Author: Coughlin, Mike
Date published: April 9, 2010
Irecently experienced a very special moment in my drag racing career, and I want to share it with National DRAGSTER readers because I know many of you will completely understand and appreciate the story.
I've been fortunate enough to win a bunch of races and a few championships and share in the celebrations of numerous other victories and titles with my dad and brothers, but I don't know if I've ever been as excited as I was watching my 8-year-old son, Jack, make his first exhibition runs ever in front of a capacity crowd at the JEGS NHRA Cajun SPORTSnationals in Belle Rose, La.
We prepped Jack at our home track, National Trail Raceway, so he'd been down the dragstrip a few times in his little JEGS.com Jr. Dragster, but when they came around Saturday evening at Belle Rose and told Jack to get suited up for his pass and he saw those packed grandstands and all the hoopla of the race, it really hit home for him. He'd been pretty amped up all day. He must have asked me 100 times if we should warm up the car, and he had polished every inch of the car so hard I thought the paint was going to wear off.
The schedule ended up where I was racing my Top Sportsman car just before the four Jr. Dragsters on the property were scheduled to make their runs, so Jack was getting a little nervous when they pulled his car into the staging lanes. To be honest, I was sweating it a bit also, so I hurried through my driving duties as fast as I could so I could zoom back up there and let him know I was there for him.
Showing a lot of poise, he did a great job when his turn came up, and so did the other three Jr. Dragster drivers who were there. Everyone was so nice to Jack and made his first national event experience the best it could be. I really want to thank the other families for being so kind, as well as the event organizers for letting the kids have some fun.
Having my wife, Kriss, and our younger son, Clay, there made for a night we'll never forget. Clay's only 5, but he's already chirping about racing his brother, so I think Kriss and I will have our hands full with these two for many years to come.
As for my racing, we're very excited and humbled to come into the season once again as the defending Division 3 Top Sportsman champions. We've now won this title two times, once in 2007 and again last year, and it's such a special deal.
It truly takes a team to win in drag racing, and I feel like my guys have given me the best chance possible to do well each weekend because of the exhaustive work they do in the shop. My dad, Jeg Coughlin Sr., also has been a huge help in getting this JEGS.com Chevrolet Cobalt going straight down the track every time. It's really been on a string.
Being the champion brings out the best in your competitors, that's for sure. When people look over and see a yellow JEGS car in the other lane, they tend to bear down a little harder and really try their absolute best. I try very hard to race exactly the same way each and every lap no matter what the situation is or who might be in the other lane. That's the formula that has always worked best for me, so I see no reason to change anything.
Of course, when you win the title, everyone asks you if you can win it again. Well, drag racing is very unpredictable, so it's impossible to say. I do know we have all the necessary equipment, the best sponsor support anyone could ask for, and some of the brightest minds in the sport on our team. It's up to us to go out there and defend our title, and that's the best part of it all.
One of the things that has Top Sportsman and Top Dragster drivers pumped up this year is the fact that NHRA is allowing us to run at select national events. I recently made the trip to Charlotte for the inaugural NHRA Four-Wide Nationals and had a great time. I didn't win, but just the fact we were at that beautiful facility running alongside the big boys was great. It had been four years since I'd raced at a national event, so I made sure to soak it all in as much as I could. And it was cool to spend the weekend with my brother Jeg; his son, Jeggie; my nephew, Troy Jr., who raced in Super Comp; and Jeg's fiancÚ, Samantha, who also ran her Super Comp dragster there.
As for my "real" job, we're very proud to be celebrating JEGS' 50th anniversary this year. I still can't believe this company has been around 50 years; that's a pretty cool deal. I'm so proud of my dad and my brothers. I know my grandparents would be very proud of what we've done with the place. A special thanks to the 350 JEGS associates who make it all happen, as well as all the past employees who got us to this point. Most of all, we thank our customers. We've got the most loyal clientele in the world, and none of this would be possible without them.
Don't forget to go to JEGS.com and sign up for the '10 Chevrolet Camaro we're giving away. It's the first car giveaway we've done since 1972, so make sure you sign up.
Mike Coughlin is the driver of the JEGS.com Chevy Cobalt Top Sportsman entry.