Fast Take by FYI WIRZ By Dwight Drum
Web work by Larsen & Drum Images by Gary Larsen
FYI WIRZ: Behind NASCAR and NHRA Ropes, View 2 at JEGS
Getting really close to a NASCAR or NHRA team at work, obtaining a behind the scenes experience, is not easy even if you have connections. Getting there three times for a behind the scenes series is even tougher.
Getting close to NHRA drivers and teams in the pits is more possible because every ticket is a pit pass. In the NHRA pits, fans lean up against the ropes or tape barriers to watch crews work on cars and engines during runs down the drag strip, but they are not permitted beyond the ropes unless invited.
Racetake.com invited Facebook.com friend Jayson Huggins, Financial Analyst for NASCAR, to accompany them beyond the ropes during the Tire Kingdom NHRA Gatornationals in Gainesville, Florida. Huggins lives in Daytona Beach, Fla., where he works at the NASCAR headquarters, International Motorsports Center, across from Daytona International Speedway.
The second behind the ropes experience for Huggins came with a visit to Sportsman pits where Team JEGS driver Troy Coughlin Jr.’s awaits his fast moments down the quarter mile track. T.J., as he is known, invited all inside his hauler for interview moments.
T.J. was quick to explain the thrill of drag racing.
“I’ve been a fan my whole life,” Coughlin said. “To be out here with the opportunity that I have with the company that we are with, to be a family; It’s a thrill to be out here every day, win or lose. It’s a thrill. It’s a life.”
T.J. understands his role as a promoter of the JEGS.com high performance parts business that supports his racing.
“It’s almost too good to be true,” Coghlin said. “It’s kind of a dream. To advertise and to be able to sell parts and have fun in the same way, it almost doesn’t seem like it’s real. It is and it’s great.
“We have a lot of great customers out here in the stands. We talk to them and take concerns, questions on problems in business, if there is something we need to improve, we take that very seriously. So it’s actually very good to be at these races.”
T.J. also explained what is like taking that first big blast in his Super Comp dragster.
“It took off and it’s going slow, slow, slow and then it kicked back and it was like your breathing changed,” Coughlin said. “It was like being in a roller coaster, you know that feeling when it’s a little harder to breath. Then you slow down and it’s like wow, I just did that. But that’s only the first pass, the rest of them it’s like driving a street car again. You get used to it.”
Jayson Huggins commented on his pit visit with Troy Coughlin Jr.
“TJ was very impressive, for his age, the understanding of racing and how it integrates with the family business, and what his goals were for the future,” Huggins said. “Good things later on in life, very impressive at that age.”
The next stop was the Pro Mod Car pit area of father Troy Coughlin Sr. where Huggins got the opportunity to ask the first question.
“The family business, how do you balance the promotion and concentrate on the racing,” Huggins said. “How do you do both at the same time?”
“Business and the racing go hand-in-hand because we are sponsored by JEGS.com and a lot of pieces and parts that we sell; some of them are on these race cars which helps us promote it also,” Coughlin said. “Concentrating between the two, I think going racing is a good out to get away from work and then vice-versa. We got a lot of good people back at JEGS.com to keep the ball rolling.”
Huggins specialty at NASCAR is financial analysis so his experience in the JEGS camp was amplified by their multi-tasking world. Coughlin explained their philosophy.
“Our word in business is yes,” Coughlin said. “We don’t know how to say no on our customer service side of the business. One of my dad’s philosophies in business has always been yes. When it comes to a customer asking our sales people questions, the answer is yes. We’re going to take back the broken part. We’ll come get it and everything to make it easier for you.”
Coughlin explained how his turbocharged Pro Mod Car is really part monster.
“When you’re sitting there idling and you floor it, it doesn’t have a whole lot of power until the turbocharger makes a boost because that’s the power of it,” Coughlin said. “It’s about a second to get it there. When you are within four to six inches of the first stage light, you gotta be ready.”
Jayson Huggins came away from the Team JEGS Sportsman area with answers he wasn’t expecting.
“Extremely friendly,” Huggins said. “When you think of a company, you don’t expect them to take all that time to talk to you and explain to you about the races and how they do it. It was very interesting how they balance it between the racing and also running the business at the same time.”
The third stop for Jayson Huggins was the Top Fuel pit area of Don Schumacher Racing. That experience is coming soon.
FYI WIRZ is the swift presentation of pertinent motorsports topics by Dwight Drum @ Racetake.com.
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