June '20

Issue link:

Contents of this Issue


Page 37 of 71

32 THE SHOP JUNE 2020 I t's not like us car folks don't enjoy playing on the beach. Beach racing began on Ormond Beach, Florida in 1903. Wealthy vaca- tioning northerners stayed at the Ormond Hotel and raced on the 500-foot-wide, 27-mile-long stretch of sand. Further north, Cape May, New Jersey, has a long history of beach racing including a memo- rable 1-mile thrash that included Louis Chevrolet and Henry Ford. At the time, Cape May was regarded as the "finest racing beach" in the world. Along with the area's well-known place in stock car history, the first land speed record was set on Daytona/Ormond Beach by Fred Marriott in the Stanley Rocket steam car on Jan. 26, 1906 at 127.66 mph. The last record set there, before the action moved to Utah's Bonneville Salt Flats, was Sir Malcolm Campbell in the Campbell- Railton Bluebird on March 7, 1935, with a speed of 276.816 mph. That was more than double Marriot's record. Meanwhile, in Fanø, Denmark, a small island in the North Sea east of Copenhagen off the Jutland Peninsula, the Danes began beach racing in 1919. Unfortunately, in 1924, Sir Malcolm Campbell's racecar lost a tire and killed a 15-year-old spectator. That put paid to that. That same year in the UK, or Wales to be exact, there was a long stretch of sand on the Carmarthen coast at Pendine where Camp- bell set a land speed record at 146.16 mph. Pendine subsequently became a permanent fixture of the UK motorsports scene, hosting various kinds of racing until 1927. Sadly, John Parry-Thomas, driving his 27L Liberty aero-engined car Babs, crashed on March 3 and was killed—the first to die attempting a land speed record. Babs was buried in the sand dunes at Pendine. Racing the beaches had became too dan- gerous as speeds increased and the action moved to the relative safety of Bonneville. Fast-forward to 2012, however, and a resur- gence of beach racing. MEET THE TROGLODYTES That year, Mel Stultz and fellow members of the reformed Oilers motorcycle club con- ceived The Race of Gentlemen. TROG, as it is known the world over, was conceived as a casual gathering of friends— known as Troglodytes—to have fun and, to quote its website, serve as "a weekend retreat with late nights and early mornings, where you laugh and yell and experience nature in the strangest possible way." That seminal event was held on the beach at Asbury Park, New Jersey, just days before Hurricane Sandy swept through. Inevitably, 32 THE SHOP JUNE 2020 The allure of racing on the sand remains strong, at home & overseas. By Tony Thacker In 2013 in the UK, Neil Fretwell and fellow members of the Vintage Hot Rod Association hosted their first-ever Hot Rod Races on the hallowed Pendine sands.

Articles in this issue

view archives of THE SHOP - June '20