Latest car at Lucky’s Rod and Kustom 1930 Ford model a coupe. Former Trog race car and rat rod. Film features a flashback sequence highlighting some of my life with old cars, gas pumps and automobilia over the past 20 years
My New Jersey trip started sometime in the middle of the night on a lonely stretch of expressway between Philadelphia and the Atlantic Ocean. Running on pure adrenaline, I gripped the wheel of a futuristic German supercar that, for whatever reason, the fine folks at the rental company thought would be a suitable replacement for my missing sedan. The numbers on the digital speedometer continued to climb. Big trees, small trees, oversize signs and off-ramps made momentary appearances, only to be swallowed by the darkness.
I scanned my surroundings, then checked the clock again. It was half-past three a.m. I was the only one left on earth. That didn’t matter. Nothing did. “We’re gonna make it,” I told myself, turning up some Post Malone on Spotify. “There’s no stopping now.”
A few hours later, I woke up at the Aztec Motel in the beach town of Wildwood, New Jersey. The morning light cut through the blinds, bringing my beach-themed room into focus. I rubbed my eyes. The past 24 hours had been a dizzying mess. With four delayed flights and one lost rental car, it took a grand total of 18 hours to make it to Room 118’s doorstep. Nonetheless, I was there. And I had a job to do.
As I lumbered to life, I felt a hint of jealousy. The rest of the world had a head start on the day. And this wasn’t just any day. This was Saturday, October 2nd—the first day of The Race of Gentlemen.
Boogie on the Boardwalk
Although I’ve never been to the East Coast for T.R.O.G., I could feel the excitement in the air as I trudged down Atlantic Avenue with half my weight in camera equipment strapped to my back. The closer I got to the beach, the more and more I felt like something big was about to happen. I popped up on the boardwalk. Navigating my way through the crowd, I peered up at the unmistakable skyline of twisted roller coaster tracks, thrill rides and one enormous Ferris Wheel. “There it is,” I said to myself. “The Jersey Shore.”
Wildwood’s Surfside Pier was in full swing. Hot rodders from around the globe were all there for the same reason as I was: to see some of the country’s best traditional hot rods and motorcycles square off in an eighth mile beach race like none other. This event has gained a cult-like following in the past decade, thanks to founder Mel Stultz and the Oilers Car Club.
While wandering around the boardwalk, I thought back to past articles about the race. I had written some, while others journalists painted the picture in their own way. I was itching to jump in the sand and get to work. Mid-thought, I heard a familiar voice off in the distance. It was none other than John Helmuth.
Donned in a wide-brimmed hat and horn-rimmed sunglasses, John greeted me with a handshake and a smile. He and I had planned to meet up the previous evening at the Night of the Troglodytes chopper party, but the airline had other ideas. John still went and captured the debauchery in 35mm.
Mighty Mills Propel Classic Hot Rods
One of the great features of The Race of Gentlemen (TROG) is the variety of engines that you can spy in the hot rods on the beach. Though Ford ’banger and flathead V8s are the most popular, over the years more of the less-common traditional powertrains have shown up on race weekend, giving the field the variety that helps make the experience well-rounded.
The traditional Ford mills often come with some of the rare speed parts that make hot rodders turn sea-foam green with envy. You’ll see Blue Oval four-cylinder machines built with high compression heads, and some even with prized OHV conversions from makers such as Riley and Cragar. Flathead V8s built with rare heads and hard-to-find intakes also get the senses going.
Mighty Mills Propel Classic Hot Rods
Related – Beach Invasion TROG — A Giant 2018 Race of Gentlemen Photo Gallery
Back in 2012, a small drag-oriented event held on the East Coast called the Race of Gentlemen (TROG) shook the hot rod scene. Although it gathered only 15 hot rods and 15 motorcycles, it still captured the imagination of gearheads the world over. It was organized on the beach and featured aesthetics reminiscent of faded pictures glued in a 1950s photo album.
Over the years, other TROGs have come and gone, including one in 2016 that tread the sand of Pismo Beach, California (unfortunately plagued by stormy weather). Promoter Mel Stultz and his crew traveled back home afterwards, thinking another race was unlikely to take place on the West Coast. Yet, surprisingly, officials from the scenic city of Santa Barbara contacted Stultz in 2018 and asked him to have an event in town! They made it clear racing on the sand would not be an option, but how about using a street along the beach?
Scott Sheehan’s T.R.O.G. ready Model T will make its debut in Detroit … if it’s ready
With the Grand National Roadster Show wrapped, and America’s Most Beautiful Roadster inked into the history books, the hot rod world will start to shift its eyes further inland to the Detroit Autorama. Sure, most folks will have their eyes set on the next group of Ridler contenders, but traditional hot rodders will be waiting with bated breath to peek into the Autorama’s basement — home of the Autorama Extreme — to get a taste of what they could see at various shows across the country for the rest of the year.
Read more here
Episode 41 of Tom Cotter’s excellent YouTube series Barn Find Hunter finds Tom visiting Randy Carlson and his eclectic car collection. The car that interested me the most was the Model A Hot Rod at 16:20 of the video. This car has a great history that Randy has researched with the owners family.
Randy’s 1932 Packard that he raced at The Race of Gentlemen is also featured in the video
Randy also has another Packard which he bought as yard art along with a couple of really nice Model Ts that he has saved and are in remarkable condition. You can see the yard art Packard here
When Bob Beenenga of rural Tonica pulls his 1932 Ford Model 18 Roadster up to the beachfront starting line at The Race of Gentlemen this June, he’ll be crossing something off his bucket list, and honoring the racing legacy of an original hot rod.
The Race of Gentlemen, or TROG, is a multi-day throwback to the origins of auto racing. The event’s exclusive 1/8 mile drag races, held on a beach in Wildwood, N.J., only allow cars built before 1934 — with no parts newer than 1953.
Read the rest of Chris’s article here