A Day at the Races

Hot Rod Deluxe - - Roddin’ Scene -

Since Andy is a newly en­listed mem­ber of the Oil­ers crew, his TROG ad­ven­ture starts with race prep early in the week and con­tin­ues un­til race day. Like many driv­ers, though, there were hours spent on his race car be­fore he headed to Wild­wood, go­ing down a ba­sic check­list to make sure the car would per­form up to stan­dards. The Model A had spent many months in slum­ber over the long win­ter and needed to be gone through thor­oughly.

Most of the ba­sic main­te­nance points were touched: plugs, wires, flu­ids, and run­ning gear all checked out and tweaked. Since Andy runs a full hood and bel­ly­pan, sand is­sues are cut down greatly, but not com­pletely. He runs a sand shield and screens on his carbs to fight off is­sues. You’re bound to get the grainy stuff in ev­ery nook and cranny (in­clud­ing on your per­son), so ev­ery pre­cau­tion should be taken, un­less you’re just a glut­ton for pun­ish­ment. Sand and salt wa­ter make for a nasty combo to say the least, and there have been quite a few en­gine fa­tal­i­ties af­ter a week­end in the grit.

While the first TROG in 2012 was a one-day hap­pen­ing, now it’s a week­long event—that is, if you don’t count the end­less hours TROG chief hon­cho Mel­don Stultz and his Oil­ers Car Club crew spend off the sand pre­par­ing for the week­end. Now in its sev­enth year on the Jersey Shore, the show has be­come a “well-oiled” ma­chine.

Af­ter a late Fri­day night of fes­tiv­i­ties, Andy is up at dawn, ready to meet with fel­low rac­ers to pre­pare for an as­sault on the sand in a car he’s chris­tened num­ber 169. By now, the sound of open head­ers can be heard through­out the streets that make up the Wild­wood grid, echo­ing off the mul­ti­tudes of con­crete mid-cen­tury-themed ho­tels that dot the town.

By 8 a.m., the rac­ers are lined up along Ocean Av­enue for their en­trance to the beach. The “gaz­ing tun­nel,” the pas­sage un­der the board­walk at the race lo­ca­tion, has be­come a fa­vorite spot for spec­ta­tors and pho­tog­ra­phers alike. Here, Andy leads the way for the four-wheeled rides, with more than 150 cars fol­low­ing him onto the sand.

Weather can wreak havoc on TROG, and this year was no ex­cep­tion. An overly wet spring left the sand in a frothy boil; groomers were con­stantly flat­ten­ing the dragstrip as the tide re­treated along the shore­line. Weather reports told of pos­si­ble

thun­der­storms along the lower coast, which would not be wel­come in the least. But at TROG, there’s no rain­out. You get the runs you can get be­fore it all goes to pot.

Af­ter a re­quired driver meet­ing, the cars hit the sand. With the largest field to date, the lines moved slowly. Add in rain, fog, and de­lays for groom­ing the sur­face, and it was tough get­ting in mul­ti­ple runs.

The bikes had it es­pe­cially hard, as the soft sand was tough to nav­i­gate on just two tires. There were trikes added this year, which had a lit­tle more sta­bil­ity on the eighth-mile runs. Cars and bikes dug in and tried to get trac­tion in the fluffy grit, throw­ing mounds of beach at the lucky few who got to be up close and per­sonal on the beach­front.

It was a rough first day on the beach. With the de­lays, Andy had man­aged to get in only three runs. Af­ter see­ing how dif­fi­cult it was for many rac­ers to get through the pits and down the track, hav­ing raced at TROG nearly ev­ery year, and know­ing many of these par­tic­i­pants have come a long dis­tance to ride the surf, Andy de­cided the best thing to do was call it a week­end. This would help more guys and gals get in mul­ti­ple runs on Sun­day. It’s this type of sports­man­ship that makes The Race of Gen­tle­men such a great event.

The only thing left was to bring num­ber 169 off the beach and check her vi­tals. The road­ster ran well, with no is­sues. How­ever, sand is a pesky hitch­hiker. You could spend weeks pulling grains out of ev­ery cor­ner of your ride, which Andy did, and yet he still gets re­minders of his day on the beach with each bump he hits on the road. But that’s fine with him. It’s a friendly re­minder of good times on the sand, with good friends, do­ing what he loves most.

> Here’s a shot of the un­der­side of the road­ster dur­ing the bel­ly­pan fab­ri­ca­tion. The tear-drop-shaped pan is a big plus for aero­dy­nam­ics and helps keep some of the loose sand out of the car. > The main at­trac­tion up front is Kohler Kus­tom’s own 2.5-inch drop axle. Andy makes these in his shop, us­ing his grand­fa­ther’s 60-year-old press to shape them (a process we cov­ered in “Get Your Drop On!” May 2017). This par­tic­u­lar one is from a ’36 Ford, as are the split wish­bones, in­stalled in spring-for­ward fash­ion. An F1 steer­ing box keeps this sand-shear­ing ride pointed in the right di­rec­tion.

PIC: ANDY KOHLER PIC: ANDY KOHLER

> Andy added an aux­il­iary tube cross­mem­ber ahead of the stock lo­ca­tion to ac­com­mo­date the spring for­ward sus­pen­sion. It’s not usu­ally an ap­peal­ing look, so he made a frame-horn cover that blends in with the bel­ly­pan. This piece gives the car down­force, which helps can­cel out some of the op­po­site lift­ing force be­ing cre­ated by the bel­ly­pan. > Andy ini­tially painted the road­ster red with a white flame job, but de­cided to change it. “Af­ter com­ing up for air af­ter days of a PRE-TROG thrash, I re­al­ized I had un­in­ten­tion­ally copied my buddy Jef­frey James’ paint job on his Hot Mess coupe.” So days be­fore the 2016 event, the fresh paint was sanded down, masked off, and a new color scheme was de­vised and ex­e­cuted.

PIC: OLIVIA STROUD

> Andy just doesn’t come to play in the sand. His band, The Tell Tale Signs, has be­come a sta­ple of Satur­day night at The Race of Gen­tle­men week­end bash. > “Back in the late 1940s guys were try­ing any­thing to get an edge, em­ploy­ing air­craft and mil­i­tary-sur­plus pieces, and us­ing the knowl­edge they learned in the ser­vice to go faster,” says Andy. “That just res­onates with me.”

> Satur­day at TROG was plagued with de­lays. Poor sand, in­clement weather, a smaller foot­print for the race, and the largest field ever for a TROG event all played with the flow of the race. Sun­day saw im­prove­ment, which put a smile on the faces of both the driv­ers and spec­ta­tors alike.

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