The Race of Gentlemen roared through a soggy Pismo beach last week (see our coverage here) giving a select few pre-war car and bike owners a chance to rip up and down the beach for some 10,000+ spectators.
Every one of those machines is a symbol of the dedication of the owner/rider. This old iron doesn’t come alive and burn fuel without a good share of busted knuckles, mechanical headaches and long nights in the shop. Some of these rides were put together just for this event, some have been in their current configuration for years and a few were original racers and hot-rods that raged on tracks and beaches way back in the years that TROG nostalgically emulates.
Burd Piston Ring Special – 1938 was an especially wild year for racing. It was the year that cars transitioned from 2-man, driver/mechanic cockpits to the now standard, driver-only set-up. At the 1938 Indianapolis 500 this car, piloted by Chet Gardner, turned in a 5th place finish while the new, single-seat #23 Burd Piston Ring Special came in first, driven by Floyd Roberts. A very respectable result for Gardner with the heavier, two-man car. Later that year, at a track in New Jersey, Gardner was killed avoiding a child who had ran onto the track. At the 1939 Indy race Roberts was killed defending his previous years triumph. He had planned on retiring after the race. The #38 car was raced at TROG by collector Jim Lattin. It still wears its original paint and houses a 270 cubic inch Offenhauser engine with dual Winfield carbs.
Barney Navarro T Modified Roadster – This is a very special car. Many recognize the name ‘Navarro’ from various pieces of speed equipment, particularly V8 flathead Ford heads and intakes (still manufactured by the folks at H&H Flatheads). This is the actual car that Barney Navarro developed most of his designs with. This car has held records at Bonneville, Muroc and even competed in oval-track racing. This car was restored recently in Oregon by Scott Perrot and Eric Sander.
Morris Brothers SoCal Roadster – Like the Navarro T, this car once terrorized competitors at the dry lakes, drag-strips and impromptu street races of California back in the 1950s. It also owned several land speed records racing with different engine configurations at Bonneville and hitting speeds up to 215 miles per hour. Restored by Dave Tanimura and now owned by Lars Mapstead it currently runs a hopped-up early Ford flathead running 4 Stromberg 97s.