The Race of Gentlemen 2019

Authentic iron squares off on the beach

Beach racing has been a part of the automotive speed culture since the days when land-speed records and auto racing were established at Cape May, New Jersey, in 1905, Daytona Beach in Florida beginning in the 1910s, and Pendine in Wales beginning in the 1920s. These early speed racing cars presented some of the newest and popular technology of their day. As the quest for speed progressed, longer, smoother surfaces dictated that the record-setting times moved to surfaces such as Bonneville, Mohave, El Mirage, and Lake Eyre in Australia, as well as paved surfaces, usually airport runways. Those fond memories of beach racing were rekindled among a whole new generation of hot rod and speed enthusiasts October 2-6 at The Race of Gentlemen. In the seven years the event has taken place, crowd size, racing participants, and general interest by hotrod devotees have grown exponentially. What began in Asbury Park, New Jersey, in 2012, and then relocated to Wildwood, in 2013, has become a must-attend event for street rod, hot rod, and vintage motorcycle enthusiasts every October since. And for those enthusiasts, TROG is a little slice of heaven. Racing rules are not complicated, the cars must have 1934 or older bodies, pre-1954 engines, no alternators, no modern transmissions, and no disc brakes. Early wheels with period-correct bias-ply tires are also required, eliminating paddle tires or tractor tires. Other than that, anything goes—although each car is reviewed before its entry is approved and extra consideration is given to those cars presented with vintage speed equipment. Some of the race cars are over the top in terms of originality and ingenuity. Here is just one of the elaborate stories from the racers themselves about their cars— this from Chris Beckwith about his #88 boattail racer:

“I started with a 1928 Chevrolet four-door touring model rolling chassis. Built the body using the Chevrolet cowl and used a 1939 Lincoln hood for the top of the rear to get the boattail. The passenger’s compartment was made from ½-inch electrical conduit and the flats of the sides of the body were from an old filing cabinet. Convertible top frame is from a 1958 MG that I widened and lengthened. The windshield was a two piece originally that I cut in half.

“The 171-cubic-inch straight four-cylinder engine was bored .068 over to accept 1954 GMC 261 pistons and give a .124 taller deck height. I used Ford Model A connecting rods to compensate for .125 longer stroke. The stock flywheel assembly was lightened by 40 pounds, the cylinder head was ported by hand and has oversized intake and exhaust valves. A self-made/ modified aluminum intake with dual Skinner’s Union carburetors sits beside the head and a custom-made exhaust header was made from electrical conduit I purchased from Home Depot. The front suspension is from a 1928 Buick series 60 front axle that was dropped 6 inches. The rear springs were de-arched for proper front-to-rear geometry. On the dash, the fuel pressure gauge is from an old torch set and the voltage gauge from an old electrical tester. The generator came from an English Ford tractor, which I chose in order to use its mechanical tachometer drive. The tachometer is military surplus.” The only work Chris didn’t do himself was the surfacing of the flywheel, turning of the crankshaft, and boring of the block.

These other TROG participants represent only a handful of the racers from the 2019 event.

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