Drag Illustrated Issue 168, May 2021 - Page 85

PAIGE COUGHLIN LEARNING THE ROPES BY NATE VAN WAGNEN /// PHOTOGRAPH BY RICK BELDEN

WOMEN

OF POWER 2021

PAIGE COUGHLIN LEARNING THE ROPES BY NATE VAN WAGNEN /// PHOTOGRAPH BY RICK BELDEN

In drag racing , there are few families with a history as rich as the Coughlin family . From Jeg Coughlin Sr ., who launched JEGS High Performance as a small speed shop in 1960 , to the four Coughlin brothers , and now Jeg Sr .’ s grandchildren , the central Ohio family has been putting the JEGS yellow and black colors in the winner ’ s circle for three generations . Paige Coughlin , one of Troy Coughlin Sr .’ s three daughters , is determined to leave her own mark on the family legacy .
Between her studies at Miami University of Ohio , Coughlin drives one of the family ’ s JEGS . com dragsters in Super Comp and bracket races ranging from local events to big-money bracket races . She also works at JEGS in the accounting department , where she ’ s learned the ropes of the family business since she was a senior in high school .
Spending so much time with the employees at JEGS is a part of Coughlin ’ s inspiration to perform at a high level on the racetrack .
“ I do feel this pressure to do the best that I can , but that ’ s because I represent something larger than myself ,” Coughlin explains . “ I represent JEGS . com and every one of those associates working there . It ’ s a proud pressure ; I am proud to represent these people that make this race car go fast , that make this racing operation even possible .”
Coughlin is focused on learning as much as she can in Super Comp , her first step up after racing Jr . Dragsters in her early teens . She ’ s had a proven mentor in her older brother , Troy Coughlin Jr ., who has multiple NHRA national event wins in the “ Super ” classes , including two at the prestigious U . S . Nationals . Paige shadowed TJ for a year when she was preparing to move up to Super Comp , paying attention to all the details .
“ Honestly , his ability to adapt and his dedication to learn how to operate these cars effectively and safely is amazing to me ,” says Coughlin , whose Super Comp accomplishments include earning a spot to compete in the 2020 JEGS Allstars specialty race . “ No matter what race car he is put in , he is able to fully focus and do the best job that he possibly can . And it ’ s truly amazing to see him go through all these different classes .”
On top of Super Comp and Super Gas , TJ has competed in NHRA Pro Mod , Top Fuel , Top Alcohol Dragster , and now Pro Stock . Paige learned something new from each class and even got to warm up the JEGS . com Pro Stock Camaro at the recent Four-Wide Nationals in Charlotte . It might seem like a preview of her next step , but she ’ s more interested in following in her dad ’ s footsteps in Pro Mod .
“ My ultimate goal is to be just like my dad and drive Pro Modified ,” Coughlin says . “ If a Pro Stock seat opened up , no hesitation , I would take it for sure . But my lifetime goal is to become a Pro Modified driver . I ’ ve always looked up to my dad and his ability to drive , and that ’ s what I want to be someday .”
Coughlin is in no rush to move up to Pro Mod , though . She ’ ll spend the rest of the season racing in NHRA Division 3 Super Comp and various bracket races with her cousins , Makenna Brown , Jack Coughlin and Clay Coughlin . It ’ s all a part of the learning process to ensure that when the time comes to jump into a Pro Mod car , she ’ ll be ready .
“ It ’ s been really exciting to see all my family members excel in their areas of racing ,” says Coughlin , who will join the Drag Illustrated team as a summer intern going into her final year as a strategic communication major . “ It makes me really excited to be able to carry on that legacy , as we call it the Coughlin legacy , in the sport of drag racing . I ’ m looking forward to filling those shoes and just taking in all the knowledge and experience that I can get .” DI
May 2021 DragIllustrated . com | Drag Illustrated | 85