GAINESVILLE. Fla. (March 9) — Four years ago, world champion drag racer Troy Coughlin made the bold move to try a turbocharged powerplant in his Pro Mod entry. The results with the brand-new technology were mixed at best, as Coughlin and his crew mostly struggled to harness the massive amounts of horsepower the combination was producing.

Fast forward to 2011 and this weekend’s 42nd annual Tire Kingdom NHRA Gatornationals, the season-opening event of the Get Screened America Pro Mod Drag Racing Series, and Coughlin is back with a turbo power-adder, looking for much better results, including some victories and a potential run at the championship.

“The technology between now and then has improved so much,” said Coughlin, who abandoned his first foray into turbocharged racecars to chase the National Muscle Car Association title, which he won in 2009. “The parts are better and engines are holding together without damage for a lot longer.

“Everyone watched Brad Personett set every speed record in the world last year in his turbo car and I think that spoke volumes about what this combination can do. Now I look at the entry form and I see a bunch of turbo cars coming out. It’s exciting, and it’s just the sort of diversity the Pro Mod class needs.”

To help in his return to turbocharged horsepower, Coughlin hired PSCA Pro Street champion tuner Jake Hairston to run his operation. Additionally, until his own car is completed, Coughlin will be running the twin turbocharged 2008 Pontiac GTO Hairston family won the PSCA title with last year.

“Jake came on board in December and just fit right into the program,” Coughlin said. “He’s a good kid from a great family and he really knows his stuff, especially with turbo cars. Brian Metzenheim, Mike Rees, and Nick Gaylord also will be helping, so I think we have assembled one of the top teams in the sport.”

In order to prepare for another big year — Coughlin was the only Pro Mod racer to qualify for every event in 2010 — the team spent the weekend in Palm Beach testing various parts and pieces.

“This car went 6-flat at 245 mph last year on gasoline,” Coughlin said. “Now we’re running methanol through there so it’s making more power. It’s going to be fast. We’re just fine-tuning it now.

“In reflection, I kind of wish we had never stopped what we started in 2007. We’d be leading the way if we had stuck with it. Nevertheless, we’re back in a turbo car now and we’re ready to race.”

Qualifying begins Friday.


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