The 2022 TROG Flabob Airport Drags
It had been three years since The Race of Gentlemen (TROG) held an event in California. The 2019 Santa Barbara Drags was a huge hit and left the West Coast hot rodders begging for more. Thankfully, TROG founder Mel Stultz never gave up on his dream of bringing his unique brand of racing back to Southern California, the birthplace of hot rodding.
The TROG Flabob Airport Drags was held December 9-10, 2022 at Flabob Airport in Jurupa Valley, about 60 miles east of Los Angeles. The airport is a hidden gem, and its 1960s vibe created the perfect backdrop for an old school drag race: vintage aircraft, old hangars, palm trees — Hollywood couldn’t have scripted it any better.
TROG events are a throwback to the early days of hot rodding. All cars have to be period correct, American made, 1934 and earlier, powered by a 4-cylinder or V8 flathead engine, and run vintage speed equipment. The race also featured motorcycles manufactured before 1957 and stripped down for racing just like they would have been back in the ’50s.
The TROG Flabob Airport Drags drew more than 100 competitors from all across the country. Some race cars were built specifically for the event, and others had tons of history or a story all their own. One story was that of the Taco Coupe (519 car below), a 1934 Ford that was built by students from Dayton High School in Oregon. They resurrected a car that had been destroyed in a fire and crushed in just 60 days with one goal in mind, to race at the TROG Flabob Airport Drags.
As fate would have it, they matched up with the historic Omaha Coupe on their first pass. Tom Secora brought the famous 1933 Ford with a wicked chop out from Nebraska. The coupe raced at the 1955 Nationals in Great Bend, Kansas, as well as on the Bonneville Salt Flats in the 1950s. It was quite an honor for both participants.
The action was nonstop until the sun went down. There were no classes or elimination ladders, so the participants could make as many runs as they wanted. It was how drag racing used to be: two cars pull to the line, the drivers nod their heads to signal they are ready, the flag starter jumps into the air, the drivers each pop the clutch, and the cars screech off the starting line.
Several racers wore open-faced helmets, vintage racing goggles, car club jackets, and vintage T-shirts that added to the historic feel of the event. Hot rods, ’30s coupes, jalopies, and a couple of rails were all burning rubber, racing side by side with rock and roll blaring through the speakers. Motorcycles raced two, four, even six wide, and everyone had a good time. That’s Stultz’s style, and the crowd loved every minute of it.
But there was more to the TROG Flabob Airport Drags than just drag racing. There was also a car show for pre-1960s traditional hot rods and customs, a swap meet, bands, food trucks, and more.
As the sun began to set, the last pair of cars raced down the track. Those in attendance knew they had witnessed something special and wondered if they would ever have this opportunity again. Then, just days after the event, Stultz posted a note on The Race of Gentlemen Instagram page that said, “Who’s ready??? We are. Spring 2023???”
We can’t wait.
2022 TROG Flabob Airport Drags Photo Extra!
Photos by Marc Gewertz