For the third year in a row, The Oilers Car Club & Motorcycle Club descended on Wildwood, NJ. For a long weekend, hot rods and motorcycles tear down Atlantic Avenue from the Starlux to The Deck causing mayhem and madness in a way that only real steel and vintage horsepower can do. From early in the morning and late into the night, the sound of overhead valves, shorty headers and tires screaming for mercy takes the town back to the late 1940’s when Marines brought their hot rods to the beaches to get together and find out who had the fastest ride.
This year, The Race of Gentlemen had an unexpected, unanticipated, and unwelcome attendee that ended up forcing the races back a full weekend. Hurricane Joaquin. From all around the world, racers had cars built and brought to the Wildwoods to participate in vintage beach bracket racing, and a few of those racers had to watch their opportunity to race wash away.
Cars, motorcycles and their riders and drivers arrived from across the United States all the way from the South Jersey area to the opposite coast in California. Then there are the international visitors, racers who come from Switzerland, Norway, Canada and Japan. With racers coming from about as far and wide as it gets, photographers from magazines and across the world had battled for the pit and starting line passes from Hemmings Motor News to Hot Rod Magazine, to capture the essence of what vintage beach racing would have been, 70 years ago.
The Race of Gentlemen couldn’t be brought down by a weekend of poor weather; rain, wind or otherwise. Reservations that could be changed and extended were, and for everyone that was stuck with a weekend of rain, wind and gloom, got together for dinner, drinks and dancing in an effort to make the most of the gusty weekend that put a halt to the real fun of putting the pedal to the metal.
Gifts were exchanged, free tees were handed out, and to the lucky few who were out hanging out with the racers early, we got a chance to see some Sunday morning mayhem of TROG attendees putting on a small show for the photographers, riders and racers who were spending their last morning in Wildwood. The weather had provided a slight consolation prize for those who held out through the rough weekend as well. The clouds broke, the sun started to shine, and riders went out to claim what sand they could before having to pack their bags for this year.
Despite the terrible weather on the way down to Wildwood, the car accidents, flooded roads, detours and u turns required to make it down, I’m glad I made the trip down for the first weekend. Next weekend I’ll be down again to watch The Race of Gentlemen make history for itself once again. I was able to get my first ride on a custom built chopper, meet one of the four riders preparing to change the races forever.
How will four riders change #TROG forever? You’ll just have to wait until next weekend for the races and for when the real surprises drive up to the starting line and wait for the flag to drop.