The Race Of Gentlemen 2016

Summer has officially arrived, and with the season comes all sorts of outdoor get togethers and events to attend – have some fun and score some vitamin d while your at it, right?

I’ll get looks (not good ones!) for the admission but…I’m not a huge beach person.  What I mean but that is, I won’t spend the day there doing zero no matter how much fun it is to everyone else.  Slathering myself in oils to lay there and cook like a chicken doesn’t work for me…  But! . . . I do love being outside, being active, and doing something exciting.  

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This year, I had to good fortune to attend the Race Of Gentlemen in Wildwood, New Jersey, as part of the American Hot Rod Foundation crew.  One of the best parts was that my fiancé came along with me – how awesome to have him be a part of something my family is passionate about, and to have him meet the gang. ❤

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“AHRF” began back in 2002 in the hopes of preserving and promoting hot rod history. The founders recognized the dire need to document the pioneers of the hot rod movement, as many of them (at that time) were approaching (if not already in) their 80s and older.  The risk of losing the precious history and first-hand stories was far to great to do nothing about it – and so the Foundation was born.

We have sadly lost many of these pioneers in the last decade, but with over 100,000 photos (most of them also digitized by AHRF), 350 hours of original footage, and countless hours of audio, AHRF hopes to keep them – and their incredible contributions – alive.  

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The word “history” may seem dry – I can’t say that I loved most “history” as a student back in the day either.  But then the reality is that many of the kids today – generations removed from the pioneers in some cases – are endeavoring to be exactly what those guys were.  So learning the history gets them that much closer – it explains not only the birth of certain ideas, but the inspirations and innovations that may have led to them via, of course, the words from the men themselves.

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There are TONS of events each year, but we always try to hit the larger ones – Grand National Roadster Show, L.A. Roadster Show, and Hot Rod Reunion, for example.  We love having a presence when we are able – it gives us a nice landing spot to set up, talk to the awesome crowd, and (hopefully) infect a few more with the history of it all!

The Race Of Gentlemen was holding its fifth event in Wildwood this year, so while it definitely has amped up, it isn’t as overwhelming or enormous as others.  The benefit is that you can catch up with the people you are hoping to see, and have enough face to face with those who might have questions.  You can also get much closer to the races than you can at other shindigs (at the Roadster Show, you are often higher up in the stands – here, you were atop a mound of sand in a crowd, but pretty darn close.)

One of the key reasons TROG stands out is that it is run on the beach.  Literally.  The racers gear up and blast down the sand dragway, adding a whole other element to the (incredibly friendly) competition.  Of course, sand isn’t quite as quick and slick, but it’s certainly a lot of fun.

The community is one of the reasons I love hot rod events – super down to earth, interested, enthusiastic…respectful.  How about this trash can at the parking lot party the night before?!  Nary a bottle or can on the ground.  🙂

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It’s a great group to be around, and of course there is ALL sorts of amazing eye candy.  The innovations and creativity that go into the vehicles – bikes and autos alike – is something to behold, and always cool to hear about.

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I’m so thankful I had the opportunity to attend, but also to have been introduced to this crowd some years ago by my father.  It’s always a good time, and being outside on a breezy summer day made it especially awesome.  The rain held off the second day too – knowing, I think, that everyone was having so much fun.

 

Practice, Practice, Practice

I recently moved to a new City – one I know nothing about.  Having lived in the same “home town” for three and a half decades, it definitely takes adjusting.  

Sometimes you say “I’m moving” and people assume it’s a piece of cake, it’s just around the corner, or that it only involves your “stuff.”  (Did you ever see the George Carlin bit about “stuff?” It will have you in stitches whether you’re moving or staying put – fair forewarning, he doesn’t censor particularly!)

But no, it isn’t just about the physical aspects – a new location, a new living space, or new furnishings – which would be far less daunting.  In most cases, moving involves fully uprooting all your reference checkpoints.

One of those reference points for me has been my Martial Arts – I have studied Taekwondo for some years now, along with Hapkido and Kumdo as adjunct disciplines (I’d love to have delved more deeply into those as well, Hapkido in particular, but as an adult, time is a huge factor.  Our resources are also more limited!)  I had the blessing to be taken under my Grand Master’s wing, on a regular schedule, and what he wanted to focus on, we focused on!    

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Despite two devastating injuries – both to my knees – I have continued with my study…not surprisingly, to the chagrin of my loved ones.  In any sport (at least in my own mind) injuries are par for the course – I aim to be as safe as possible, but I have absolutely, out of necessity, toned it down.  To give it up completely, however, was simply not an option – I devoted myself to regular classes, and stretching and practice on my own time irregardless.

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I am still preparing for my next promotion, sometime in the next few weeks in my original home town.   I no longer have my class, my Grand Master, my peers, nor my familiar surroundings with which to continue on this path, but I HAVE to practice, lest I lose my form, memory, flexibility, or skill – these are, without question, a use-it-or-lose-it deal.

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I am eager to reach this benchmark as it has been a long-standing goal.  My move, however, came at a time of great transition for me…far too great to enumerate without launching into a novella!  It’s been a whirlwind of “wonderful”…but even wonderful can be overwhelming.

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Had I not been prepared to participate in the coming promotion, the next step would have been to find a new Art in which to achieve.  One could continue with Taekwondo, reaching far beyond 2nd Degree (my Grand Master is a 9th), but there is an overwhelming feeling of “change” to 2015.  The year has already blessed me with many changes, all of which have been positive. ❤  

Martial Arts is known for its roots in, and focus on, discipline. In my view, discipline is the backbone of the Arts, tempering the sometimes volatile and emotional nature of human beings, and grounding us solidly in what truly matters.  

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Given my circumstance, this means holding off on moving forward until my goal is reached.  Some people might jump into a new Art during the grace period, particularly having moved to a new City without a school branch, or familiar Dojang – new start, after all.  For me personally, though, rushing into a new Art feels foolish – I prefer to focus, stay loyal, and do the best I can, new training circumstances notwithstanding.

I found a room today at my new gym with a ton of heavy bags…and I lit up.  Flexibility is one of the first things to go, so stretching and maintaining my kicks is incredibly important.  I am not in the Arts to “fight,” I should interject.  As I have mentioned in other posts, Martial Arts is so much more for me – it is a dance, albeit a deadly one.

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We still don’t have a set date (which would possibly unnerve any of the students – and it is!), but I am doing my best to review what I know on my own.  My Grand Master always made a point to say it takes “character” to practice solo, and the sentiment extends to many aspects of our person – our morals, our discipline, our determination, our passion…  We need to stay hungry, especially when we are faced with change.

When everything around you turns upside-down, there is a way to stay centered.  It doesn’t mean you won’t be frazzled in the process, but it gives you something familiar to embrace mentally, spiritually, physically.

It is that “something” you can take with you no matter where you go…in Life, or in the World.  

Your spirit is ever-present, and stronger and more equipped than you may imagine.  Trust your memory, work hard, stay hungry…stay grounded.  In many ways, in a century of massive change, that really is all we CAN do.

I’m okay with that.  I’ll be in the back room going through my forms. 

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#NOMERCY, Nitromethane Drag Race shirt – says it all!