Kentucky student gets the chance to work with a drag racing team
Many can dream of being a racing car driver. Only a few pursue these dreams and are fortunate enough to work with a professional drag racing team.
Technician.Academy and Randy Meyer Racing have selected Juliaun Pracht, a resident of Paducah and a student of West Kentucky Community and Technical College, as one of two winners of the Respect is Learned In The Pits competition. Pracht, 20, will work alongside the RMR Top Alcohol drag racing team Sept. 2-5 at the National Hot Rod Association US Nationals in Indianapolis.
“Working on (a car) this high end and expensive, under such scrutiny from owners, is a bit nerve-racking. But at the same time it’s very exciting to see if I can prove myself to them, ”said Pracht.
Pracht, a Graves County High School graduate, is the second WKCTC student to win the competition, according to a press release from the college. Pracht is expected to graduate with an associate’s degree in automotive technology in December. He said he had so far completed two years of automotive technology course at WKCTC.
When he first moved to Kentucky in 2016, Pracht planned to join the military and become a pilot after graduating from high school. Those plans changed when he got his hands on a 1972 Ford F-100 in need of repair.
“I didn’t know what I was doing at the time, but I decided to tear up this engine,” said Pracht.
In the end, all he needed was a carburetor. Taking these machines apart, however, was the spark Pracht needed to pursue an automotive career, a path that brought him to work on the tracks at the Lucas Oil Raceway in Indianapolis.
The first time Pracht saw a nitro car, a car used for drag racing, in person was at an NHRA race in St. Louis in 2018. He and his group had arrived late at the race and the nitro cars were already on the track. .
“The very first time I saw one was that it was flying alongside me at 300mph,” said Pracht.
Pracht said he spends most of his free time working on cars, whether it’s polishing his 2008 Shelby Mustang GT 500 or fixing his neighbors’ cars. In addition to working on cars for a living at Linwood Motors in Metropolis, Illinois, race goers can spot Pracht zooming at high speed in his silver Mustang on weekends at Beacon Dragway, a 1/8 International Hot Rod mile sanctioned by the Track Association in Paducah.
Pracht’s dream is to be a driver. To be a driver, you have to take care of the car he puts on the track.
“You spend 99% of the time working on the car and only 1% of the time driving it,” said Pracht.
Pracht said he enjoyed working on the car; he almost has to do it if he wants to be able to enjoy driving it, added Pracht.
“You really start to understand what the car goes through when you hit it like I do. I can be mean with that sometimes, but you kind of understand that the car has its own personality, ”said Pracht.
Bob Gunn, an instructor at the Skilled Craft Training Center in Hickory, which is part of the WKCTC Automotive Technology program, said Pracht was one of the top students in his class.
“I would love to have more students like him because you can just tell he wants to do that,” Gunn said.
Pracht, along with the other contest winner, will work exclusively with one of the two RMR dragsters from the Top Alcohol team, according to the Technician.Academy contest page. The RMR team have won the Indianapolis race for the past two consecutive years, according to the WKCTC press release.