In addition to their mutual passion for drag racing, members of the Coughlin family all share a great love for their home state of Ohio. This intense pride for all things Buckeye place a premium on this weekend’s NHRA national event at one of the most beloved racetracks in professional motorsports.
“It’s Norwalk weekend, so if you’re from Ohio this is the one you want to win the most,” said Troy Coughlin Jr., driver of the JEGS.com Elite Motorsports Chevrolet Camaro. “It’s all about Buckeye pride and representing the best state in the country.”
Troy Jr. will be trying his best to bag one of three Wally trophies Team JEGS can take home when Pro Stock roars to life Friday with two rounds of professional qualifying. His uncle Mike Coughlin and sister Paige Coughlin also will be in action, pursuing their own respective victories in Top Dragster and Super Comp.
“Our family has done well at this track in the past and we really want to keep that going this weekend,” Troy Jr. said. “I actually won the last time I raced here (in 2019) when I was in Top Alcohol Dragster. My dad (Troy Coughlin Sr.) won Pro Mod here in 2014 and that same race my uncle Mike won in Top Sportsman. Aunt Samantha (Coughlin) also won Super Comp here in 2009. We need to keep those wins coming.
“Uncle Mike gets on a roll in that dragster and he’s just plain nasty, and Paige is so close to a win I don’t think anyone would be surprised if she got it done here. I’m definitely pulling for them both, and we have a great chance as well. The guys never stop working on this Pro Stock car, which is what it takes to be competitive in this cutthroat class.”
To that end, Troy Jr. and his team are conducting a pre-race test session at Dragway 42 in West Salem, Ohio, to try out a few things with the clutch system.
Mike is returning to Top Dragster action for the first time since mid-March when he raced back-to-back events in in Florida. Like Paige, he plans to race this weekend’s national event and next weekend’s Division 3 meet at this facility.
“We’ve had an interesting schedule going back into last season that’s resulted in some longer stretches away from the track but Greg Cody, Tony Collier, Justin Beaver and Ryan Micke always have this dragster so dialed in it hasn’t really been an issue,” Mike said. “I certainly don’t lose any of my drive for doing what we do when we have more time off, in fact, I’m more inspired than ever to get back to racing.
“There’s not much to report as far as the car itself. It’s been perfect and we haven’t felt the need to change anything. Basically, we’re just performing general maintenance when necessary. It’s been a dream scenario.”
Although he hasn’t been racing himself for a few months, he’s remained very involved in the sport through the development of his son’s Jack and Clay, who are both diving into sportsman-level racing this year.
“Jack had his first big-car race this past weekend at Kil-kare Raceway and made it to the third round in his dragster, which I thought was a heckuva deal,” Mike said. “It was a pretty cool Father’s Day present for me, and he really enjoyed racing alongside his cousins Paige and Makenna (Brown).
“Clay is scheduled to earn his Super Stock license at the end of this race so we asked Jeff Taylor to make a few more passes in his hot rod this weekend to make sure it’s ready to go. I’ll tell ya, it’s just as exciting to watch your kids race as it is to race yourself. It’s a different kind of excitement but equally as cool.”
As her uncle Mike alluded to, Paige has been getting lots of seat time on the bracket racing circuit since starting her summer break from Miami University of Ohio, where she is a senior. Her crew chief Justin Beaver, along with Tony Collier, changed some things over the winter months and wanted to make sure everything was spot-on with her dragster.
“Justin and Tony put in some incredible work to give me the chance to run as best as I can,” Paige said. “I wouldn’t be anywhere without them. We ran Ohio Valley a few weeks back with T.J (Troy Jr.) and Makenna and got down to the final 15 drivers in the $50,000 main event and last weekend at Kil-kare we also got down to the final 15 cars again in the $10,000 race, so everyone is really pleased with the car now.
“We had some curves thrown at us last year and we really wanted to get the car back to where it was before COVID when we finished runner-up in D3. Back then the car responded to everything we asked of it and now we feel like we’re back in that same groove. I’m just so appreciative of this opportunity, especially these next two weekends here in Ohio.”
With several family members enjoying birthdays around this time of the year, Paige says the Norwalk race has always been a special weekend for her extended family. Now she’s a racer herself, Paige as a unique desire to offer some special help at all the upcoming birthday celebrations — ice cream server.
“I’m just dying to get one of those ice cream scoop trophies,” Paige said of the unique prize given to winners of this specific race. “I told my dad the other day that I can’t stop thinking about winning a scoop. It’s very Ohio. I love it.”