No rest for the champ, but he wouldn't want it any other way
DELAWARE, Ohio (Dec. 16) -- Streaking down the toughest bobsled course in the world, pulling 9.3 Gs with the U.S. Thunderbirds, touring one the most secure military installations in the world, gracing gaming chips in Las Vegas, running one of the largest mail order companies in North America -- it's all in a day's work for champion drag racer Jeg Coughlin Jr.
Competing in 24 NHRA national events and winning the POWERade title will define Coughlin's 2008 season but it hardly describes the daunting schedule one of the sport's most popular figures kept over the past 12 months.
Coughlin's whirlwind year started in snowy Lake Placid where he helped NASCAR legend Geoff Bodine raise some much-needed funds for Team USA Bobsledding. Not surprisingly, Coughlin proved quite adept at handling a 400-pound competition bobsled himself, finishing third overall against a group of select NASCAR and NHRA racers despite the fact he'd never piloted a bobsled prior to the three-day charity event.
A few weeks later at the annual Pro Stock Showdown test session in Las Vegas, Coughlin once again got up to speed in a hurry, winning the preseason event to set the tone for the year.
As the official NHRA season began, Coughlin used the first two races to introduce some very special guests to quarter-mile competition, hosting world renowned skateboarder Nick Dompierre in Pomona and award-winning rock group O.A.R. in Phoenix.
Back in Las Vegas for the spring race, Coughlin starred at the "Champion's Night" celebration at the Palms Hotel and Casino where officials honored him with $5 and $25 gaming chips adorned with his likeness and a photo of his JEGS.com Chevrolet Cobalt that were put into circulation on the tables. Over the weekend, he experienced another first when he took the wheel of a Thunder Roadster at the infamous Bull Ring at Las Vegas Motor Speedway in yet another fund-raising event.
His enjoyment of all things related to racing carried into May, first when he joined several top executives of the Coca-Cola Company at the Coca-Cola 600 NASCAR event in Charlotte, N.C. He then slipped behind the wheel of another style of hot rod -- a Late Model Stock Car -- and competed in a celebrity charity race at Bristol Motor Speedway.
Expanding on his racing exploits, Coughlin managed to steal away for a night and cheer on JEGS racer Kenny Wallace when he raced at Tony Stewart's hugely popular Prelude to a Dream short-track charity event in Eldora, Ind., against most of NASCAR's top stars.
Moving into the summer months, Coughlin saluted the 50th anniversary of the North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD) in Colorado Springs, Colo., by donating a special edition helmet he wore during the Denver race to the men and women who serve there. Coughlin was then invited for a private tour of the facility by NORAD's Deputy Commander, Lieutenant General Charlie Bouchard of the Canadian Armed Forces, who is the highest ranking Canadian Officer on U.S. soil. The visit allowed Coughlin to meet hundreds of members of the U.S. and Canadian military.
Donning his promotional hat, Coughlin then jetted back to Charlotte to help POWERade and the NHRA introduce drag racing to the millions of fans in the heart of NASCAR country. He used the pre-race visit to teach a few NASCAR stars how to drive a Pro Stock car, which was a huge hit with his stock car counterparts and the media.
That same week, Coughlin slowed down from 1,300 horsepower to one when he helped hometown officials in his native Delaware, Ohio, kick off the 63rd annual Little Brown Jug harness race, the largest event of its kind in the world. He even had a horse to cheer for, one with a decidedly drag racing-themed name, when he got to meet prerace favorite Badlands Nitro and his owners and handlers.
But perhaps the highlight of Coughlin's year, at least away from the drag strip, was a late October ride in an F-16 fighter jet with Major Tony Mulhare of the world-renowned United States Thunderbirds Air Demonstration Squadron.
Through it all, Coughlin squeezed in plenty of long work days alongside his three brothers as they collective guided JEGS High Performance Parts to its most successful year ever. Noted as a tireless worker who often arrives first and leaves last, Coughlin puts as much into the family business as he does racing and representing NHRA drag racing in champion form, no matter what the activity might be.
-credit: team jegs