Last year I somehow attended more than 30 classic car events, everything from vintage races to concours to auctions, to local cruise-in shows. Of all these events, the one that was the most amazing, and in terms of the cars and motorcycles in attendance and the people I met there, as well as the overall tone and feel of the event, was The Race Of Gentleman in Wildwood, New Jersey.
The race of Gentleman, or TROG, is basically a Goodwood Festival for the hot rod hobby. The weekend includes parties, car and bike shows — both formal and informal, —and the main event, which is racing these cars and motorcycles on the beach they way they did in the old days in places such as Ormond Beach, Florida.
The event is open to “period correct” American-made cars and motorcycles from the early 1900s to the early post WW2 era.
According to the TROG website:
“In order to have your car selected to participate appearance is important for your vehicle or bike to be chosen. Cars and motorcycles that fit the look of authentic racing vehicles from the early 1900s to the early post-war era have a greater chance of being selected. Modify your car or bike for racing, they must be bobbed and stripped down for racing.
“You may be asked to modify your vehicle to better fit the look and feel of the race. Space is limited and submissions are hand selected for their authenticity. All entries must be pre-approved and must comply with the spirit of the event. Sorry, no trucks or sedans.”
COMPETITION CAR SPECS:
YEAR: 1934 or older, American made only
ENGINE: 1953 or older, American made
FUEL: Gas only, no alcohol or nitro
RUNNING GEAR: 1953 and older. No modern transmissions, disc brakes, alternators, etc.
ADDITIONAL REQUIREMENTS AND RESTRICTIONS: No headlights, no white wall tires, no fenders on hotrods (some early-teens speedsters and racers may be exempt, but must be pre approved). Cars can be shiny or crusty as long as they are PERIOD CORRECT!
4 BANGERS: 4 cylinder American made motors. Flathead and Overhead conversions compete in the same class
V8 FLATHEADS: 8 cylinder factory flathead American made motors prior to 1920 (ie; Duesenberg, Stutz, Speedsters, Indy cars, etc) If you want to senter a pre ’53 six or twelve cylinder motor and your car is approved, you will run as an Exhibition Car only.
COMPETITION MOTORCYCLE SPECS:
YEAR: 1947 or older. American Made only
ENGINE: 1947 or older. Knucklehead, Flathead and other American Overheads. No aftermarket motors, S&S, Etc.
CARBURETOR: Period Carburetor. Linkert or factory carb. No late models carb. No Mikunis, S&S, etc.
TRANSMISSION: Period tranmission. No blatanly late modelor aftermarket transmissions
SHIFTING: Period hand shift, foot clutch. No “Jockey” style ratchet lids, no “cheater” hand clutches Harley- Tank shift only Indian or other American motorcycle- Tank shift or factory off transmission (i.e. Indian Scouts) FRAME: Harley- OEM Rigid. Indian- OEM Rigid or stock spring rear (40-47). Other American cycles- OEM frames
FORKS: Period forks. Harley- springer. Indian- girder or leaf spring. Hydraulics (ie: vard) must be pre-approved
WHEELS: Period wheels and hubs. No late model hubs or aluminum wheels
BRAKES: Period mechanical drum. No disk brakes or modern drums
TIRES: Period tires with period tread. Agressive is OK (ie: Grasshopper, Firestone ANS) No motocross knobby, paddle style or modern tread tires permitted. No white walls.
PAINT: Period paint that emulates the time period. No late model tank graphics, emblems, etc. Bikes can be shiny or crusty as long as they are PERIOD CORRECT!
NUMBER PLATES OR PAINTED NUMBERS: Period number plates with racing number clearly visible on both sides of the bike and front fork (if possible). Period style number plates. No yellow plastic Motorcross plates with zip ties. Paint or shoe polish on both sides of the gas tank is OK if you can not do plates.
This year the organizers of TROG have decided to host both and East Coast and West Coast events. This is new for TROG so I made a call to Bobby Green, one of the founders, to find out what the plans and reasoning were for the expansion.
“I think West Coast was a concept that existed from Day 1,” he said. “My pal and partner Mel Stultz basically started TROG in New Jersey because it was easy and close to where he lives.
“We always planned a West Coast event due to the incredible history of the hobby. California was really the birthplace of the hot rod and hop up phenomenon at places like El Mirage. Speed contests there was a root cause of the spread of the hop up and hot rod hobby and led directly to the speed trials at Bonneville.”
As to why they race on the beach, Green points out that, “Historically, beach racing is the birth of racing in America. TROG is a celebration of the origins of American racing and the style that goes with it.”
An addition to both events this year is one of my all-time favorite motorcycle events — a Wall Of Death, which is for those of you who have never seen one is a display in which motorcycles ride along a vertical wall, and they do it very quickly.
Green describes the Wall of Death as, ‘a combination of racing and a circus.”
The wall of death is a fantastic thing to see and by itself makes going to one of the two TROG events worth the trip.
“The biggest reason Mel and I started The Race Of Gentleman, and the reason so many people attend this event, is that it is a visible expression the freedom we used to have, before the age of litigation,” Green said.
“The weekend gives people a look at and the ability to express that freedom something that today is very elusive in everyday life.”
The Race of Gentlemen takes place June 4-5 in Wildwood, New Jersey and October 15-16 at Pismo Beach, California.