Local performance parts businessman and former drag racer ‘humbled’ at being named Grand Marshal of the Holley NHRA National Hot Rod Reunion

COLUMBUS, Ohio – (Mar. 1, 2007)
Jeg Coughlin, a hometown hero and businessman who was named Grand Marshal of the Holley NHRA National Hot Rod Reunion, June 15-17 at National Trail Raceway near Columbus, Ohio, has done it all in his career…except be a Grand Marshal. “I’m not sure what to expect,” he admitted.

He’ll catch on…quickly. Coughlin has a long career as a racer, as well as a globally known supplier of speed parts. He began racing in A Gas in a ’48 “Dragster by Austin” powered by a 392 cid Chrysler Hemi in 1967. Coughlin worked his way up through the ranks to Top Fuel, where he was Division III champion in 1977, 1978 and 1980. Along the way, he had 11 major wins in Top Fuel and Pro Comp. Jeg’s Mail Order began in 1960 as Jeg’s Automotive in downtown Columbus. It has grown into a giant with annual sales of $200 million. He is a member of the Hot Rod magazine Hall of Fame and received the Car Craft “Ollie Award” for lifetime achievement, among other honors. He now mentors his sons, who run the business and race in the NHRA POWERade Drag Racing Series. And, of course, is practicing his Grand Marshal duties as well.

1. How does it feel to be named Grand Marshal for the 5th annual NHRA National Hot Rod Reunion? What does the Reunion mean to you?
Jeg Coughlin: It’s exciting to be named Grand Marshall but I must admit that since I have never been in this position before, I’m not quite sure what all my responsibilities are. If my duties include saying “Hi” to old friends, swapping stories about the good old days and just plain having fun, then I think I can handle that. If it requires riding in the back of a convertible then I think the fans would rather see Linda Vaughn because she is still a lot better looking than me. For me this Reunion will touch a very warm spot in my heart. When we are young we don’t realize how time will pass so quickly and events like this give us all the chance to “catch-up.”

2. In your wildest dreams, did you think after you retired, people would honor your racing exploits decades later?
Jeg Coughlin: Never in my wildest dreams did I think I would be remembered for my racing career. When you start this journey through adulthood you focus on providing for your family and making sure you do the best as a parent. Drag racing allowed me to include my family in something I loved and I never looked at my racing as being just about me. To be remembered this way is both overwhelming and humbling.

3. What are some of your fondest and funniest memories about the good old days?
Jeg Coughlin: My fondest memories are of my boys growing up at the races. Former division-3 director Bob Daniels used to laugh when we rolled in because as he put it, “when you opened the trailer you never knew what was going to roll out.” And he was not talking about race cars. There would be bikes, scooters, dogs and everything else short of thoroughbred racehorses. Probably my funniest memory would be of my old Austin AA/GS. Nothing, and I mean nothing, ever went right with that car. It was always all over the track and it was handful even before it left the line. In fact, one year at the U.S. Nationals we managed to set the squirt can on fire while trying to start the darn thing.

4. Why do people enjoy the Hot Rod Reunions and vintage drag racing? Is it good for your business?
Jeg Coughlin: I truly feel people enjoy these Reunions because it allows us to relive our youth. You discover as you get older that you do lose a lot of things along the way but no one can take away your memories. The Reunion brings us together for our common bond of drag racing. We can sit, talk and share those special moments. And while I feel the Reunion is not about business, I will simply answer your question by saying anything that pertains to the sport of drag racing is good for Jegs.com.

5. What are some of the biggest differences between drag racing today and when you raced? Are today’s drivers as good as or better than ones from the 1960s and ’70s?
Jeg Coughlin: The biggest difference in the sport today is television. The increased exposure has brought more fans, more sponsors, and in the end, more dollars. The area I am most proud of is the evolution of safety for the drivers. What also makes me feel good is that everyone from the NHRA, to the tracks, to the race teams, all say the same thing and that is we can still do more to make it even safer. Now regarding the drivers of my era compared to today, I must say I believe that on the track we are all the same. The difference is today’s driver has more outside responsibilities. We worried about one thing, winning. Today’s driver has sponsor commitments, media interviews, blogs, personal appearances and oh yeah, drive the car, too.

The 5th annual Holley NHRA National Hot Rod Reunion, June 15-17 at National Trail Raceway near Columbus, Ohio, is a 3-day festival of speed, hot rods and American automotive enthusiasm. Produced by and benefiting the Wally Parks NHRA Motorsports Museum, presented by the Automobile Club of Southern California, the Reunion is part of the museum’s “living history” philosophy, which works to bring to life the sights, sounds and people who made history in the early days of drag racing, land speed racing and the golden age of American car culture.


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