If you want to skip ahead to the photos from the Race of Gentleman click here
If you live your life "a quarter-mile at a time" then T.R.O.G. is not the event for you. However, if you have an interest, of any degree, in vintage cars and/or motorcycles and enjoy good times with good people. Then you can be sure that The Race of Gentleman is an event that you don't want to miss.
The first picture... had me hooked...
About five years ago, a buddy and I were hanging out in my shop, having a beer and talking about cars and motorcycles. Nothing new there! He loves old cars and has a mild interest in motorcycles. I love motorcycles and have a mild interest in old cars. I guess we both have an appreciation for anything with an engine that can be customized. While we talked about our latest Kijii finds and dreamed about projects that we wish we had time and money for. He mentioned this race that takes place on a beach in New Jersey. He said that he thought it had something to do with 'gentleman' and that he would love to go.
I took out my cell phone and looked it up right away. It didn't take long to find. The first picture that came up had me hooked right away. A quick scroll through the photos and I was determined to go see this event for myself. Immediately we decided that we would go to the next one and the conversation moved on. Unfortunately, after that conversation, we never made any plans to go. I looked it up every year and would send him a text message about going, but we never made it.
...rumbling engines and music filled the air all weekend long.
This year Lindz decided that this October she and I would go. She booked an Airbnb, bought tickets online and off we went. The ten-hour drive flew by and next thing I knew, we were standing at the gates of Night of the Troglodytes chopper show. Just $5 to get in and see some great 60's and 70's style choppers. The band was good and the beer was cold. Just a bunch of like-minded people hanging out in a parking lot with some killer choppers.
I had gone to the Race of Gentleman only thinking about the race itself. I hadn't thought to look up anything about Wildwood New Jersey or even anything about the event. I wasn't expecting to see so many vintage and antique cars and motorcycles everywhere I looked. The entire town was taken over by hotrods and choppers. The boardwalk along the beach was lit up with neon and flashing lights. The sounds of rumbling engines and music filled the air all weekend long.
The Saturday morning we got up a bit late and decided to go get some breakfast on the boardwalk. We walked down to the Doo Wop Diner and then headed into the race. The beach had some beautiful cars parked out in front of the gates so we took the quick detour to go investigate. To see these old hotrods sitting on the beach with a boardwalk carnival behind them was like nothing I had seen before. I went expecting not to take too many pictures but, that went out the window pretty quickly. Everywhere I looked was something I had to grab a photo of.
When we made it into the race area it was about 1 o'clock and the tide had already come in. The bikes run closest to the water where the sand is packed firmer so they weren't racing but the cars were. They don't move as quickly down the beach but it is still entertaining. Hotrods, belly tank racers and rail cars were lining up and two by two flying down the beach. The thing about racing old machines is that they can be running fine one minute and then die and won't start again the next minute. It all just ads to the experience of the event though.
New Jersey has been famous for beach racing since the early 1900's
Most of the racers are dressed in period-correct clothing and each race is started by a flag girl. T.R.O.G. is based on 1940's beach racing. They started this event in 2012, but New Jersey has been famous for beach racing since the early 1900's. Henry Ford, Louis Chevrolet and some world record holders were among the people who were there around 1905. If you are just in it for the machines or the racing then you would not be disappointed, but the historical value is not just a gimmick. Motorcycles can't be any newer than 1947. There are no re-pop engines, and you must have period-correct hardware. Each motorcycle goes to a panel for review before the event to make sure that you meet their standards to race.
On Saturday the racing goes until 4pm. We managed to see some motorcycle races for the last hour of the event. Then Lindz and I decided to find a pub for dinner before heading back to the beach for the bonfire party. In the main tent, Bloodshot Bill, a rockabilly band, was playing. The vibe was great. Just a group of people brought together by their shared love of vintage cars, motorcycles and Kustom Kulture. We stayed until the band was done and then made our way back down the boardwalk towards the Airbnb. We were constantly distracted by hotrods and vintage bikes on the way back so we ended up taking the longest way possible.
On Sunday we made sure to get going much earlier. We didn't want to miss any of the motorcycle racing. Luckily, as it turned out, bikes ran all day on Sunday. The weather was perfect and the tide wasn't an issue. There was some great racing! It's not every day that you see a Henderson from about 1919 racing a 1940 Harley-Davidson flathead.
Sunday was a great day. We even ran into some friends who we hadn't known would be there. Somehow I felt at home at T.R.O.G., even though, at times it felt like another world. I can't say enough how great the people were. For an event that is so particular about who they let participate (and rightfully so), it didn't once feel pretentious or phony. Everyone is there for the same reason. The cars and motorcycles that came out were incredible. I already can't wait for next year's Race of Gentleman!