For the Coughlins, Father's Day is about giving back
When you are born into the Coughlin family, drag racing participation isn't mandatory; it's recommended.
This weekend, as the NHRA's Mello Yello Drag Racing Series rolls into Bristol Dragway for the Thunder Valley Nationals, there will be three generations of the decorated racing family in attendance for the Father's Day horsepower spectacular.
Jeg Coughlin Sr., no longer races, choosing to live vicariously through his four sons, and grandchildren, two of whom race in NHRA competition.
The foundation for the Coughlin dynasty began in the late 1950s when the patriarch started racing first in Gassers, before moving to supercharged alcohol dragsters and later the kings of the sport, Top Fuel, in the early 1970s.
Coughlin stepped away from drag racing in the early 1980s to focus more on his vastly growing mail order parts business. The forethought would lead to incredible success in business, but also for a racing foundation which would sustain throughout the generations.
Coughlin returned later in the decades with his sons, who all fielded race cars in the NHRA's lower categories. Son Troy became the first to go professional in 1994, followed four years later by Jeg. Jr., more commonly known as Jeggie.
“It’s been extremely exciting for me,” Jeg Sr. said. “Drag racing has been the piece of equipment that we’ve used all of our life to keep our family excited with each other and working together, and it’s been an absolute thrill for me to see how it has developed over the years. When Father’s Day rolls around the family has been so close, and it’s been fabulous.”
Three members of the Coughlin family will be racing down the Bristol Dragway quarter-mile this weekend including sons Troy Coughlin Sr., and Jeg Jr., as well Troy’s son, Troy Jr.
Coughlin sons Mike and John, who race on the Lucas Oil Drag Racing tour, also race but will not be in competition this weekend.
Troy Sr., the second oldest of the four racing Coughlin sons, is a past Bristol winner and two-time NHRA Pro Mod champion. He would love nothing more than to provide his dad a Father's Day present, as well as one for himself.
“That would be so awesome,” said Troy Sr., who has two Pro Modified series championships to his credit “To be able to do it would be a feat in itself, but to do it on Father’s Day and to be able to take the trophy I would get and give it to dad, that would be so incredible. We are so blessed to be able to do this, and it’s all because of the great foundation provided to us by our father and mother.”
Of the Coughlins, it's Jeg Jr., more commonly referred to as Jeggie, who has delivered the most Father's Day victories, with the first one coming as a twist of fate. In 1990, the NHRA Springnationals, then in Columbus, Ohio, was postponed until the next week, ironically Father's Day.
Not only did Jeggie win his first day on this monumental day, but has won on Father's Day a total of five times.
"I remember being able to celebrate the first win with so much family, and with my father, was beyond cool," Jeggie recalled. "He was so instrumental in me and my brothers being out here, that it made it extra special to deliver for him. I still relive the day in my mind."
Troy Jr., the first of Jeg's grandchildren, made the quantum leap from into Top Fuel this season, to become the first since his grandfather to race at the top of drag racing's food chain. He drives the Seal Mater Top Fuel dragster for Kalitta Motorsports and admits his inspiration came watching his grandfather race in classic races researched on YouTube.
While he's won in the Lucas Oil Drag Racing Series and has scored a professional victory while doing a one-year stint in Pro Mod, Troy Jr., but Top Fuel is a different kind of monster.
“It’s a world of difference,” Troy Jr. said. “Everything I’ve ever driven is so much different from a Top Fuel dragster. It’s going from zero to 1,000-foot in 3.7 seconds, and the rate of acceleration is incredible. The wheelbase of the car is so much longer. It responds so differently, and I’ve been learning and adjusting to the changes. It’s a big honor for sure.”
Winning for the family this weekend, for Troy Jr., it couldn't get any better.
“It’s really something that I’ve thought about since I was five,” admitted Troy Jr. “You might have to pinch me there. It doesn’t get any cooler than that. That would be one for the storybooks right there."
Bobby Bennett is the Publisher/Editor of CompetitionPlus.com, a leading independent online drag racing magazine, since 1999. For the latest in dragster news worldwide, visit www.competitionplus.com or follow on Twitter @competitionplus