I’ve known Mel Stultz since before The Race of Gentleman. We were car-club brothers and even then he would drive everyone mad with his endless dreams, schemes and ideas of making car events fun again.
Racing, speedways, dare-devils. Fuel, fire, mayhem. It was all he ever talked about.
Hot-rods and chopped down bikes doing what they were built to do??!! Sure Mel, sounds fun but who the hell wants to try to pull something like that off? Even a boring parking-lot car show is a first-class headache with city permits, port-a-potties, insurance and car-guy egos. Finding or building a race venue? Handling all those logistics – no way Jose! Never happen.
Fast-forward a decade and Mel and his crew have run the Race of Gentleman – TROG – 5 years in a row on the East Coast and, this past week, held the first ever TROG WEST at Pismo Beach in central California. TROG shows have very quickly grown into the must-attend traditional car and bike events in the US. Why? Because after going to TROG other car shows will seem very tame. Quiet. Let’s face it – boring.
It’s one thing to stand next to a car, look at the sum of it’s parts, admire the craftsmanship and design, maybe get a glimpse at the owner or builder’s dedication and hard work. But seeing that car blast through the sand – full tilt boogie – the owner wearing the biggest shit-eating grin imaginable, rear-end desperate for grip, wheels-spinning. That’s just a whole lot closer to sharing the passion that goes in to these cars and bikes. And that’s what it’s all about, isn’t it?!
Anyone who attended those first events became a convert to the church of TROG and word quickly spread – car shows are fun again! When a TROG was announced for the west coast – the spiritual birthplace of hot-rodding – naturally the entries flooded in. TROG is invitation only and selects the racers based on strict rules. American cars older than 1935, bikes older than 1947. Bonus points for nailing the 1940s street and beach racing vibe. Vintage flatheads and four-bangers hopped up with vintage speed equipment propelling cut-down original Henry Ford and Davidson brothers steel. Extra bonus points if your car has pre-war race history.
Despite terrible weather over 10,000 folks showed up to watch the spectacle and get in on the fun. Two days of racing got cut down to one afternoon because of tidal surges but everyone made the most of those precious hours. The track was short and the races were quick. Moments after one race finished the next pair of pre-war gow jobs or quartet of flathead Harley’s was blasting down the beach.
Above the beach Sondre Kvipt (the kustom car maniac responsible for www.kustomrama.com) assembled 25 incredible custom cars, each in the pre-war style, for a special Customs By The Sea event.
Before and after the racing, the Pismo north beach campground was the place to be with most of the race cars on display along with some very rare vintage campers and trailers.
Cheers to Mel and the gang for bringing the extravaganza westward – and hopefully we get to do it again next year – and the years after that.