Start Your Engines, Wildwood Car and Truck Events Are Back

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WILDWOOD — Motorheads, gearheads and monster truck aficionados looking to inhale the smell of exhaust while watching giant tires crawl across the beach and up man-made mounds of sand were left idling when the Boardwalk Classic Car Show, Thunder on the Beach monster truck competition and Thunder in the Sand motocross events planned for late September and early October were canceled Tue. Aug. 7.

For awhile it looked like the only car sound wafting across the city’s sandy beaches this fall would be the gentle reminder to “Watch the tramcar, please,” until the Greater Wildwood Hotel and Motel Association (GWHMA), Greater Wildwoods Tourism Improvement and Development Authority (GWTIDA) and the city came to the rescue to jumpstart the stalled events.

New Jersey Thunder Motorsports, the Sewell-based company that runs motor sport events on the city’s beaches informed event participants in a email “due to the differences between the corporation and the City of Wildwood and other circumstances,” the fall events were canceled.

“We haven’t canceled or reneged on anything,” City Administrator Christopher Wood told the Herald. “They have chosen to pull the plug.”

According to Wood money is owed to the city for two years’ rent. The money, totaling almost $33,000 has been put into an escrow account under the direction of a previous administration.

At issue, too, is $12,000 owed the city from a beach event held by the company earlier this year. “It was a camping on the beach event,” said Wood. “We billed them for it.”

“We are truly sorry that we were unable to put on these events and we hope that in the future that we are able to resume schedules of our various events and our monster truck rides,” said Alan Myers of New Jersey Motor Sports.

The cancellation of the events came as a surprise to the city as well as to local business owners.

“I had no idea. There had been a little rough edges in us dealing with each other but nothing that said ‘I’m pulling the plug,’” said Wood.

“It was devastating,” said Gary McGhee, GWHMA Executive Director. “It hit us blind.”

With a history that spans more than 20 years, losing the car shows would have put a dent in the city’s economy. The automotive events draw huge crowds to this seashore community during the weeks between Labor Day and Halloween.

“Car clubs were calling, canceling 20 rooms at this hotel, 30 at another, 12, 6…” said McGhee,. “The phones were lighting up and motel owners were saying ‘Hey! What’s going on?’ People were wanting their money back and once we found out what was going on, I had to get our board together. We had to come up with a plan. We could not let those events go to the wayside and lose the millions of dollars of revenue it brings to the island.”

McGhee said the association has more than 300 members. “We had a conversation and tried to fix it.”

Members of GWHMA and GWTIDA met with city officials to discuss the feasibility of the three entities partnering to bring the three events back to the city’s beaches.
Mayor Ernest Troiano said the city was very happy to team up with GWTIDA and GHWMA to “deliver these very popular events. The City of Wildwood appreciated the cooperation of all those involved in the planning process. We pooled our resources to make sure that these shows will go on as planned.”

The classic car auction and car show will take place Sept. 20 – 23 and the renamed Beach Monster Mash will take place Sept. 28 – 30. Plans are being finalized to bring the motorcross event to the beach.

“I’ve reached out to some people,” said McGhee referring to the motorcross event. Our goal is to do the events that were done before.”

“Wildwood has a new comprehensive plan for better utilizing our fantastic beach,” said Commissioner Peter Byron. “We want to make the beach an even greater attraction for both residents and tourists.”

“This is not something we planned on doing,” said McGhee. “But we are going to lead and run with it to save the economy for the entire island.”

For information regarding the events, contact GWHMA at 609-522-4546 or by email at info@wildwoods.org.