I had heard about The Race of Gentlemen (TROG) a few years back through a couple of close friends.
Six months ago I found out that the next race would be just a few hours away from Brooklyn in Wildwood, NJ.
TROG wasn't just any event. Over the course of 3 days, people flood the beach to witness custom pre and post war era vehicles race head to head. There is a car show, evening bon fires and a chopper party. The racers are dressed in early 1900's style. The spirit of the entire event pays tribute to the early days of racing.
A couple weeks before the event we reached out to Kai D. and asked him to outfit Steven Onoja, Melissa Warshavsky and I in clothing that would be appropriate for the feel of the event. Kai was familiar with TROG and thought it would be a fun idea. We spent some time putting together appropriate outfits for each of us. The day before the race we finalized everything and picked up the pieces.
On Saturday morning we piled in the car and drove 3 hours to the beach. When we got there, I didn't expect the beach to be so expansive. It was quite the walk to get down to the shoreline where the races were. As we approached the event, a giant ferris wheel looming over us in the fog, a surreal feeling came over us-almost as if we were transported back in time. Our outfits and the scene itself left almost no trace of the modern world. We approached the first tent and paid the $135 in cash to get in.
As you went in the front gate a hand made sign that said "TROG" hung above you. You could hear the roar of the engines just past the massive sand dunes that were built for the event and served as a form of bleachers.
While there are plenty of photos of slinging sand, I had only two objectives:
1. Photograph the art that Kai D. had lended to us.
2. Photograph the characters that comprised the event and the intricate details that go mostly unnoticed.
There was a private fenced in area called the 'pit' where the vehicles that were about to race would go out towards the beach and the vehicles that finished racing would come back in. It was a very chaotic place. You might imagine motorcycles and cars driving in and out like they might on paved asphalt. Your imagination would be wrong. The sand was very thick and to even move a bike or car, it would often take many grown men to give it a bit of momentum before the rider or driver had a chance. Then, the operator would gas it and fish tail, almost uncontrollably, in an effort to make forward progress.
As the race ended, the vehicles left the sand and made their way to the concrete, landing at a local bar or hangout spot where everyone gathered around for great conversation and some cold beer.
The whole event was well worth the drive and money. The weather took a turn for the worse about halfway through, but it actually made the photos even more moody and the feeling a bit more authentic.
We will definitely be back next year.
Also, if you liked Kai D's clothing from this shoot, here is an additional set of shots from around Brooklyn. Melissa is wearing Hye Sun Mun.