By Lee Elder
JOLIET, Ill. (May 28, 2018) – It is a gathering of champions, an event unmatched by anything in sportsman drag racing. It matches regional pride with a national stage in one of the finest arenas in all of the drag racing world.
It is the Jeg’s Allstars and it happens this week at the NHRA Route 66 Nationals at Route 66 Raceway.
“If the Allstars are running, you’ll typically find me on the starting line between the two cars,” said Pro Stock star Jeg Coughlin, himself a former Allstars winner. “Unless something pulls me away from that, I’m there for just about each and every run of all three rounds of the event. It’s a special event for me as a fan of the sport and it’s a special event, obviously, from the corporate side.”
Coughlin’s family business, JEGS High Performance, sponsors the Allstars event at Route 66. In a family that has won nine world championships and 16 divisional championships, winning the All Stars is a treasured accomplishment.
“I recall just like yesterday being on the sideline and saying, ‘Man, I really would love to participate in this race someday. And, obviously, I’d love to win it, but just being a part of it would be an amazing feeling.’ I was fortunate to qualify and compete in the 1990 TRW Allstars in Super Gas and, as it turned out, I had a great run and ended up winning in the Super Gas category that weekend in Columbus, Ohio.”
Since that time, JEGS has assumed sponsorship of the event.
Coughlin has won twice in Allstars competition, as has nitro class veteran Shawn Langdon. Former Funny Car champion Jack Beckman lost in the Allstars Super Comp finals in 2004. Tim Wilkerson, long a nitro Funny Car regular, was a Top Alcohol Funny Car Allstar in 1995. This year’s Allstar field includes Fox television reporter Bruno Massel, a former Competition Eliminator world champion. Massel is a three-time Allstars champ.
But winning isn’t easy at the Allstars level. Great a driver as Coughlin is, for example, he has lost four times. Beckman and Wilkerson have never won it.
The Allstars brings together the top point-getters in the NHRA’s 10 Lucas Oil Racing Series categories in each NHRA geographical division. The scoring runs from May to May each year and points can only be earned in divisional events. One additional All-Stars space is open for the defending event champion of each category. The event is competed over three rounds of eliminations and there is an added bonus: The racers from each division earn points with round wins. The racers from the division with the most round-win points splits a $20,000 prize. The All Stars event is scheduled for Saturday, June 2. The initial event schedule has the first round scheduled for noon.
This is hard core, door handle to door handle racing for sportsman racers. It is a chance to shine in front of a national audience.
“It’s a unique environment for a lot of reasons,” Coughlin said. “One of the reasons is that a lot of the sportsman racers race more regionally. They don’t travel the country like you see the competitors in the Mello Yello Drag Racing Series with Funny Car, Top Fuel and Pro Stock. When you get all those competitors coming to Chicago for the event, quite a few of them have only read about or seen on TV or NHRA All Access these competitors. They’ve never competed against them in the same event. That’s a really neat aspect of the Allstar event.”
The category winners get more than accolades. The Top Alcohol Dragster and Top Alcohol Funny Car winners each win $7,000. Winners of Competition Eliminator and Super Stock win $6,000. The Top Sportsman and Top Dragster winners win $5,000 and the winners in Stock Eliminator, Super Comp, Super Gas and Super Sport all take home $4,500. The runner-up in each category wins $2,000. Any All-Star winner who also wins their category in the national event that weekend wins a double-up prize as well.
This is a high-speed version of Survivor. Each driver has a one-in-eight chance at winning and the jury sits at the end of the quarter-mile with an electronic timing system. Tribal council is split into sets of two.
Two drivers from the Northeast Division can win twice this year: Joe Santangelo qualified in both Stock Eliminator and Super Stock; Nick Willard is in both Top Dragster and Top Sportsman. Jeff Strickland, of the Southeast Division, will compete in both Stock Eliminator and Top Dragster.
The defending champions are Joey Severance (Top Alcohol Dragster), Andy Bohl (Top Alcohol Funny Car), Brian Browell (Competition Eliminator), James Antonette Jr (Super Stock), Andrew Hill (Stock Eliminator), Nick Folk (Super Comp), Ken Mostowich (Super Street), Steve Furr (Top Dragster) and Mark McDonald (Top Sportsman).
The 2018 field:
Top Alcohol Dragster
Dan Page, John Hart, Troy Coughlin Jr, Marty Thacker, Megan Meyer, James Stevens, Joey Severance, Kim Parker.
Top Alcohol Funny Car
Phil Burkhart Jr, DJ Cox Jr, Tony Bogolo, Andy Bohl, Kris Hool, Kirk Williams, Shane Westerfield, Doug Gordon.
Frank Aragona Jr, David Rampy, Troy Galbraith, Craig Bourgeois, Bruno Massel, Ryan Warter, Tony Mandella, Brian Browell.
Joe Santangelo, Jeff Adkinson, Jeff Dona, Aaron Stanfield, Brett Speer, Tom Gaynor, Justin Lamb, James Antonette Jr.
Joe Santangelo, Jeff Strickland, Aaron Allison, Slate Cummings, Steve Couch, Joe Sorenson, Ryan Mangus, Andrew Hill.
Mike Robilotto, Kevin Brannon, Joseph Fuesting, Austin Williams, Gary Stinnett, Justin Cooper, Val Torres, Nick Folk.
Tom Goldman, Ray Miller III, Davin Isenhower, Jackson Collier, Kevin Dyck, Chris Cannon, Randy Bowers, Ken Mostowich.
Don Garbinski, Matt Weston, Philip Smida II, Ray Dew, Chris Vang, Steve Beggerly, Greg Ventura, Josh Dairymple.
Nick Willard, Jeff Strickland, Lynn Ellison, Mark Jones, Phil Unruh, Paul Nero, Steve Casner, Steve Furr.
Nick Willard, Sandy Wilkins, Lester Johnson, Bob Gulitti, Jeremiah Vandeventer, Mike Lucas, Bryan Warr, Mark McDonald.