The Dossier on Dad

Drag Racer - - Up­date Quar­ter-mile -

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.

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