Jeg Coughlin Sr. was drag racing before 1960, but the JEGS Automotive/ JEGS Mail Order business he started as a local speed shop in downtown Columbus, Ohio is celebrating its 50th year this season. Coughlin also went to work rearing a family of drag racing champions.
Four Coughlin brothers now work as vice-presidents in JEGS Delaware, Ohio headquarters, but all drag race in various levels in NHRA. John competes in Top Dragster and Comp. Mike races Top Sportsman. Troy races Pro Street and Pro Mod. Four-time Pro Stock champion Jeg Jr. races in Sportsman ranks as well.
The four brothers have young children who race also, five males and four females who have drag raced Junior Dragsters and go-karts. The oldest male, Troy Jr. at 18, was the first of the third generation to win an NHRA national event in his Super Comp.
But one Coughlin grandson, Cody, at age 14 just can’t accept the family tradition of going straight and has forged a path to circle racing.
I’ve grown up liking the longness of the races, Coughlin said. “I like being in the car a lot longer.”
Cody Coughlin has big dreams.
“I’ve watched Jeff Gordon, Jimmie Johnson and Tony Stewart,” Coughlin said. “I’ve always wanted to be like those guys.”
It seems that speed runs through the family veins, but business savvy seems to be a part of their genetic makeup too.
JEGS presents ubiquitous advertising in NHRA, but in recent years JEGS has become a contingency sponsor in NASCAR Sprint Cup and Nationwide series. Coming September 18 for the first time, the “big yellow and black” JEGS logo will be on the hood of a NASCAR entry with Kevin Harvick’s No. 2 NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Chevrolet.
Perhaps JEGS is preparing to have its own son carry the family colors into the NASCAR world. Young Coughlin seems to ready for that.
“I do see myself moving up there.” Coughlin said. “I see myself becoming the next Jeff Gordon or Jimmie Johnson.”
Carrying the JEGS banner has business purposes. In NHRA drag racing Team JEGS serves a dual purpose of branding and racing. With a third generation JEGS racer seeking alternate forms of racing an advertising role takes shape also.
“It’s for the business,” Coughlin said. “That’s not the reason I chose circle tracks, but it also helps.”
It’s a long way to the top levels of NASCAR and many learning curves are in the way for a young student like Cody, but he seems eager for the challenges. .
“I think the toughest thing I had to learn was learning how to pass,” Coughlin said. “Growing up in a drag family watching them go down the drag strip, you’re obviously not passing anybody or close to contact. Hopefully at least, you’re just going down the drag strip.
“My biggest challenge has been just learning how to pick the right spot of the track to pass and judging if you’re fast enough to pass him before the turn so you don’t push off and shoving all the way or something like that — racing clean. “
Two-time ASA champion Gary St. Amant, friend of four-time NASCAR champion Jimmie Johnson, is Coughlin’s Late Model coach and car chief. Crew chief Clay Filson makes sure good equipment is prepared right.
“I think I got a good group of guys, young Coughlin said. “Gary St. Amant and Clay Filson, all those guys, and also my mom, dad and sister are big support.”
One day in about five years a JEGS logo might just be on the hood of a NASCAR Sprint Cup Chevrolet in the fast hands of a family member on his way to the Chase for Sprint Cup.
Should Cody Coughlin make it to NASCAR, he may have a very familiar sponsor backing him. One he won’t need to study.
That dream has surely begun.
FYI WIRZ is the swift presentation of pertinent motorsports topics compiled, condensed and often written by Dwight Drum @ Racetake.com.
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