Don’t let the name fool you, The Golden Child is not referring to the driver. This 21 year old driver has drag racing running through her blood; and her namesake can give some people a preconceived notion. Miss Paige Coughlin is an experienced driver and businesswoman.
For many, the name Coughlin is synonymous with drag racing. With her grandfather being Jeg Sr, and the founder of Jegs High Performance, her uncle being Jeg Jr, and her father Troy Coughlin, all of which are significant icons in the drag racing world. Not to mention the multiple other family members that partake in this sport as well. Paige is making her name known in the NoPrep world. She has decided to make the move from dragsters to No Prep racing.
At 8 years old Paige was introduced to racing. She would dabble here and there with it, but her main passion at the time was horses. She pursued horseback riding and showing them for years. It wasn’t until she was 14 years old that she began to take drag racing seriously at her home track of National Trail Raceway in Ohio. She made the decision to have Mcilvain Racecars build a car for her that she ran for 4 years. Not only was Paige driving herself, she was also under the guidance of her father, Troy Coughlin Sr. “Me and dad are like two peas in a pod. He’s my partner in crime. When he said to try it (racing), I said OK let’s do it! He is my biggest influence.”
It was love ever since between Paige and those 4 tires and asphalt. Making the switch from dragster racing to the NoPrep scene has been a huge change. She is the only Coughlin to step out and do this without having a direct path paved for her. Of course there are speculations and questions that people have in regards to her switch to a door car, but according to her, “It’s good to be different and make changes”.
All of her years of hard work and learning, she is taking what she knows and applying it to her new endeavors. “I learned a lot in SuperComp, I prefer the bracket style racing. It has helped me make this switch to NoPrep a little easier”. Paige has a strong support unit in her corner. She is able to have her “Dream Team 2.0” with her along this transition and journey. Justin Beaver and Mike Reese are the little family that used to work on her father’s Promod, which are now helping and working on her NoPrep car. Her car is a 1992 Pro Charged Camaro with a unique paint color. “I am so appreciative to be able to race this car.
Mike Reese owns the car, he and his wife raced it. My dad has raced it too. I’m excited to break free of the big name stereo types. No one in Noprep cares that I’m a Coughlin, and it’s GREAT!” There have been a few comments made about her showing up in a black and yellow trailer, and according to her and the team, that’s just what they have, there is no need to paint or buy something new when you already have one.
“If anyone does have an actual problem with me coming to NoPrep, that’s on them. We’re here to race and we want to be part of the invitational one day. We plan on giving them all a run for their money”.
Although Paige does not have the complete NoPrep experience, she does have her own previous experiences that have helped mold and guide her. She is understanding of how the car should feel and take off down the drag strip. National Trails in Hebron, Ohio is a favorite of hers. “It’s where my dad raced and that is where I will be starting off my career”. Many people may be under the impression that dragster, Supercomp, Supergas, and other NHRA racing is the same at NoPrep. It is not.
There is a lot that goes into it and changes that need to be made. Paige is willing to take on that challenge and change. She went to Maple Grove Raceway in Pennsylvania to observe just how it all works in comparison.
“It was different in all the best ways.
It was even more awesome to see so many spectators there to watch”. From Pennsylvania, Florida, Ohio, and in between, Paige has done some traveling for a race, but has not been to the west coast for one. “I never really had to travel that far or as often, so this will be new. I won’t look at it as a challenge, but more learning for myself. I will learn how to balance work, the internship, and of course racing. We need to give it everything we have; and if my brother and father can do it, so can I”.
Paige sure does keep herself busy and productive.
In her down time she has been focusing on her internship with Drag Illustrated where she runs their Instagram page and has written an article for them as well. “It is really cool to get to work with them, and they are so accommodating to my hectic schedule”. She also is able to do the pod casts she has been invited to as well as other interviews.
For JEGS she worked in the accounting department, and after graduation she plans on transferring over to the marketing department. This being her last year in school, where she is not only obtaining a degree, she decided to double down and get a second degree as well. She is taking extra classes this semester to help ease her spring semester while she is traveling and racing. Aside from all the car stuff, mentioned before is that she is an avid horse lover. Paige adores horseback riding and showing them. She has competed in national shows throughout Florida, Kentucky, Tennessee and on the east coast. “It was such a huge part of my childhood. We would leave school for 3 months at a time and be homeschooled. I mostly ride for fun now on my friend’s horses when I get the chance. I also ride for Miami University.”
It is Paige’s positive and upbeat personality that is so gravitating. Many people in the world today have negative input towards others and situations.
Paige on the other hand meets her obstacles head on and with a smile. She has never driven a door car before, which many would see as a problem. However she looks at it with the mindset that there are no bad habits for her to break in making this sport change for herself. “No matter how much practice I do, It’ll be so different and I won’t really know until I actually do it”. Being in Supercomp as one of the younger women in the sport, she looked up to some fierce females: Brittney Force, Erica Enders, and Alexis DeJoria. “It’s great to be moving forward in a male dominated sport. I am ready to take a lead in NoPrep, it is something I am very passionate about”.
