Last month we crossed the ocean to witness a new tradition, The Race of Gentlemen, held every year in Wildwood, New Jersey since 2012. This is Americana at it’s finest! The Race Of Gentlemen or TROG, is held on the East coast on the Jersey Shore under a very fine backdrop of retro America….
Wildwood is where Bill Hayley first performed Rock Around the Clock in 1954 and the town still has examples of over 200 beautiful motels from the ‘Doo-wop’ era of the 1950’s and 60’s. The coastline is dotted with fairgrounds and roller coasters right up to Atlantic City and the boardwalk is lined with burger bars and ice cream vendors.
But we were there for TROG, a celebration of the early days of racing, organised by the Oilers Car Club. For a few days the town is taken over by 100’s of vintage American cars and trucks .. and the bikes, oh the Harleys, this is why we were there!…..Friday night was the ‘chopper party’ where dozens of customised bikes parked up, each a phenomenon of American cool. Then two days of racing along the beach, car against car, bike against bike followed with a break Saturday evening for a bonfire party and music down on the beach. This is serious stuff.
Vintage hot rods and motor bikes, many pre war, raced each other in pairs along the sand, to the sounds of iconic American music: rock and roll, John Lee Hooker, Canned Heat, boogie woogie, accompanied the compere extolling the virtues of each as they rode against tide and sand, mastering gear changes against the odds of beach racing.! All the vehicles have to be ‘period correct’ but modifications for racing are allowed. This is the place to see Harley Classics (nothing older than 1947) : knuckleheads, flat heads, Classic Indians,….glorious!
And yes, I did have blueberry pancakes for breakfast and drink root beer. And I was woken in the night at 3am by the roar and purr of old Harley’s touring the town and I did see a skunk slink under the fender of someone’s parked car but the highlight was the pod of dolphins that gracefully made their way along the ocean behind the racers in the sunshine! What a way to spend a weekend!
On Sunday evening we hit the freeway and headed north to New York City for a rest….
Next stop – Americana 2: A Tale of New York