B-24—yes, the WWII vintage bomber—fly overhead. That’s not something you see every day. So I called my brother Rob who knows about these things and he told me that it had to be from the Commemorative Air Force and I should look at its web site to find out what the deal was. A quick trip to the interwebs told me that the B-24 was spending a few days at the Cape May County Airport, otherwise known as the former Wildwood Naval Air station. I decided to head over there that very afternoon.
The B-24 and its cousin, a B-17, were parked on the tarmac outside the hanger that houses the Naval Air Station Wildwood Museum. The bombers’ friend, a P-51 Mustang, was also part of the exhibition, but it was undergoing some “procedure” so it wasn’t available for my viewing pleasure. You could ride in all the planes, too. That, however, was not for the faint of wallet. The fare was $450 for a thirty minute ride on the B-17 or B-24 and $3,200 in the P-51. Yeah, I passed. But I did think about it.
|They need to tell people not to smoke in the bomb bay?
|No one told me that Tom of Finland did US Navy Recruiting posters.
|Nothing makes a better backdrop for a jazz combo than an old German V-2 rocket.
|Some think that had James A. Garfield been treated in an airplane hanger in New Jersey, he'd be alive today.
|Interestingly enough, this was not the logo on the back of my mother's Studebaker.
The Wildwoods (as in North Wildwood, Wildwood, West Wildwood and Wildwood Crest) are just across Hereford Inlet from Stone Harbor but they might as well be a million miles away. My grandparents started going to the Jersey shore in the 1930s and my mother told me even then Wildwood was “pretty rough”. If your favorite dying northeastern city had a few miles of nice beach next to its downtown, that would be Wildwood.
|Frankie Avalon buys a Kohr Brothers ice cream cone in Wildwood back in the day.
|Interestingly enough, they don't sell these bumper stickers at Nuns' Beach.
There are lots of shops selling things that make you scratch your head and say to yourself “Who buys this stuff?”
|I think this guy is the mascot for the Oiler's Car Club.
|Kinda makes me want to take up surfing.
There were half sheet pans under cars and motorcycles everywhere. Apparently the racing gentlemen were concerned about keeping dripping engine fluids off the beach.
|Trust me, it was just coffee.
|They really went all out with the potato chip display.
|A nice old Mercury at the doo-wop WaWa.
My friends and I said to ourselves that we’d come back at 7:00 am the next day--when the tide was out-- to see the racing. Big surprise: that didn't happen. But I think we all believed we would when we said it.
I hope the Race of Gentlemen returns to Wildwood next year and isn't just motor racing's version of Brigadoon, fading into the ocean mists (and a cloud of exhaust smoke) off an improbable spot at the Jersey Shore.
For more info on the Race of Gentlemen, check out this New York Times article: Race of Gentlemen Looks Back to Simpler Time
And this great video on Vimeo-- Race of the Gentlemen