Race Of Gentlemen

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Article And Photos By: Joshua Elzey

Originally Published In The October 2018 Issue Of Cycle Source Magazine

For the seventh year ‘The Race of Gentlemen’ best known thru the US as ‘TROG’, graced the sands of Wildwood NJ! Participants came from all over the states including Washington, California, Tennessee, Montana, New Hampshire, and Michigan leaving no region unrepresented. TROG also brings in racers from across the pond including Canada, Japan, France, Germany, and Italy just to name a few. Many participants plan the trip a year in advance just as soon as dates are released. This provided a unique experience for the east coast as even spectators of all ages came from all over the world to witness the backdrop of another era well preserved in the heart of this town.

Friday started off with the ‘Night of the Troglodytes!!’ chopper exhibit displayed at Bonita Hotel with DJ’s playing rock thru the night. Others attended the TROG pit area by the ‘Surfcomber Motel’ where racers started to arrive and prep for the two days of beach racing. For the fi rst time in the town’s F history, they closed down the streets in front of the events to accommodate the amount of people attending during tourist season. Many, would have to wait for the crowds to dwindle before they would be able to make their bikes race ready. In the meantime, under the glow of the historically protected 50’s era venues, many swapped vintage parts and stories on bike tech while catching up with ‘family’ that they would not have a chance to see anywhere else. While the spectators lined up for over a quarter of a mile, the racers met in a new lot to hear any special requirements before parading down to the official pit sitting to the side of the 50’s themed vendor tents.

The host Oilers MC chose a vast array of pre-1948 motorcycles to race in two categories, ‘Big Twin’ and ’45-inch’ classes. There were over 80 participants and it was great seeing more servicars! The racing started around 11 am after the crowd settled in on the bleachers on the  sand and the town gave the goahead as the tides receded. The fun started as racers found out that the town had removed three feet of sand to repair other stormtorn beaches. The downside of this; sand that was on the track would not be hard packed nor close enough to the ocean to help keep it packed. Mother Nature also decided during the day to present an hour of rain as well as a brief fog so thick that you could not see very far. Even wellexperienced racers had a new challenge in trying to get to the end of the track in a straight line. Newbies were easily bogging down as Sara jumped to wave the flag signaling the start. A vintage wrecker was utilized for hauling back those that could not get back on their own. R.J. Gibson was back with his photog moto to capture vintage tin images!

Unfortunately, the day ended around 4 PM before tides came in and because of a motorcycle accident which happened around 2 PM Sunday at the end of the track. Both riders, Jeremiah of Love Cycles and Sushi from Japan, are recovering and I suspect they will be riding again soon with the full support of friends in the motorcycle community. The shortened days meant less racing and canceling the bracket runs this year but that did not dampen spirits as this group is all about the culture and camaraderie. The streets after the racing filled with bikes zipping from one street to the next! This is the only time anyone could see vintage motorcycles allowed around any town to roam freely filling the air with rumbling exhaust and rich fumes. The weather did clear later in the evening to allow for the beach bonfire with the Woggles playing near the Libations tent with the lit up Boardwalk in the distance.

For the last day, many could check out the wares in the old canvas tents where even the sellers wore vintage clothing keeping to the theme of TROG. Among the tents you could find the American Hot Rod Foundation who provided historical plaques about beach racing and encouraged appreciation for early founders of the sport. Just outside the fence was ‘Customs by The Sea’ hosted by Norway’s Kustomrama  that had choppers, antique, and bobbers in attendance. Rick Petko, Billy Lane, and Aaron Kaufman were a few of the celebrities racing vintage bikes. By the end of the weekend many could feel the thrills of full throttle by Josh Kohn on his Harley entry, Daniel Sladovnik of PA on a ’48 HD fl athead, and Crazy Fabry came from Italy to rip his WLA HD down the beach. Some of the oldest bikes there were a 1920 Henderson Model K owned by Alan Tonges, 1928 HD JDL Special Sport out of MA ridden by Alan Cournoyer, and Jerry Chinn’s 1922 Indian Chief Stroker. The thrills certainly outweighed the spills this year as it established the racing was the real deal giving further respect for traditional beach side racing!

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