Three generations of racing Coughlins, from left: Troy, son T.J., and father Jeg Sr.
Troy Coughlin vividly remembers his first victory in NHRA Pro Mod exhibition racing. During the 2005 challenge series, he beat Zach Barklage in the NHRA SuperNationals final to claim the event trophy.
Coughlin said that the best thing about winning that race at historic Old Bridge Township Raceway Park was that on that particular weekend it was Father’s Day. Coughlin dedicated the win to his famous racing father, Jeg Coughlin Sr. It is something he had watched his three racing brothers do on previous patriarch holidays.
“That was pretty cool,” Coughlin said. “I was the last of my brothers to win a race for Dad on Father’s Day, so that is always one of the special races I will remember winning.”
As Coughlin returns to Raceway Park June 10-13 for the 41st annual NHRA SuperNationals, he will be focusing on winning his first official Wally trophy in the NHRA Get Screened America Pro Mod Drag Racing Series. Should he win the race, he’ll be able to give his father an early Father’s Day present as the traditional holiday falls one week later this year.
Coughlin is fifth in the points standings in his nitrous-powered JEGS.com ’68 Camaro. His best finish this season is a semifinal effort in Madison.
Coughlin and Jay Payne remain the only two drivers in the series who have qualified for all four events in the 10-race campaign. With an average of 26 cars at each event and only 16 starting positions, the competition to qualify for eliminations has been extremely cutthroat.
“This is the best of the best in Pro Mod racing,” Coughlin said. “It is unbelievable how this class has come together. Every driver out here has had success at drag racing’s highest levels. It’s incredible.”
After a distinguished career in NHRA Full Throttle Series Pro Stock racing, in which he won two national events in 13 final rounds and an all-star race, Coughlin was intrigued by the diverse engine combinations for the powerful doorslammer machines and made the transition to Pro Mod racing when NHRA introduced the division as an exhibition category. Like brothers John, Mike, and Jeg Jr., Troy has competed in the NHRA Lucas Oil Drag Racing Series, in which he earned a victory in Super Gas.
He said he feels good about his team’s chances of earning a victory in the historic inaugural season for Pro Mod in NHRA.
“We’re pretty close,” Coughlin said. “We need to minimize our mistakes. If I can do a good job driving, I believe a win is just around the corner for this team. We’ve got to dig deep and make it happen.”
He said that historic Raceway Park provides a great venue for the Pro Mod Series.
“The track surface is so smooth there, and depending on weather conditions, it is usually a really fast racetrack,” Coughlin said. “This event is coming at a nice time in the season for us, and it will be the halfway point of the schedule. It would be nice to get a win there and then focus on finishing the season strong.”
Featuring the world’s fastest and most unique doorslammer cars with an extremely diverse collection of vehicles, including ’63 Corvettes, ’68 Camaros, ’67 Mustangs, ’68 Firebirds as well as late-model cars, the Pro Mod Series offers something for every kind of hot-rodding enthusiast.
“The fans love to see these cars make five-second runs,” Coughlin said. “It’s great to see the fans get behind the class the way they have. It’s very exciting racing.”
Other pre-race favorites are series points leader Von Smith, who won in Madison, Houston winner Danny Rowe, Gainesville winner Kenny Lang, and veteran racers Payne and Melanie Troxel. Others to watch include Roger Burgess, Ray Commisso, Burton Auxier, Mike Knowles, and Ed Hoover. New Jersey native and veteran drag racer Pat Musi, from Carteret, will make his series debut in an '09 Dodge Stratus.
• SCHEDULE: Qualifying sessions are scheduled for 2:30 and 5:30 p.m. June 11 and 2 p.m. June 12. The first round of eliminations will be June 12 at 5 p.m. Eliminations will continue June 13 at approximately 2 p.m.
• TICKETS: Tickets are available for the NHRA SuperNationals. Call Raceway Park, 732-446-7800, or log on to www.racewaypark.com.
• ON TV: ESPN2 and ESPN2HD will televise 30 minutes of racing highlights from the Pro Mod portion of the NHRA SuperNationals Saturday, June 19, at 1:30 p.m. ET.