Before racing became an institutionalized affair with sponsors, crews, R&D budgets and big money at stake, it started out with drivers pitting their personally modified cars against others just to see who had the fastest machine.
The Race of Gentlemen (affectionately known among the initiated as TROG) takes you back to this time, with a weekend of racing on the beaches of Wildwood, New Jersey.
Carefully curated, “period correct” cars and motorcycles compete for glory in this history lesson that also serves as an unforgettable automotive carnival weekend. To qualify, cars must have been produced before 1935 and cannot include any parts made after 1953, while motorcycles must predate 1947 and have a tank shifter, aka a “suicide clutch.”
Three classes compete at TROG: bangers (four-cylinder engine cars); flatheads (flathead V-8 engine cars); and bikes. Contests line up two-by-two to wait their turn to go head-to-head on the one-eighth-mile long beach track. Winners earn bragging rights; losers take solace in the fact that they get back in line and have another go to redeem themselves. All contestants wear period clothing, while the staging boss wears a tuxedo and top hat and the checkered flag is dropped each time by a famously high-jumping flag wielder. The racing continues thus until the rising tide overtakes the course.
Started in 2012, The Race of Gentleman is hosted by The Oilers Car Club / Motorcycle Club, which trace their lineage back to 1947 and were co-founders of the National Hot Rod Association in 1949. The race attracts contestants from across the country, and has included luminaries like Jessi Combs, who holds the women’s land speed record (not, admittedly, set at TROG).