and photos by Ian Tocher
Troy Coughlin announced last October that he was leaving
NHRA Pro Stock action to join Mike Ashley’s Gotham
City Racing Pro Mod team, the drag racing world took notice.
Though somewhat overshadowed by his younger brother Jeg Jr.,
a two-time NHRA Pro Stock world champion who also left the
family team this season to drive for uber-owner Don Schumacher,
Coughlin nevertheless was a series fixture. He enjoyed
a satisfying 11-year career in the class, winning three times
(including the All-Star race at Bristol in 2000) and finishing
as high as sixth in the points (twice).
So, trading his family-owned ride for a stint as teammate
to current NHRA AMS Pro Mod champion Ashley was seen not
only as a bold career move, but one that conveyed a certain
amount of added legitimacy to the burgeoning NHRA Pro Mod
series. Pundits asked, if a member of one of drag racing’s
most influential families is interested in Pro Mod, who might
DRO caught up with Coughlin at Hub City Dragway in Hattiesburg,
MS, where he made his competition debut Feb. 26, driving
a blown 1967 Mustang in the ADRL season opener.
What made you decide to enter the Pro Mod arena?
Coughlin: Pro Stock has been a lot of fun, we’ve had
some great success with it with Team Jeg’s, but making
the move to Pro Mod is something I’ve wanted to do
for quite some time. I’ve always wanted to race it;
I’ve always wanted to go faster than 204 miles an hour.
Jeez, I think in my first full pass last year I ran something
like 226 miles an hour and I was like, ‘Wow!’ It
was just so smooth, almost effortless it seemed. Mike Ashley
and Chuck Ford and all the guys on the Gotham City team put
a great racecar together.
How different is it from driving a Pro Stock car?
Coughlin: It’s a lot different. One, you’ve
got to let the clutch out and smack the gas at the same time,
where with a Pro Stock car you smack the gas and then when
the light comes on you let the clutch out. This car, when
you let the clutch out it takes off just as hard as a Pro
Stock does, then milliseconds later you’re thrown back
in the seat and you don’t come out of it until you
cross the finish line. It’s just an awesome ride.
Is it a more violent ride?
Coughlin: Oh yeah, if you’re not careful and not on
your toes it can switch lanes on you in a heartbeat. It’s
a heavier car, it’s got a helluva’ lot more horsepower,
and it’s got a bigger tire. It seems like it would
be more locked to the racetrack, and like I said, when it’s
on it’s so smooth, but in a split second this thing
could make a hard turn if it starts spinning the tires or
shaking. I always heard the Pro Stock guys saying, “I
had bad tire shake,” or “It shook real hard that
round,” but if they ever felt tire shake in one of
these things they wouldn’t even call that tire shake
anymore. Man, you get this big car with big tires going and
it’ll just rattle your eyeballs.