After much deliberation, taking polls, votes, and just gut feeling, she decided to name the 92 Camaro, The Golden Child. “I never got to name a car before, so this was exciting. I wanted to name it after its difficult color match, and when I sat in it, it just felt right”. A key factor in the NoPrep world, is that no one cares who you are, but if you have earned a spot, that spot is respected among the rest of the teams. Paige has herself an amazing team and “little family” as she likes to call it. This is opposed to her actual blood family that is very extensive. Jeg Sr is what started it all, her grandfather and founder of Jegs Performance, his 4 sons, John, Mike, Troy and Jeg Jr. Troy is Paige’s father and he has 4 children as well, Meghan, TJ (Troy Jr), Kelly Jo, and Paige. Driving and cars definitely run thick through their blood. “It is an extreme blessing to be where I am at and a part of my family”.
Growth and understanding are huge characteristics to have as any human being, but when it comes to sportsmanship and taking losses as a victory, that is when you know you have a great mindset. She has never been able to bring home a win in the Supercomp car, but in 2019 she was very close to it. She was at Beechbend Raceway Park in Richardsville, near Bowling Green Kentucky, up against Luke Bogacki, as he was the point’s leader.
He went out in the first round.
“Every time I raced him I learned so much. That day we got the Jegs all-star points, and I was the youngest girl to ever do that”.
Everyone has their highs and their lows.
At least Paige can laugh at herself and her little misses. During her first year of drag racing she has left the line in gear and double bulb’d someone at a not so serious race.
The best and most humanizing story she was able to share with me was about the Jegs All Star Race in Indy: “We just came from a week of bracket racing. We had everything all set up, except the throttle stop timer. With that timer the decimal point changes when you put your times in. Usually it is anywhere between 2.5-3 seconds. I put some other number that I have no clue where it came from, put in 0.3. I got onto the chip and my thumb was on the trans-break button all ready to go. As soon as I let go, it sounded like it went from first to second to neutral gear. I thought then and there that I destroyed the car. I had to drive it down the track in front of everyone. One of the PR people asked me if I had checked the box. I was so heartbroken at this point. I went and checked the box. It turns out I put the wrong number in the timer. I sat down in the grass in relief and to laugh at myself. For me, it doesn’t matter how long you have been racing or what you race, I am always going to have a “blonde” moment. And that is what I tell myself, and it makes me feel better on the inside”.
Paige is fitting right in to the NoPrep world, everything seems to be falling into place.
Her car fits her perfectly also.
The 92 Camaro was made for women to drive, it has a unique body style that fits just like a glove. “My dream car is my dad’s C7 Corvette, but I can’t picture myself driving anything else that I love and feel as comfortable as I do, than in this Camaro”. Other things that are just fitting for Paige is that her fan base is growing and she is becoming one of the most influential young women in this sport. “My fan base if growing, and that is even weird to say that I even have a fan base. I never thought much about it really until just now. It’s truly a humbling thought. I love the interaction with them in person and on social media, Watching this all grow is a super special feeling”.
It is hard to say if Paige would be the same person she is today if it wasn’t for her father. That meaning, the morals, ideals, and priorities that she holds near and dear to her heart. Her character speaks volumes. “I look up to my dad and people still talk about him and have nothing but kind words when they do speak of him. He is well spoken and knows how to treat people right. He also knows when to step up and stand up for himself. He truly is the model race car driver. If there is anyone I aim to be like, it would be him.
The way he handles his car, fans, media, all of it. Getting his hands dirty and working on the car himself. It’s your character and hard work that gets seen. If I can leave any type of lasting impression on this earth, I want it to be like his”.
There is no I in team, and Paige speaks highly of all of her help and guidance to make it to where she is today. She appreciates all the love and support from her parents, without them, she would not be where she is today; her friends and family at Jegs, both related and non-related family. “Even the women in accounting would come watch me race, I love them”.
Jeg Sr, for whom without starting his business, none of the family would be in the racing industry. Her crew team made of Justin Beaver, “He’s a brave man to put with me and my brother, we can be a lot to handle”, Mike Reese and his wife for allowing her to drive the car. Paige grew up with Mike working on her dad’s car and he treats her just like a member of his family. “I wouldn’t be here without my family, Justin, Mike and Nicole. They all push me to do better and to keep moving forward”.
“I have never brought on my own sponsors on board before and this is really exciting to be working with Proline and Protorque”. Of course the fans are also a huge part in the humility and awe that Paige experiences as her base grows and grows.
“I’m winging it, and with all of them mentioned, is who is making this all possible. I have never done something like this before and I keep learning. I will get better, we can only go up from here”.