The Dossier on Dad
THE COUGHLIN brothers might prefer “The Profile on Pop.” That’s what they call him. Troy Coughlin Jr. calls him “Pappy.” No matter his nickname, Jeg Coughlin Sr. has his family’s devoted attention and respect. Here are some of their insights about their father:
JOHN COUGHLIN said, “I always wanted to follow my dad. Right out of high school, that’s what I wanted to do. I wanted to come work for my dad. I’ve got a lot of respect for my dad. I think he’s probably one of the smartest guys I’ve ever known. He’s got more common sense than anybody I’ve ever met. And he can make the hardest problems seem so simple. Then you think to yourself, ‘Why didn’t I think of that?’ I’ve always enjoyed it. Our passion is racing, and our business is racing. They go hand in hand.”
TROY COUGHLIN remembered a lesson his dad taught him years ago when he raced in the Super Gas class. “The fastest this thing would go is 9.91, 9.92, 9.93. It just wouldn’t go any faster than that. I said, ‘Why keep a logbook on this thing? It doesn’t run fast enough to keep any notes.’ So I wadded it up and threw it in the trash can. I was lobbying for a faster engine for that car, and my dad said, ‘No. We’re not buying a bigger engine. You’re going to have to work with what you’ve got to make it go faster. Period. You have to.’ I didn’t understand it at first, but I respected what my dad was telling me and just tried to lose some weight and take weight off the car to where we could get it to go faster. Probably three or four years later, I built something I was going to run Super Comp in, but it would run 7.30s instead of 8.90. My dad would needle me: ‘Do you keep a logbook on this car?’ It was a good lesson learned: You just need to keep working on it, and it will go faster.” Troy also mused that Pop is “still to this day probably more tech savvy than I am. You’d be amazed. He’s 78 years old, but you’d think he’s in his mid-60s.”
MIKE COUGHLIN called his dad “a good leader and a good manager,” and said, “He’s got so much experience. He’s been there, and if he hasn’t been there, he knows somebody who has. He’s learned a lot over his life, and it’s definitely helped us out. He just turned 78. He’s still doing great. He’s always thinking, always has ideas. If we struggle with anything, we can talk to him, and within a relatively short period of time, he’s usually got an answer or a suggestion for something that works. I hope I can be that sharp for my kids. I know he has done a lot for me, and I’m just trying to carry it on with ours.”
JEG COUGHLIN JR. certainly inherited the philanthropic gene. He’s immersed in the JEGS Foundation and its focus on cancer research. He’s proud that “in 2005, we honored our father with a chair in cancer research with Dr. Maura Gillison at the Ohio State University’s James Cancer Hospital. Maura has great success in the lab and has received world-wide accolades.” She is a Professor of Internal Medicine at OSU’s College of Medicine and has logged extensive study and service at Duke University and The Johns Hopkins University with a list of awards as long as Coughlin Sr. has in his racing and business endeavors.
Not only is an endowed chair the highest academic award that a university can bestow on a faculty member, but it’s also an enduring tribute to the donor. It’s an enrichment for the academic environment, attracting the brightest faculty members and students. So it’s an especially meaningful gift the Coughlin brothers have given their father, for it accomplishes three purposes. This particular endowment signals Coughlin Sr.’s commitment to the community and beyond by combating— in Jeg Jr.’s words—“such a mass ailment as cancer that affects so many of our family, friends, fans and loved ones.” It allows scholars such as Dr. Gillison to offer students a chance to work in research labs, learning not only from textbooks, but from the processes of real-world discovery and innovation, something that reflects the way JEGS always has operated. Ultimately, the work done thanks to the Jeg Coughlin Chair of Cancer Research will be able to save lives.
Coughlin Jr. played a key role in a 2013 initiative from the JEGS Foundation to present The James Cancer Hospital a $10 million gift to name the lobby of the brand-new, 1-millionplus-square-foot hospital building after The JEGS Foundation. The new space, he said, makes “the new James one of, if not the most technologically advanced Comprehensive Cancer Centers in the world.”
To ensure their father contributes significantly to that speaks volumes about how much the four brothers value their father and his legacy far beyond their own business interests.