What makes an event so special that you’re willing to travel across the globe to be there? An event that that really has no equal in the Western Hemisphere seems like a good reason to me.
Welcome to The Race Of Gentlemen, or TROG for short, the carriers of the traditional hot rod culture torch in this modern era.
Originally held in Asbury Park, New Jersey in 2012, the event has grown so much that the Oilers Car Club moved it down to Wildwood, New Jersey for its wider beaches. But more on why that’s important in a bit.
The Race Of Gentlemen is a multi-day event that not only includes racing, but also a large swap meet, car and bike show, not to mention more than a few nights of get togethers if you catch my drift. This year, the fun ran from Wednesday the 2nd of October to Sunday the 6th.
So why is this here? Why is this relevant? The Race Of Gentlemen has no equal in the culture and quality of event that the Oilers put on in this part of the world. It’s safe to say there is something incredibly unique and special about TROG.
From the minute you drive into Wildwood, you are immediately hit with an old school flair and nostalgia. You see several businesses with classic neon signs and styling reminiscent of the early 1950s, and that theme is carried throughout the coastal town. This sets the mood immediately for what comes next.
Seeing vintage gasser drag cars, classic hot rods, and tons of vintage bikes buzzing throughout the streets, it teleports you back to a time. Now, I am 24, and I certainly have no clue what living during the era when it was normal to see these cars on the streets was like, but man, driving around Wildwood during TROG sure gave me a really good idea of what it might have been like.
The loud crackle of a vintage motorcycle being kick-started radiating out waves of sound that excite the senses and incite the little rebel that resides in us. Just by walking around the town taking in all the sights, the sounds and the atmosphere, you can tell that the owners have made this into a lifestyle of sorts.
Which brings me to the people themselves. The leather biker pants, the overalls, the candlestick outfits, the denim jackets, the bowler hats – this is what really transports you back in time. It’s not only the racers that dress this way, but the spectators too. You can’t help but to feel a little nostalgic.
But don’t let this distract you from what everyone is really here for: Racing.
Dating all the way back to 1905, New Jersey has had a very rich culture in beach racing. Remember that thing about beaches from earlier? The main draw of this event is an 1/8th mile drag race on the white sand beach. Cars and bikes manufactured pre-1953 are the only ones allowed to race, and they must be kept period correct. Nothing modern, everything needs to be as it was during the time it was built. The track is set out using large wooden markers that denote the halfway mark as well as the finish line.
The last two days are when the racing goes down, and this is when you can really see that the owners have truly inherited the spirit of the early hot rod culture in America, both the good and the bad. It brings true meaning to the phrase ‘weekend warrior’, because as you can imagine, racing on a sandy beach presents certain challenges.
And sometimes those challenges cause things to break, and that’s the risk you run by racing. That doesn’t stop anyone though; countless people are there to help each other out and get everyone running and racing.
This event is something that needs to be experienced. It’s special. Racers and spectators come from all over the world – Italy, France, Germany, Japan, and Australia to name a few. The people, the cars, the bikes, and the event itself all give this feeling of what it may have really been like when the foundations of car culture in America were being laid. It makes you wonder, how is our current car culture going to be represented 100 years from now?
My hope is that its something like what is happening at The Race Of Gentlemen.
How To join the IATS program: We have always welcomed readers to contact us with examples of their work and believe that the best Speedhunter is always the person closest to the culture itself, right there on the street or local parking lot. If you think you have what it takes and would like to share your work with us then you should apply to become part of the IAMTHESPEEDHUNTER program. Read how to get involved here.