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FYI WIRZ Fast Take   By Dwight Drum
Web work by Larsen & Drum    Images by Drum

Austin and Ty Dillon talk to media
Not All NASCAR and NHRA Grandsons Get Free Rides to the Top

It’s often said by those who understand sportsman stock car racing—the many local short tracks across the U.S.—that among the 100,000 plus drivers racing, there have to be at least a thousand that could take one of the 43 top seats in NASCAR with ease.

They got talent, they just don’t have resources.

That’s likely true, but many racers who never rise above their local tracks may need more than just money.

Resources have many forms. Money is the first concern. Funds buy equipment and good machinery wins races.

Winning is essential to get noticed, but even if noticed, a driver’s appearance and demeanor have to be appropriate.

Sponsors want talent behind the wheel and charisma in front of cameras.

Second and third generations in motorsports are common. That can be said of other sports as well, but like life and all sports—the role of genetics can be complex.

Two motorsports icons, grandfathers Richard Childress and Jeg Coughlin Sr., have much to be proud of from the conduct of their productive offspring.

Legendary Richard Childress began his NASCAR organization in 1969 and has had at least one car in every Sprint Cup race since 1972.

RCR has netted 12 championships and more than 200 victories while becoming the first racing team to win titles in all three of NASCAR’s top series.

NHRA icon Jeg Coughlin Sr. has been an avid drag racer since high school and began his performance-parts business ventures in 1960 from a small speed shop.

With the help of his four sons, all drag racers, JEGS Mail Order has grown to a worldwide organization housed in a 250,000-square-foot warehouse operated by 350-plus employees.

Cody Coughlin and his No. 1 Late Model car

The focus here is not so much the icons, but their grandchildren.

Far too many sons, daughters, grandsons and granddaughters from wealthy and celebrity families let their behavior go astray.

Mainstream media is eager to share their frequent failings. The public sometimes revels in their self-imposed misfortune.

It’s sad that resources can sometimes be a problem.

Not so with the Dillon brothers or the Coughlin cousins.

Austin and Ty Dillon owe their professional rides to their grandfather Richard Childress.

Cody Coughlin and Troy Coughlin Jr. owe their expensive Late Model and Sportsman dragster programs to the entrepreneurship of Jeg Coughlin Sr.

All four are respectful and thankful descendants of two very successful grandfathers.

Austin Dillon's champion No. 3 truck

Their comments show that all four listen.

Austin Dillon, the 2011 NASCAR Camping World Truck Series champion, has moved up to the NASCAR Nationwide Series. He learned early. He turns just 22 this month.

“My grandfather always stressed if we get to the track next week with a clean car we’ll have faster equipment each and every week,” Dillon said.

Ty Dillon, 2011 ARCA Racing Series presented by Menards Champion, has moved up to the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series at the eager age of 20.

“I'm really blessed to have the opportunities that I do, being able to race a car for my grandfather, which is great equipment,” Dillon said. “He's got so much experience in this sport and what all goes on and how to handle yourself in certain situations.”

Cody Coughlin with mom, Di.     Parents John and Di Coughlin watch racing from the top of the JEGS hauler

Cody Coughlin and Troy Coughlin Jr. partly earn their keep by carrying the JEGS banner to crowds that often contain customers.

Young Cody is just 16 years old, but has learned much in his quest to be the first Coughlin to go stock car racing and maybe take the JEGS branding to the top in NASCAR. Numerous family members support his drive.

“I'm so blessed to be able to do this and to have my family here to support me,” Coughlin said. “My mom, dad and sister Kennedi are my biggest fans.”

Troy coughlin Jr. gets ready to race and the JEGS patriach Jeg Coughlin Sr. takes time for a smile

Troy Coughlin Jr. is driving two NHRA Sportsman dragsters this year while Uncle John focuses on son Cody’s efforts to master stock car racing. He has years of drag racing experience at age 21.

Troy Coughlin Jr. gets his role.

Coughlin said:

It’s a dream come true. 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. 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.

They have resources, but funds alone will never carry them where they want to go.

NASCAR drivers have opinions about young guys moving up. They may seem like elders at this point to the young guys, but it wasn’t all that long ago that they faced the same challenges trying to move up to one of the precious few Sprint Cup seats.

Kevin Harvick sees it this way:

Try to always be successful at the level you are at. If you can’t win races, be competitive week in and week out in whatever your division in whether it’s dirt, asphalt whatever the case may be—you’re just going to get more frustrated as you move up.”

Kurt Busch knows the climb is steep.

“Just take it one step at a time,” Busch said. “Going up through the NASCAR farm system and running Trucks, Nationwide—do all that before you before you move up too fast.”

Those with resources get tested every race. Seat time with legacy and humility can go a long way—all the way to the next challenge—all the way to a hopeful triumph.

Even for the advantaged, it’s no free ride.

FYI WIRZ is the select presentation of motorsports topics by Dwight Drum at Racetake.com. Unless otherwise noted, all quotes were obtained from personal interviews or official release materials provided by sanctions, teams or track representatives.

Crew members work on Cody's No 1 Chevrolet and Cody talks wtih crew cheif Butch VanDoorn
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