Smokin’ in SoCal: The Race of Gentlemen 2022 Drags

Last weekend, The Race of Gentlemen invaded Riverside for their Southern California Drags. For two action-packed days, cars from coast to coast filled historic Flabob Airport, bringing racers and spectators back to drag racing’s formative years.

Born on the East Coast, The Race of Gentlemen (colloquially known as T.R.O.G.) started in 2012 as a homegrown beach race. Now, 10 years later, it has become a global phenomenon. Hosted by Mel Stultz and the Oilers Car Club, T.R.O.G. mashes up traditional hot rods with head-to-head drag racing to create an experience that you can’t find anywhere else.

Last October, we flew to New Jersey to cover the event for the first time. With the sun, sand, surf and impressive array of vintage machines, we were immediately hooked. When we heard the Oilers were taking over Flabob for an 1/8th mile drag race in December, we knew we had to be there.

On Friday morning, the historic airport was buzzing with activity. Supercharged V8s rumbled and four-bangers barked. One by one, early Fords filled the pit area, awaiting tech inspection. Walking down the rows, it’s clear that each and every car was built by hand. No detail was overlooked.  

Rusty coupes, primered sedans, and gleaming roadsters all filled the lot. These cars are the pride and joy of folks hooked on traditional hot rodding. The day was filled with testing, tuning and catching up with friends from far and wide.

Vintage planes took off and landed in the background, creating a picturesque scene. And when the sun cast its last golden rays on Flabob, everyone knew that a big day of racing was right around the corner.

Off to the Races

Just like that, Saturday was here. In the cold morning air, racers fired up their cars and prepped for a day at the drags. When the sun rose, the drivers met at the starting line to hear the rules.

Dressed like a weathered sea captain of a bygone era, Stultz wound down the briefing with his usual words of wisdom. “Have fun, be safe and, most importantly, no crying!”

Soon thereafter, the staging lanes filled with hot rods, dragsters and vintage motorcycles.

Engines revved. The starter jumped, waving a pair of flags as the racers blasted off the line. The spectators on the wall whistled and cheered, watching the cars disappear into the distance.

At this year’s Race of Gentlemen, there were no classes. No winners, no prizes, no drama. Instead, it was an opportunity to experience drag racing in its purest form. Two cars running against each other, all for the thrill of it.

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