- Bill Stephens
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As Jeg Coughlin Jr. makes another spectacular run in the 2005 Mopar Hemi Challenge as part of the 51st Mac Tools U.S. Nationals at Indianapolis Raceway Park -- the special event that he won last year in a vintage Hemi-powered Barracuda he never had driven before -- the two-time NHRA Pro Stock champion continues to perpetuate the incredible racing heritage his family began forging 50 years ago.
His father, Jeg Sr., was a respected drag racer in a number of categories five decades ago as he was beginning to assemble the components of what has become one of the world's most successful automotive aftermarket retailers: Jeg's High Performance Mail Order based in Columbus, Ohio. Jeg Sr. raced in both Top Fuel and Pro Stock, as well as several sportsman classes and his four sons, John, Mike, Troy, and Jeg Jr., have each followed in his footsteps, creating one of the most versatile collective racing resumes in the sport's history.
The number of race cars, classes, events, and drag racing series that the four brothers have and continue to compete in is nothing short of remarkable.
Along with his two Pro Stock titles, Jeg was the 1992 NHRA Super Gas world champion, and his driving prowess was even further established in 1997 when he won national events in four different classes -- a feat that will very likely never be equaled -- before moving to Pro Stock fulltime in 1998, where he won in his second professional start.
John and Mike were both national event winners in the Pro Stock Truck class before that class was withdrawn in 2002. Mike was the PST event champion at the U.S. Nationals in 1999 while both brothers have continued to be consistent power hitters in the Super Stock and Super Comp categories.
Troy's drag racing career has encompassed both sportsman and professional classes as well. He enjoyed an impressive run in Pro Stock until the end of the 2004 season, deciding to take on a racing schedule that would allow him to spend more time with his family. But in an ironic twist, Troy is now competing in two major racing series, the NHRA AMS Pro Modified circuit and now the National Muscle Car Association's Denso Pro Street series.
When asked if he has fallen back into a racing schedule that will only slightly increase his time at home, Troy's answer is reflective of the Coughlin family philosophy that has led to their amazing influence in drag racing.
"Racing is what this family has always done," says Troy. "After leaving Pro Stock last year, it wasn't long before I was really feeling as if something was definitely missing in my life. My wife and my kids know what the sport has meant to all the Coughlins and they're a part of everything I'm doing out there. Once it gets into your blood, it becomes a part of who you are, especially in this family."
Racing and winning are two traditions which have been an important part of the Coughlin family for a long time. And with a new generation of racing Coughlins waiting in the wings, they are traditions which will probably be alive and well for many more years to come.
Bill Stephens covers NHRA for ESPN.com.
Jeg Coughlin Jr.'s spectacular run this season is just the latest in a half-century of drag racing excellence for the Coughlin family.