Hot Rod Deluxe - - Contents -

Rac­ing Road­ster pro­ject fi­nale: Hit­ting the beach at The Race of Gentle­men.

On an Oc­to­ber day five years ago, I was awak­ened by my buddy Elvis, who was on a mis­sion to get me up and out of the house. In my predawn stu­por, I made out the words “hot rods” and “race on the beach” over the phone. I re­mem­bered read­ing about the pos­si­bil­ity of an event called The Race of Gentle­men on sev­eral In­ter­net mes­sage boards, and even heard the rum­blings through lo­cal friends in the hobby.

So I grabbed my trusty Nikon cam­era and drove down to the race lo­ca­tion, where I couldn’t be­lieve what I was see­ing. There, on this ex­clu­sive, up­scale beach, was the be­gin­ning of a hot rod hap­pen­ing for the ages. At least a cou­ple dozen pre- and post-war-styled hot rods lined the en­trance to the nar­row shore­line, with a smat­ter­ing of cool Har­leys and In­di­ans thrown in.

I lo­cated Mel­don Van Riper Stultz, the orig­i­na­tor and or­ga­nizer of the race, and hit him up for start­ing line ac­cess. I took about 500 pic­tures that day. A dozen or so made HOT ROD magazine a few months later, with one grac­ing the cover. The Race of Gentle­men was of­fi­cially off and run­ning.

I cov­ered the race over the next five years for HRM and HOT ROD Deluxe, keep­ing our read­ers abreast of what was go­ing on over here on the “right” coast. It was al­ways a great time when TROG was on the beach, and I was per­fectly happy with be­ing be­hind pen and cam­era, do­ing my share to spread the gospel of TROG. But af­ter five years of walk­ing the beach beat, change was in the air.

RAC­ING ROAD­STER FI­NALE: Hit­ting the Sand at The Race of Gentle­men

Road­ster Riot

In 2015, while look­ing for my next pro­ject, I de­cided to go out­side my com­fort zone and build a Model A. I wasn’t build­ing it to race ex­actly; I just wanted a week­end beach cruiser. I lo­cated a chas­sis and a bunch of body parts, but the pro­ject stalled when I ran into other is­sues, and I de­cided to put the ’29 road­ster up for sale on­line. That’s when I met TJ O’grady, a pre-war hot rod ex­pert, TROG vet­eran, and owner of Throt­tle Jockey Orig­i­nals out of Bo­hemia, New York. We de­cided to build my car for the race. I fun­neled parts to TJ and he built my Model A into a sight to be­hold—a process doc­u­mented on these pages for the past few is­sues.

It was fin­ished with only a few weeks to go be­fore the race. Luck­ily, TJ got to break her in at the Jalopy Show­down be­fore bring­ing the road­ster to TROG.

The Amaz­ing Race

When TROG pulls into Wild­wood, New Jersey (its new of­fi­cial home base), the whole de­meanor of the town changes. It gets louder, it gets faster, and the mu­nic­i­pal­ity goes into a time warp of sorts. The pe­riod ho­tels are abuzz with rods and rides. TROG is more than a car show; it’s a hot rod cir­cus and petrol-fu­eled carnival all rolled into one.

Early Fri­day morn­ing the streets were al­ready full of hot rods and hot bikes. At TROG head­quar­ters, based in and around the kitschy Star-lux ho­tel, I meet Corin Stub­ble­field and wife Michele, two long­time TROG main­stays. They get me through my reg­is­tra­tion pa­per­work and on to my safety in­spec­tion. The rowdy road­ster passes with no prob­lem. We are of­fi­cially in the race.

Satur­day morn­ing I meet TJ at the Star-lux lot. Due to time con­straints, I hadn’t even sat be­hind the wheel of the fin­ished car un­til that mo­ment. TJ gave me a quick run­down on what to do and not to do on the sand. With that I turned the key, clicked on the fuel pump, and hit the starter. The hopped-up banger popped to life with a throaty rum­ble that echoed through the body of the min­i­mal­ist hot rod. I threw it into gear and fol­lowed the re­main­ing par­tic­i­pants to the race en­trance just off of Ocean Av­enue.

At the en­trance to the beach, it re­ally hits you how big this event is. Even at 8 in the morn­ing, the road is packed with spec­ta­tors ea­ger to get a glimpse of the driv­ers and their rides as we fun­nel into the “gaz­ing tun­nel” un­der the board­walk and onto the sand. It’s a sight to see, even bet­ter from the driver’s point of view!

This is where you get your first feel of driv­ing on sand. It’s an un­usual ride in a hot rod with skinny tires. It’s noth­ing like driv­ing here in a Jeep with the tires aired down. It’s more like driv­ing on 6 inches of heavy snow, with a lit­tle more trac­tion. The Model A tracked well, and it was soon easy to feel how the road­ster would re­act to throt­tle and steer­ing.

Once on the beach, we are cor­ralled into the pit area, where we do last-minute checks, and stage for the slow creep to the start­ing line. Time to get into driver mode.

