The Race of Gentlemen 2017 in Wildwood, NJ
"The Greatest Race on Earth"
The Race of Gentlemen (TROG) is a vintage pre-1965 hot rod and motorcycle beach race. Local hot rod club, the Oilers, supports this event and helped to get it started with its founder, Mel aka 'Hollywood'. A lot of people, like attendees, event coordinators, and race teams dress in "vintage" outfits, such as some lovely pin up ladies and folks in retro race jerseys and mechanic jumpsuits, to further create a vintage beach race atmosphere.
This year marked its fifth event and every year it grows bigger. In the earlier years from year one to year three, the event was held in October. Now as it grows in attention, it is held in June (and last year a West Coast edition was held in October.)
Friday night was the Troglodytes chopper party at Binnz, near the boardwalk. It's where you stand around drinking your own booze and looking at choppers people have built and rolled in. They win prizes... But this is mostly where friends get together to drink and stumble together after midnight to an after hours gogo/strip dance club called Hurricanes that's open til 3am. If you're from Philly, you could say it's reminiscent of the Dolphin.
If you didn't go too overboard Friday night, you wake up early Saturday morning and stop at a tasty diner for breakfast and hang over cures. I like the Doo-Wop on the boardwalk. Super fast and nice service.
Saturday is the busiest day for the event and longest lines for tickets if you didn't pre-purchase an all weekend pass; day passes were only available at the door with the large line. The info booth also had a line and here you can buy a pit and press pass for certain areas with access to the race vehicles and teams.
There are long lines for drinks and merchandise as well, so I generally suggest getting your merchandise on Friday afternoon where the hot rods and bikes go through registration and have a little show--merchandise sizes sold out quickly.
Saturday night is the bonfire at the beach and all-weekend passes include entry to the bonfire. Others would have to buy entry to the bonfire at the door. Last year they didn't let backpacks and outside booze in. This year I wasn't sure because we showed up late. But from what I understood, this year’s bonfire wasn't that big and they put out the fire by eleven even though the party ended at midnight.
The boardwalk closed around the same time so Saturday night was also another night of drinking unless you're responsible and want to wake up early.
Sunday morning was time for packing, check out, and goodbyes. We went back to the race to watch and catch-up with some people we know. I took some photos that morning at the race. This year had a lot of restrictions that made taking photos at the start line difficult and the action further away--so a great telephoto lens would've been ideal. Also since the pit was opened to anyone who bought a pass, it was difficult to take photos of the vehicles and teams. Wished there were more press hours in the pits to just allow for press photography.
Sunday was also a good day to play games, eat fresh waffle ice creams, and ride some amusement rides that a great Jersey shore town like Wildwood has to offer. Some interesting things to check out: go-karts, monster truck rides, helicopter rides, paint balling, the Ferris wheel, and of course skee ball!
Most festival goers rode home that day and from the looks of the ride home, It was awful traffic for everyone.
Some say that it has gotten too popular and every year more expensive with more restrictions during an in-season event (June)--attracting more than just the gasoline culture die-hards. This has the effect of making it less about the hot rods and bikes and more about being a novelty. It may seem true with the Troglodytes chopper party being more restricted and about partying, than the bikes.
Yeah, I miss when the town was empty and October brought the possible danger of hurricane season. It meant that we could have the event and book last minute cheap motels and be hooligans on our bikes and in our hot rods on the empty streets of the beach town. And, of course, bringing our own booze to the beach bonfire...
But I think now it has its different kind of charm. It brings so many people together from all over the US and from outside of the US, like Canada and Japan -- I can tell you it was a blast that I got to see so many friends in one event.
It also means it becomes more of a beach weekend with the promise of warm weather and the boardwalk being open and all the restaurants being open.
TROG is still a great event and so many people are passionate about the rides and helping to bring it together. The vibe may have changed a little bit, but overall it's just a great reason to go to the beach and find all of your friends there in one place to hang out or party with. For families, it's a nice beach weekend with plenty to do. I suggest that everyone go to TROG at least once. Wildwood has a nice beach and the town is small, but great. Give it a whirl next year if you haven't, it's a neat experience.
So what to expect and some pro-tips:
- Follow The Race of Gentlemen for information and updates on the events like dates for the next TROG.
- Plan to stay Friday-Sunday and book ahead. We booked our rooms in March and it was becoming slim pickings and expensive. But we got a place right at the beach walking distance to the race entrance, boardwalk, and parties. The first weekends of June happen to be the local high schools’ senior week and another group convention or gathering. Also it's the beginning of beach season in general.
- If you book last minute, it will be outside of Wildwood and in a neighboring town. You can still Uber and drive around.
- Plan to spend a lot of money, especially cash. Cash is king not only at the booths at the event but also the boardwalk as well.
- Drink a lot of water and pack sun stuff. It was hot and a lot of people got burned. And plan on walking. A lot.
- Get there early, to find parking and get your tickets early (buy them online to avoid lines).
- Plan to do some other awesome stuff while you're there. Some restaurants are BYO but there are plenty of liquor and beer stores, it is tourist season and a beach town, some of the prices are definitely higher in some of these things.
- Anticipate traffic on the way home on Sunday.
See you next year