Roman Catholic Church in East Brunswick and served as an usher there.
Funeral services were held at Brunswick Memorial Home, followed by a Mass of Christian Burial at St. Bartholomew Church, East Brunswick. Cremation was private.
Contributions in memory of Kafka may be made to St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, Memorial & Honor Program, 501 St. Jude Place, Memphis, Tennessee 38105.