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Words and photos by Ian Tocher
MARCH 8, 2005

hen 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 be next?  

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.


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