I can’t imagine The Race of Gentlemen without the colorful (in more ways than one…) backdrop of Wildwood, NJ… but damn if Pierre’s photography and words don’t make me even more sorry that we weren’t there.
“The high tide snuck in early the night before TROG West, spilling water far onto the beach and knocking down barriers. It seeped into the pit area leaving a lagoon of seawater and foam on the lower end. Saturday morning there was a light rain but it was dense. The crowds started to pour in and already cars were getting stuck in the soft sand of the upper parking lot. There was a delay as we waited for the tide to recede. Finally the bikes started making their way from the hardtop to the sandy beach. Along the way, many were mired in the deep, loose sand of the upper beach. It was slow going. Cars followed with the same results and several had to be towed out to reach the firmer sand closer to the ocean.
There was a palpable tension as the crowd surged to watch and had to be held back. It all seemed slow and very precarious. It didn’t seem to bode well for hopes of a race day. After much effort, bikes and cars began funneling onto the course and a real sense of relief was evident as they began their runs. Once racing was in full swing it was incredible. I’ve never seen so many beautiful bikes and cars all in one place. And most importantly, with the express purpose to race them hard.
The vibe of TROG definitely pours from the top down. Mel Stultz always seemed to have a mischievous smile and Bobby Green seemed in his element coordinating racing and seeing it all happen. But the person to me who exemplifies the true spirit and passion of TROG is, of course, the flag girl. The passion and excitement that she expresses run after run with such energy is infectious and helped fuel racers and 12,000 people watching. That night the high tide swallowed the beach. In the days following, several people commented about the camaraderie and used phrases like, life changing. I must say, I have to agree.