Trinity Lutheran High School car club revs up

A car club existed at Trinity Lutheran High School for about five years.

The COVID-19 pandemic stalled it out, but this school year, the club has restarted under the name Cougar Cruisers.

A callout meeting was conducted in late September, and members decided to organize a cruise-in this fall to generate some funds for a car show next spring.

Between having around 20 members in the club and 89 vehicles registered in the recent cruise-in, the group is revving up to have a great first year back at the Seymour school.

“It was very surprising, but it made me feel really good about what we did and how hard we worked on it,” said senior Brooklyn Covey, who brought her dad and grandpa’s car to the event Oct. 23.

Several members brought vehicles to the show, but people from the community participated, too.

“At first, we never realized how big the car community in Jackson County was, and it’s cool to see everybody just come together and have fun,” said junior Paige Davidson, who drove her dad’s truck to the cruise-in. “It was shocking, especially the turnout we had from other students. There were a lot of other students that didn’t have to show up, but they did, like people that weren’t even in the club. That was pretty cool to me.”

Seniors Cole Brewer and Eli Ballard were happy with the turnout, too.

“It was pretty cool for Trinity to get this much attention. It went very well for the first time being organized by a bunch of boys mostly,” Brewer said, smiling.

“I think for our first function, it went pretty good,” Ballard said. “We had a couple unorganized things, but I think we can fix that in the car show, and it will be great. I think we all expected less (at the cruise-in). We weren’t expecting that many cars, so it was pretty good to see everyone there.”

Pastor Joshua Haugen is the faculty adviser for the club. When students approached him about getting the club going again, a meeting was set during the school’s 30-minute specials time.

“A few of us were really wanting to be in it, and there just really wasn’t a lot of us that really wanted to go out at first, but we’ve got this group now,” senior Andrew Bell said of seeing the club grow from that first meeting.

To prepare for organizing a car show, Haugen said the group agreed to start with a cruise-in. A car show requires coming up with categories, having judges and giving out trophies, while a cruise-in is an opportunity for people to display their vehicles without any awards up for grabs.

“We wanted to get our hand in what it was like, and we also wanted to try and raise some funds for the car show because we didn’t know how much we really had upfront,” Bell said.

Members were asked what they could do for the cruise-in. Several said they could bring a vehicle, while others helped with advertising, registration, cooking food to sell and playing music.

“We created a flyer, and we tried to get those out to some of the businesses,” Bell said. “It really helped us a lot because it got shared around a lot on Facebook.”

Advertising on the radio and in the newspaper helped generate community interest, too.

“We wanted to gauge how much community involvement there would be because if you only have 15 cars, well, maybe we don’t want to worry about a car show and do a few more cruise-ins,” Haugen said.

Students and the community, however, came through big time, as there were 89 vehicles and the event raised nearly $900.

The club also benefited from the mentoring of Dutch and Janet Stamper of North Vernon. Janet said their background in car shows started about 25 years ago with a car club in Jennings County.

“They put on their own car shows, and then we went into doing car shows for the Red Cross to raise money over there,” Janet said. “Then the Lutheran church over there had a couple car shows, so we just have a lot of experience over the years.”

Haugen asked them if they would be interested in mentoring the Trinity club, and Janet said they responded, “Yes, absolutely.” The Stampers have two grandchildren who attend Trinity and are in the car club.

“They thought in the beginning, they wanted to do a car show at first,” Janet said. “I told them, ‘You really need to do a cruise-in to get some experience, what can go wrong,’ and it was a good learning experience, and they handled it very well. There’s a lot more to doing a car show than there is a cruise-in.”

The Stampers are continuing to work with Haugen and the club members to organize a car show for the spring of 2023.

Their advice?

“Stick together. Work together as a team,” Dutch said.

“The more organized it is, the easier it’s going to be,” Janet said.

Now that the club has some money in the bank, Haugen said members agreed it would be nice to get T-shirts made. Covey and fellow senior Samantha Enzinger have that designed and hope to have shirts available for purchase soon.

The group also is taking what it learned from organizing the cruise-in to apply to the car show to make it even better.

“There are things we’ve got to streamline, especially for a car show, and then part of it is pick that date and start working toward that,” Haugen said.

Members are ready to put the work in again to make it a success.

“I’m looking forward to correcting our mistakes and hopefully doing everything the best we can,” Ballard said.

“I think it just brings a lot of people together, and it’s a great thing to work together on,” Covey said. “I’m excited to see how many more people will come and look around.”