There aren’t many individuals who are true legends of drag racing, but Jeg Coughlin Sr. certainly has earned his place among the sport’s immortals.
Jeg Sr. 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 many levels.
Starting from humble roots, Jeg Sr. began his involvement in drag racing during his high school days in his native Ohio. His first race car was a 1936 Ford five-window coupe that doubled as a daily driver. In 1959, he competed in his first national event in a blown Chevrolet-powered 1955 two-door Chevy sedan in D/Gas, which he drove to the winner’s circle.
As his driving acumen progressed, Jeg Sr. became a dominant force in a variety of cars across many drag racing classes.
In 1960, in an effort to make his own race cars quicker, Jeg Sr. opened a small speed shop in downtown Columbus, naming it JEGS Automotive Inc. Now owned and operated by his four sons, JEGS High Performance has evolved into one of the top businesses of its kind. What started as Jeg Sr.’s own desire to make speed equipment available in the Midwest has grown into a facility employing more than 450 associates.
The transition to his boys — John, Troy, Mike and Jeg Jr. — came in the early 1990s and under their collective guidance the family business continues to be a worldwide force in the performance industry and the racing world as they eclipse 60 years in business.
As the shop grew, Jeg Sr. stayed busy on the race track. Through the years he has participated and found success 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.
Career highlights include four NHRA North Central Division championships, three in AA/Fuel Dragster (1977, 1978 and 1979) and one in Pro Comp in 1976, 30 NHRA divisional wins, including 11 consecutive victories in Top Alcohol Dragster, six in Pro Comp, four in AA/Fuel Dragster one in Super Eliminator, with the rest of his wins spread around the other classes in which he participated.
Jeg Sr.’s 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 Sr. was named the Ernst & Young master Entrepreneur of the Year in 2002.
Philanthropically, Jeg Sr. 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.