Sunday, May 19, 2024

From stock car to prom car

Episode 425

May 14, 2023

Styling in a Prom Car

Tradition at many high school prom nights is for dates to be transported by a bevy of methods to the venue. Presque Isle High School has such a show, a prom parade. Couples gather at the North Street Plaza about a mile from high school.

The group of prom goers admire the assortment of rides, elegant gowns and tuxedo wearing guys. At a predetermined departure time, the vehicles parade to the high school. This parade featured tractors, pickup trucks, potato trucks, Corvettes, and assortments of other cars.

For me the most unique ride was via an actual stock car temporarily set up for the short ride to the school but soon to readied for racing at Speedway 95 in Hermon. The driver for this ride was Jaylee Howlett, the daughter of street stock car racer JR Howlett from Mapleton.

Jaylee has been a part of the racing scene with her dad, JR and mom Julie for as long as she can remember. Last year she hatched the idea for the perfect prom ride when she discussed with her dad about using the #54 Camaro.

It did not take much convincing and her dad attacked the preparation of his stock car for the prom. Over the winter the 1985 Chevy Camaro Street Stock went through normal off-season repairs and maintenance only this time with a twist.

The race car paint scheme was color-coordinated to match her, and prom date Tyler Farnum’s chosen theme colors. Tyler by-the-way is the son of another Aroostook County stock car racer, Matt Farnum. The Farnum family and Howlett’s live about a mile apart in Mapleton and have raced together for years and are good friends.

The Car

Nearly every racer does pre-season prep and repair work on their cars during the off season. JR Howlett and his brother Mike had a little extra incentive to prep their car and have it ready for the May 6th prom date. The following photos show the amount of love and attention this dad and uncle poured into the street stock race car.

The bare bones look of the Camaro which often is how far racers disassemble their cars to do modifications, repairs, and painting. (JR Howlett Racing photo)

Once modifications and repairs are performed the interior receives a coat of white paint which allows racers to see leaks or other disturbances that a darker paint scheme may hide. (JR Howlett Racing photo)

The average fan may not appreciate or understand the amount of work that goes into the building of a racer as the car zooms by in front of them on the racetrack. Ask Mike Howlett in the background and his brother Wayne (JR) and they would fill you in on some details. The two have been racing about 13 years. When asked about his favorite memories he replied, “One of my best memories was racing my brother-in-law Jeff (Willette) side-by-side for many laps and John Dixion side-by-side as well. And another memory was getting 3rd place at Unity Raceway. That made me feel pretty good knowing you were from out of town and being able to compete with the local racers. And Jaylee was there with me.” (JR Howlett Racing photo)

Nearing the end of the rebuild new or re-used sheetmetal is attached to give the Camaro shape that fans everywhere recognize. It is also time to say good-bye to last year’s paint color, red. (JR Howlett Racing photo)

The black primary color (85 Chevy black) selected by Jaylee is applied and becomes the background for the neon green numbers and lettering in preparation for the Senior Prom reveal. Time for dad to sit back, relax, and admire the quality work. (JR Howlett Racing photo)

The reveal to the public occurred at the North Street Plaza in Presque Isle shortly before the prom parade. The race car was trailered to the location. Jaylee and JR seem pleased with the #54 in its racing livery. (JR Howlett Racing photo)

Prom Time

Once the prom parade proceeds from the North Street Plaza, tradition dictates that the vehicles pass under the catwalk at the high school. The dates get out of their rides and are introduced with a brief word about their ride is included with the intros.

This is Jaylee and Tyler’s introduction as recorded by Jill Willett with introduction by class advisor Mr. Powers:

The doors on a street stock racer are welded shut thus requiring an assist from prom date Tyler Farnum. Jaylee had to remove her high heeled prom shoes for more conservative “driving shoes”. Note the passenger side has a temporary Kirkey Racing seat installed for the prom parade. (JR Howlett Racing photo)

Pre-prom parade photo with mom, Julie and dad Wayne (JR). Jaylee plans to take accounting at Northern Maine Community College. She works for Falcon Transportation in sales. She plans to get her brokerage license. (JR Howlett Racing photo)

Group photo at the prom site the new Legacy Ranch & Event Center, Mars Hill, Maine. (Photo courtesy Legacy Ranch & Event Center)

If anyone has other unique senior prom vehicles or senior parade information, feel free to email me at [email protected].

Let’s go racing,

Tom Hale

Soli Deo Gloria (Matthew 5:16)