No Problem Raceway Park, Belle Rose, La. (March 21-23)
The JEGS NHRA Cajun SPORTSnationals at No Problem Raceway Park in Belle Rose, La., is one of three JEGS-sponsored events designed exclusively for racers in the NHRA Lucas Oil Drag Racing Series. The other races are the JEGS NHRA Northern SPORTSnationals in Columbus, Ohio (Sept. 19-21) and the JEGS Pacific SPORTSnationals at The Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway (Oct. 3-5). Collectively, these three events attract upwards of 1,200 unique competitors each season.
Last year, at the JEGS Cajun SPORTSnationals, Steve Szupka pulled off a rare double with wins in Comp and Stock Eliminator. The other champions from the ninth annual event were Anthony Bertozzi (Super Stock), Greg Brotherton (Super Comp), Ryan Herem (Super Gas), Ray Dew (Super Street), PJ Vicari (Top Dragster), Allen Firestone (Top Sportsman), and Mike Voss (Sportsman Motorcycle). In addition, Jody Simoneaux won the special Moser Sportsman Shootout race.
By far, the most successful racer in the ten-year history of the JEGS Cajun SPORTSnationals is Top Sportsman driver Keith Raftery who has three wins (2005, 2008, and 2010) and a runner-up finish (2007) to his credit.
Other drivers with multiple wins in Belle Rose include Anthony Bertozzi, who won the Top Dragster title in 2012 and the Super Stock class in 2013, T.J Tracey, who won the Top Sportsman title in 2012 and 2007 to go with a runner-up finish in 2008, Jeff Strickland, who won the Stock title in 2005 and the super Stock title in 2008, Sid Norwood, who claimed back-to-back Super Street wins in 2005 and 2006, Kevin Helms, who won Super Stock in 2006 and Stock in 2008, Craig Bourgeois, a back-to-back Comp champ in 2006-2007, Glen Self, also a back to back Comp champ in 2008-2009, and Brad Zaskowski, who won Super Stock in 2007 and 2009.
In addition to Szupka, the only other driver to double at the JEGS Cajun SPORTSnationals is Tommy Phillips who drove to both the Super Comp and Super Gas titles at the 2009 event.
The battle for the coveted JEGS Crown trophy will begin at this weekend’s event. The JEGS Crown is a handcrafted trophy that can only be won by winning two of the three JEGS SPORTSnationals events in a calendar year. The winners of the JEGS Cajun SPORTSnationals in Belle Rose, La., and the JEGS Pacific SPORTSnationals in Las Vegas, Nev., are in the running for the trophy this year.
Since its inception, the JEGS Crown has been awarded just once, to Pro Mod competitor Mike Ashley, who won the Pro Mod class in Belle Rose and Columbus in 2005.
The list of former NHRA national champions who are also former winners of the JEGS Cajun SPORTSnationals includes Jeg Coughlin Jr., David Tatum III, Steve Cohen, Scotty Richardson, Anthony Bertozzi, Jeff Hefler, Hugh Meeks III, Kevin Helms, and Larry Stewart.
The JEGS Cajun SPORTSnationals will also include a very special event, the Tim Hebert Hemi “Chootout”. The race is open to competitors in the popular SS/AH class and features a $12,000 purse with $7,000 to the champion. The race is being sponsored by Southland Dodge, Steve Kent Services, Paillot Bros. Construction, Engines, Inc., Henson Family Dealerships, 3001, and No Problem Raceway.
Tim Hebert was a longtime NHRA Division 4 racer who passed away suddenly at age 53 June 2, 2013 after participating in the NHRA Englishtown national event. His orange and white 1968 Barracuda has been seen at NHRA and Hemi Shootout events throughout the United States for decades and will be participating in the inaugural "Chootout" with his son Rory at the wheel.
The JEGS NHRA Cajun SPORTSnationals features a very busy schedule that includes the Moser Sportsman Shootout, Class Eliminations for racers in Stock and Super Stock, King of the Bayou Shootout races for drivers in Super Comp, Super Gas, and Super Street, the Hemi “Chootout”, and a CIC race for NHRA class-legal cars.
Prior to its revival in 2004, SPORTSnationals events were held from 1974 to 1986 at a trio of tracks; Beech Bend Raceway Park in Bowling Green, Ky., Houston Int’l Raceway, and Lucas Oil Raceway at Indianapolis.
The JEGS Mail Order team will be well represented by three entries in the JEGS Cajun SPORTSnationals. Mike Coughlin will make his season debut in the Top Sportsman class with his 200-mph Camaro and Troy Coughlin Jr.; will be racing in Super Comp and Super Gas.
JEGS By the Numbers
JEGS NHRA Cajun SPORTSnationals edition
1 – Driver to win the JEGS Crown trophy (Mike Ashley, 2005)
3 – Final rounds by the Coughlin family at the JEGS Cajun SPORTSnationals (2 wins, 1 runner-up).
9 – Drivers who have won both an NHRA national championship and the JEGS Cajun SPORTSnationals
11 – Years since the inaugural JEGS NHRA Cajun SPORTSnationals in 2004.
85 – Individual event champions crowned since the inaugural JEGS Cajun SPORTSnationals in 2004