Juliaun Pracht is currently a student at the West Kentucky Community and Technical College in Paducah, Kentucky. With a strong passion for drag racing and working on cars, Juliaun decided to pursue technical school. Juliaun had no idea just how much his life would change, all thanks to an “In The Pits- Respect is Learned” flyer his instructor had passed out during one of their automotive classes. Welcome to Juliaun Pracht!
Juliaun, what inspired you to take automotive classes at West Kentucky Community and Technical College?
What inspired me was that I ended up purchasing a 1972 F-100, an old Ford truck, and I tore it apart. I had no idea what I was looking at. From there, I just learned that I enjoy working on this stuff, so I decided I want to take it on a little more professionally, so I changed my plans out of high school, applied for this program, and went through it. It has been worth it.What was one of your favorite projects to work on in the classroom with your instructor Robert?Robert let me bring in one of my own cars. I bought an old Mustang that I wanted to race, and we had an engine repair class, so he said, “If you can find an old car, if you have a car, anything that you want to take the engine out, rebuild it, we’ll do it at the school.” He then said, “As long as you pay for the parts, of course, we can do all of the lab work on your car.” So that’s what I did, and that car was there for several months, and I had a fun time doing it. Overall, it was a good experience.
What was it like applying for the annual “In The Pits- Respect is Learned” contest? Tell us how you found out that you WON the opportunity!
Robert handed me and another student a flyer with Technician Academy’s ‘In The Pits’ contest, and I decided, “Yeah, that’d be fun to apply for.” You had to send in a written application, explaining why you should be selected to work with them. It took about a month to hear back from them, and I was very excited when I got an email saying that I was selected as a finalist. After those written applications, we had to submit a video expanding more. So, I took my video at school, with my car. Sean Collins, who oversees that program, called me and asked a couple questions and informed me that I had won. I was very excited.
That really is fantastic. So, what was it like going to the National Hot Rod Association Nationals on Labor Day and getting the chance to work with the Randy Meyer Race Team?
It was definitely a little nerve-wracking. Of course, I’m kind of starstruck too. We have Randy Meyer sitting in front of me, and I’m talking to him. He’s a legendary racer; been racing for 40- years. Plus, two drivers that were just killing it that year. I ended up talking to the whole crew. They’re all cool people. It was nerve-wracking, running out onto the track at a national event, one of the biggest in the country, with lots of people staring at me. But of course, as soon as the first one was over, it was so much fun.
Lastly, Juliaun, what are your plans for the future?
In December, I was talking to my parts manager at the dealership I worked at, when I got a phone call from Randy Meyer himself, saying he needed a full-time crew member. So that was quite the experience, to go from working at a dealership to getting a call from the racing legend himself, asking me to work for him. So, I’ve already been working with him now for a couple weeks. I’ve learned so much in that time, on how the cars work, and a lot more on how the race team operates and it’s been a great experience. In about two weeks’ time, we’ll be leaving for Phoenix to do some testing, and I’m very excited to go from just winning a contest to work with them at one race, to working with him full-time and going to every race he has, for an entire season.
Juliaun’s instructor, Robert Gunn says, Well, I think it’s the passion that he has for the automobile repair industry. He has a big passion for racing, because when I had him as a student, he bought a Mustang, and then he used that Mustang for a lot of the class labs. He rebuilt the engine on that for our engine repair course. I have training units, but he wanted to do it on his own car, so he just loved that, and it’s nice to see. You know if the student wants to work on their own car, they’re probably going to be successful working on other people’s cars. I mean, he bought tools. I have a lot of students that put off buying tools. Well, he was buying tools the whole time he was in the program, and he’s still buying tools today.