They say racing is in your blood. For the Coughlin family that couldn’t be more true. A line of drag racing winners in the NHRA, led by the family patriarch, Jeg Sr., made them famous. Now the father-and-son team of John and Cody Coughlin are taking a new path to continue the success in racing for the Coughlin family.
John Coughlin is a five-time NHRA National event winning drag racer who has put his racing career in the back seat to focus on his role as the co-owner of JEGS and to help his children (Cody and Kennedi) succeed at their chosen paths.
“Cody was a perfectionist when he used to go racing with me,” said John of his only son. “He always wanted to dress real nice and keep things neat and clean. I have pictures of him with his khaki pants on with nice shoes, with big curly hair and a JEGS shirt on standing right beside me right before I was going out for a run. He was always cleaning the car and we really enjoyed that time at the track.”
The Coughlins still enjoy their time at the track as a family, but instead of John racing, it’s now Cody behind the wheel. Yet, he is breaking from the Coughlin tradition of straight-line racing. Cody has blazed his own trail of climbing the ladder in the circle track ranks.
The now 19 year-old has been a winner in Quarter Midgets, a champion in Pro Late Models (2013 CRA / JEGS All Stars Tour title) and a victor in the tough Super Late Model wars at the famed Winchester Speedway in Indiana.
“That Winchester win was a cool day for the whole family. We always expect to win, but dad was really happy in victory lane. He’s always really loved that place and I know it was really special for him,” said Cody. “I remember going as a family to the drag strip as a kid and having big dinners the night before the race. Those were some of my favorite memories, and of course, finishing the weekend in (drag racing) victory lane with my dad.”
Now Cody is knocking on the door for victory lane in the ARCA Racing Series. He already has two pole awards and a second place finish to his credit and he attributes some of that success to the lessons his father has taught him.
“He’s helped me a ton with the mental side of the sport; how to stay focused. He may have done a different type of racing, but the mental part of the competition is still the same,” remarked Cody, who will be making his NASCAR Camping World Truck Series debut in July at Kentucky Motor Speedway.
“He’s always believed in me and that has meant the world to me. He and my mom have made all of this possible and that’s special for me to know how much they care about my passion.”
John has experienced the exhilaration of racing, such as when he captured the 2009 NHRA North Central Division Top Dragster Championship, but the emotion of watching his son race on the super-speedways of America is a whole different emotional rollercoaster.
“I really get a kick out of watching him race, but it’s a lot more nerve-racking watching him race than it was for me actually racing,” admitted John. “He’s my son; I want him to do so well, but it’s out of my hands and in his. That’s neat, but boy there are there anxious moments. He’s a good, talented kid and I’m so proud of him. As a dad the high’s are a lot higher than when I was driving.
“Cody has always wanted to succeed. When I won Pro Stock Truck at Columbus (OH), the Spring Nationals, he was standing on the back of the truck holding the trophy. Even at five years-old he always enjoyed holding the trophy and that hasn’t changed to this day.”
Together, Cody and his father John, are taking their dreams of racing from the highest levels of the NHRA, right up to the top tiers of NASCAR.
By Bob Dillner - Executive Editor, Speed51.com, Twitter: @bobdillner