The Race of Gentlemen or "TROG" has by far become my favorite automotive event of the year and this year was no exception. TROG is a perfect example of a small low-key event that's kept true to their roots. Even with all of the exposure and hype surrounding this year, Mel and the Oilers CC/MC did a great job keeping the race feeling as low-key and laid back as the first. This year the guys really worked hard to turn this event into a full fledged weekend event, with things to do all weekend. I decided to stay the entire weekend and see and do as much as I could.
As early as Wednesday or Thursday cars and people from out of town were rolling in with cars coming from as far as SoCal, and people from as far as Europe! The crew began assembling the "race arena" by putting up timing towers, signs, tents, and barriers to keep the crowd safe. From the buzz surrounding the event and the sponsor hotels selling out in hours after the dates being announced, the Oilers knew they were in for a good turnout.
Previous years most people ended up hanging out Friday night at the Stardust and neighboring hotels where the majority of the race cars were parked, so this year Mel and co. decided to put on a proper Pre-Party with a Chopper show, a couple bands and a DJ spinning vinyl for good measure too! The city was nice enough to partition off the block surrounding these hotels and let cars and bikes park on the street and the party spilled into the streets where everyone could talk about the passion we all share.
The chopper show followed the same ideals as the race in which all of the bikes featured were true vintage and "traditionally" styled choppers from their heyday. I throughly enjoyed the bikes in this show because every single one was different and pretty much hand built and! The way it should be, not brand new bikes with navigation, tv's, heat, and whatever other gadgets put on bikes to make them closer to a car than a bike these days!
Ahem.. sorry struck a nerve there.. anyways! To sum it up, the bikes show had no shortage of flake, flames, lace, pearl, and custom metal work. The cars in the street were some of the cars to race later in the weekend, and even some killer spectator cars that were cruised down for the race. Even though the party only stretched a block down the strip, there was so much to see, and so many cool people to meet, we easily burned the good portion of our evening here and the party went into the wee hours of the morning!
The next morning we woke up early to try and get down to the sand to get good a good spot next to the track. The weather looked dismal but that didn't stop hundreds of other people to line up to get into the gates early. The setup this year was changed a little bit for the safety of the crowd so the pits and staging area were sectioned off for just the racers and their crew. The only other changes were concrete barriers put in place down the track to keep everyone safe in case a car or bike went out of control, a necessary evil for sure, but didn't obstruct the spectators view of the track too much.
Even with rain lightly coming and going, the races started and the cars and bikes alternated going down the track. These guys didn't let the dreary weather bother them one bit with their throttles wide open and exhausts roaring. The weather really made for some dramatic shots with the rough surf crashing down and the dark clouds in the background. This of course brought everyones techno-gadget out to shoot photos and video of every pass.
After watching the races for a few hours the clouds began to break and the sun came out and we decided to book it across town to see our friends from the Kustomrama website that were putting on the 1st annual Customs by the Sea show for the traditional custom fans that wanted to show off their lead sled, tail dragger, lowrider, or otherwise traditionally styled custom car or truck. The styling of the vehicles varied widely with everything from mild historic 40-50's customs to over the top Kustoms like a recreation of the Barris "Copper Cart" and paneled, laced, and metal flaked 60's style cars that just screamed for your attention. It was really cool to see some of the historic cars that came out of the woodwork for the event that were actually built in the 50's, 60's, and early 70's and read about their history on their window plaques. I'd definitely say that seeing all of these great cars really gave me some inspiration to get Project Pilehouse roadworthy so maybe I could cruise it to the show next year! For the first year the show was pretty well attended both days and was a great addition to the TROG weekend.
Saturday night after everyone grabbed some dinner the vendor area by the race track turned into a beach party with some killer rock bands playing all night and a huge bonfire burning hot. It brought everyone together to talk and mingle and shake it on the dance floor in the sand. The beach party is really surreal with the cars parked all around you on the beach, people dressed in period correct attire, and some good ol' fashioned rock and roll playing, you felt like you were in the scene of an old movie! I couldn't ask for a better way to round the night out after a day of watching cars race!
Sunday morning we (like I'm sure many others) woke up a bit later then we'd like and got up a little slower than the morning before, but we were greeted by sunny skies and a near perfect cool fall-like day. We headed back to the beach and the crowd for Sunday was significantly larger than Saturday. Either the word spread that this event rules, or the nice weather brought out some more folks.. I'd say it was a combination of the two! Some new cars entered the races on Sunday with some vehicles taking "exhibition" runs like some Hemi powered Fords, but I doubt anyone was complaining about the lovely sound of some vintage Hemi engines singing at WOT!
All in all this weekend was the best yet and shows no signs of getting smaller and we can't wait for next year. If anything go to this event to get yourself inspired to go work on your project car or bike and bring it out to cruise with everyone next year! Thanks to Mel and the rest of the Oilers for putting on another great year of TROG, the classic car and bike community thanks you!