The or­ga­niz­ers ask that you dress the part of an early hot rod­der. I had a HOT ROD Deluxe shirt made by Home­town Jersey, com­plete with felt lettering. I took along my old Buco hel­met, prob­a­bly late 1950s vin­tage with leather earflaps. I took along sev­eral vin­tage gog­gles and glasses I had col­lected over the years, none of which gave me any vi­sion what­so­ever. I ended up us­ing a pair of safety glasses to cover my eyes from the sand­blast­ing I was about to en­dure.

Mel ad­dressed the driv­ers in a pre-race meet­ing, lay­ing the ba­sic ground rules: Have fun, be safe, be aware, and en­joy the day. By this time there was a fever pitch amongst the driv­ers; we were about to roll.

Luck was with us, as bangers were called up first. I made my way out of the pits to­wards Joe Oz, the tuxe­doed “Mas­ter of Cer­e­monies” at the start­ing line, ready to set us up. I was paired with another banger-pow­ered Model A, with bolt-ons sim­i­lar to mine. As we crept to the line, I got a good look at the track, and the hordes of spec­ta­tors that were grow­ing by the minute. My heart was pound­ing out of my jersey. Only one thing left: to wait for TROG’S jumpin’ flag girl Sara Fran­cello to let us loose. With the drop we were off and run­ning.

TJ ad­vised me not to punch it too hard out of the gate. Let the tires grip and get through the soft stuff along the start line. Make First gear a quick push and then head right into Sec­ond. The peppy four-cylin­der re­sponded without a hitch, and we bat­tled from line to line, stay­ing within a car length of each other the whole time. The car slid slightly side-to-side when I hit the throt­tle, but over­all tracked well through the sand.

We fin­ished with our road­ster trail­ing by a fender, which I was fine with. My first run went well, and I was ea­ger to get back to the start­ing line. Once the “all safe” sig­nal was given, we were led back to the start. I headed straight through the pits and right back in line.


This would be re­peated about nine times on Satur­day. I wanted to get as much driv­ing in on Satur­day as pos­si­ble. I won as many races as I lost, and even man­aged to pick off a flat­head or two. It was a joy out on the sand, and I was itching to come back the next day.

Bracket rac­ing takes place on Sun­day. Hot rods and bikes are put in classes ac­cord­ing to en­gine size. Some came to have fun; some came to win.

We had a strong-run­ning ride and I felt con­fi­dent com­ing up to the line, es­pe­cially since we had taken our op­po­nent the day be­fore. How­ever, we had our first me­chan­i­cal is­sue of the week­end. Dur­ing the heat, the bat­tery box came dis­lodged, dis­con­nect­ing our elec­tri­cal sys­tem. On a do-over, I was taken nar­rowly by the sleek road­ster. As a con­so­la­tion, I found out that par­tic­u­lar ride made it to the semi-fi­nals.

We con­tin­ued to run out the day, mak­ing as many passes as pos­si­ble. The road­ster just couldn’t have run any bet­ter over­all, with just a few mi­nor is­sues that didn’t keep us from rac­ing. I raced un­til they closed the track.

Back at the Star-lux lot, many of the rac­ers parked and talked about the week­end. It was a huge suc­cess on all ac­counts, with Mother Na­ture be­ing our big­gest sup­porter, giv­ing us two glo­ri­ous June days and good tides for rac­ing. The road­ster was our other big win­ner. It ran with the best of them, and looked just killer out on the sand.

I’d like to thank ev­ery­one in­volved, es­pe­cially TJ O’grady and Throt­tle Jockey Orig­i­nals for putting to­gether this rad tra­di­tional hot rod. Also thanks to the sup­pli­ers who helped us adorn this beauty with top-notch parts. And fi­nally, a spe­cial thanks goes out to TROG co-founder Mel for grant­ing us ad­mis­sion to this in­cred­i­ble event. Bob Bader’s An­tique Ford Parts Cen­ter; 631-256-0030; bader­[email protected]

Brookville Road­ster; 937-833-4605; brookville­road­ Coker Tire; 866-516-3125; cok­er­

An­thony Dilib­erto; ad­pin­strip­[email protected]; In­sta­gram: @pin­strip­ing_by_ad

Elmer Equipped; elmerequip­; In­sta­gram: @elmerequip­ped; Face­book: face­­ped

Home­town Jersey; home­town­jer­

Kohler Kus­tom; kohlerkus­; In­sta­gram: @kohlerkus­tom; Face­book: face­­tom

Pow­er­mas­ter Starters and Al­ter­na­tors; 630-957-4019; pow­er­mas­ter­mo­tor­

Throt­tle Jockey Orig­i­nals; throt­tle­jock­ey­o­rig­i­; In­sta­gram: @throt­tle­jock­ey­o­rig­i­nals; Face­book: face­­tle-jockey-orig­i­nals

WAC Cus­toms; 860-459-0399; [email protected]­cho­

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