There aren’t many individuals who are true legends of drag racing, but Jeg Coughlin Sr. certainly has earned a place among the sport’s immortals.
Coughlin is the patriarch of one of drag racing’s leading families, the founder of one of the largest and most successful mail order speed equipment businesses in the world and a long-time supporter of the sport on its many levels.
Starting from humble roots, Coughlin began his involvement in the sport during his high school days in Ohio. His first race car was a 1936 Ford five-window couple that also doubled as a daily driver. In 1959, he drove a blown Chevrolet-powered 1955 two-door Chevy sedan in D/Gas, marking his first national event. Fittingly, Coughlin won the race.
His driving prowess progressed, and Jeg went on to become a dominant force in a variety of cars across many drag racing classes.
At the same time, JEGS Automotive Inc. opened its doors in 1960 in Columbus, Ohio, and JEGS High Performance evolved into one of the top businesses of its kind in the world over the last 60 years. What started as Coughlin’s own desire to have speed equipment available in the Midwest has grown into a facility employing more than 400 associates.
Nearly three decades after Jeg’s original speed shop was opened, he helped his four sons, John, Troy, Mike and Jeg Jr., purchase the operation, and under their collective guidance the family business continues to be a dominant force within the performance industry and the racing world.
While building his business, Jeg Sr. also was busy on the race track. Over the years he has participated in Top Fuel, Top Alcohol Dragster and Funny Car, Pro Stock, A/Gas Supercharged C/S, D/Gas Supercharged C/S, C Stock, C Gas, Modified Eliminator, Pro Comp and Super Eliminator – and he was successful in all. Jeg Sr. won four NHRA North Central Division championships, three in AA/Fuel Dragster (1977, 1978 and 1979) and one in Pro Comp in 1976.
He also accumulated a total of 30 NHRA divisional wins that includes 11 consecutive victories in Top Alcohol Dragster, six in Pro Comp, four in AA/Fuel Dragster one in Super Eliminator, with the rest spread out over the various remaining classes in which he participated.
His on-track prowess and business success helped land him in the Hot Rod Magazine Hall of Fame, the NHRA North Central Division Hall of Fame, and the Olentangy Business Hall of Fame in Powell, Ohio. In 2002, he received Car Craft Magazine’s highest honor, the Ollie Award.
On top of all of these awards, Jeg was named the Ernst & Young master Entrepreneur of the Year in 2002.
Philanthropically, Jeg and his family created the privately funded JEGS Foundation for Cancer Research and the “Racing for Research” program, which has raised several million dollars for cancer research since its inception.