Coughlin ready for second chance at Lake Placid bobsled course
DELAWARE, Ohio (Dec. 24) -- Fresh off his second straight and fifth overall world championship, Pro Stock drag racer Jeg Coughlin Jr. is ready to trade in his 1,500-horsepower JEGS.com Chevrolet Cobalt for a gravity-driven JEGS.com bobsled at the fourth annual Whelen Geoff Bodine Bobsled Challenge, Jan. 2-4, in Lake Placid, N.Y.
The charity event created by NASCAR veteran Bodine raises money for the Bo-Dyn Bobsled Project, which designs and makes bobsleds exclusively for Team USA. Prior to Bodine's involvement, U.S. bobsledders were afterthoughts on the world stage, racing the castoff bobsleds from their European counterparts. Now they routinely win medals at the highest level of the sport, including the Olympic Games and World Bobsled Championships.
"It's very exciting to return to this event," Coughlin said. "I've thought about our return since last January and I'm thrilled that our family business, JEGS Mail Order, is now involved in helping fund the project. We're all very proud of our young American athletes and the bobsled team has certainly come a long way since Geoff started this deal back in the 1990s. They're gold medalists now and it's exciting to be a part of something where we're really making a difference."
A 54-time national event winner on the quarter-mile drag strip, Coughlin will be looking for his first win on historic Mount Van Hoevenberg, the site of the 1932 and 1980 Winter Olympic Games and eight different World Bobsled Championships (1949, 61, 69, 73, 78, 83, 2003.) Last year in his first event, Coughlin surprised everyone with a bronze medal finish.
"I'll be real honest, it was pretty frightening that first time down the course," Coughlin said. "I remember thinking, 'What in the heck am I doing here?' But by the end of the first day I just wanted to make more and more runs. It was a real kick.
"I was stunned to come in third place in the race. That was a surprise. I'll tell you, it looks like fun on TV but it's very challenging. You have to get a feel for the sled on the fly and it changes as you pick up speed. I realized after awhile that you don't want to over-drive the thing; you have to let it go and just kind of finesse it down the course."
Just as it was a year ago, the fourth annual Whelen Geoff Bodine Bobsled Challenge will pit a team of NASCAR drivers against a group of NHRA professionals, first against the clock and then against one another in a team format.
The NASCAR squad is led by Boris Said, the winner of every Bodine race including the first year when it wasn't even an established event. Said will be joined by rising NASCAR superstar Joey "Sliced Bread" Logano, Craftsman Truck champions Johnny Benson and Todd Bodine, Whelen champs Ted Christopher, Philip Morris, and Brian Loftin, Daytona Rolex racer Eric Curran, and 19-year-old sprint car racer Tom Tolbert.
Coughlin will once again team with Top Fuel drivers Morgan Lucas, J.R. Todd, and Bob Vandergriff Jr. The veteran of the group, Lucas already has two silver medals in his possession, while Todd returns for his third bobsled race. Coughlin and Vandergriff will be competing for the second time.
"Morgan got the ball rolling for the NHRA guys and Lucas Oil also is a sponsor of the project," Coughlin said. "I really feel fortunate to be the only Pro Stock guy in there. I'll tell you, we probably don't have the gift of memorizing race courses and turns as well as those NASCAR guys do, but on the other hand we're not intimidated by speed and we know how to coax a car down a track, so that should even it out a bit. Plus, all the NHRA guys have done this before and that's a plus, trust me. We'll be ready for them."
SPEED channel will televise four hours of the Whelen Geoff Bodine Bobsled Challenge at noon, Jan. 18, and at 2 p.m., Jan. 25. MRN Radio has signed on to provide live coverage of the Bodine Bobsled Challenge all three days.