THE TRIP TO WILDWOOD, NJ
Thursday, June 8th, 2017 awoke to glorious sunshine and I was beyond excited about the trip to Wildwood in the hot rods. Mr. Carter Cook had arrived, introductions were made, and Dick DeLuna’s Salinas Special was loaded into the trailer for Carter to drive at The Race of Gentlemen. I made the trip down in Jon’s coupe so that I could get shots of Ken’s car.
When you see a Rolling Bones car you immediately know that it is a Rolling Bones car. They look fast and mean, and I was honestly expecting it to be a very long day of super loud engine noise and kidney testing jolts, especially on the New Jersey highways. Now, I’m not going to say that riding in the hot rods was a Cadillac-like ride, but the cars were so well built and engineered that I very quickly forgot that I was in a one-of-a-kind car built using technology that was over seven decades old and instead could completely just enjoy the fact that we were cruising down the interstate at 80-90 miles an hour. Ken had recommended that I wear ear plugs, not for the engine noise, but for the wind noise as these cars are strictly air-conditioned by Mother Nature.
It is amazing to be cruising down the highway in hot rods that you’ve seen and have only dreamed about riding in. The look on people’s faces as we drove by varied from scowls to very enthusiastic thumbs-up and everything in between. The enthusiastic reactions far outnumbered the scowls, and I was really wondering how many accidents had been caused by some idiot trying to drive while using his phone to get a photo or video to put on his social media feed.
With a stop for gas and a stop for lunch and by the time my adrenaline had come down to more human levels we were pulling in to Wildwood, NJ.
THE RACE OF GENTLEMEN
Suffice it to say that the Race of Gentlemen is a story in itself but I’ll share a bit of what it was like hanging out with the crew during the three days of TROG so you can get a small sense of what it was like.
In a word, family. Now this isn’t a 1950’s TV version of a warm and cuddly family. It’s a slightly dysfunctional, don’t-make-me-pull-this-car over kind of family. The kind of family that has great debates, differing points of view and shows its love and acceptance by giving you a hard time kind of family. It’s great to have an opinion but you better be able to back it up kind of family. The kind of family that takes the good times and the bad and makes the best while all the time making memories that last a lifetime kind of family. It was an honor to be a part of this small family for the few days I was there.
The days were pretty much meet for breakfast to start the sh!t talking followed by heading down to the beach to be a part of the race. Lining up in the Rolling Bones cars in the line heading to the beach for the races felt kind of like hot rod royalty.
The evenings were always entertaining as the crew and other friends of the Bones gathered to make the nightly pilgrimage to whatever restaurant was chosen for the evening’s sustenance and vocal recollections of the day.
There were four Rolling Bones cars and drivers at The Race of Gentlemen for the event: Ken Schmidt and his three window 1933 Ford coupe “591”; Jon Suckling and his and his 193; Ford “The 232 Roadster”; Carter Cook who was driving Mr. Dick DeLuna’s 1934 Ford “606c Salinas Special”; Drew Garban who was driving the Rolling Bones 1932 “575” while his car is being built.
While Jon, Carter and Drew made as many runs down the sand on day one as possible Ken took one for the team and stayed in the spectator area to meet the fans and sell copies of the Rolling Bones book the Book of GOW. There were huge smiles all around, racers and spectators alike, and the sights and sounds of vintage racing had me smiling like a crazy man all day long.
Day two of TROG was a big one for the Rolling Bones as Ken was tasked with setting up and running the bracket races. To say that the people racing at TROG were competitive would be an understatement. To make a long story short the Rolling Bones cars made a beautiful showing of themselves ultimately with Carter driving Mr. DeLuna’s coupe to win in the V8 class. It was a glorious day all around.
ROLLING BACK TO NEW YORK
I can’t speak for everyone else but after three days of racing, heat, sun and sand I was exhausted. Knowing that we still had the ride back to the Barn was just icing on the cake on a week that I had looked forward to for a long time. For the trip back I rode with Ken so that I could get some shots of Jon’s car as we travelled north. One thing I can say about Ken, he LOVES this stuff. When we were on the New Jersey turnpike every time we would come through the toll booth you knew that on the other side, he was going to hit that gas pedal hard and let that Y-Block powered piece of art show you just what it was built for. Each time I would look over and see Ken with a grin on his normally very controlled face as his inner 19-year-old self-celebrated the joys of wheels, steel and speed.
So, what do I remember most from this adventure? That’s a tough question and I’m sure that the answer will vary as time passes. Spending time with the guys that call themselves the Rolling Bones was a pleasure. People like this are what this world needs more of. People with skills, talent and a point of view that they live for. While they are well known for what they do they haven’t fallen into the traps of “success” but remain welcoming, honest and true to themselves. To the other members of the Rolling Bones family, the people lucky enough to own a Rolling Bones built hot rod and the others of us that also love this stuff as much as they do that have been welcomed into the clan, thank you all for your kindness, your warm welcome and the memories that I’ll have for a lifetime.