A Day at the Races
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.
> 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.
> 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.