- Written by webmin
Ever since organizers of the Put-in-Bay Road Races Reunion began gathering vintage race cars on the Lake Erie islands two years ago, they’ve always had it in the back of their minds to bring actual vintage racing to the site of one of America’s least-known road racing events. This year’s reunion brings them closer to that goal.
The third annual reunion, which will take place June 27-29, will add two new events to the reminiscing that has marked the previous get-togethers: First are the solo speed trials open to any period vehicles of 2.0 liters or less displacement, to be held at the South Bass Island airport; second will be a dry run of a full race course set up at the airport to test the feasibility of a full-blown vintage race during the 2012 reunion.
“We did minimal speed trials last year to prove that we can behave ourselves, and we hope that as long as we make a good show for the mock races at the airport, then we stand a very good chance of running them for real next year,” said Manley Ford, one of the organizers of the reunion. The largest expense for the airport races would be transporting and setting up the requisite Jersey barriers: “They don’t have too many Jersey barriers on the island, so we’d have to ferry them in.”
From 1952 to 1959, the Cleveland Sports Car Club and the Northeast Ohio region of the Sports Car Club of America held road races on the haybale-lined streets of South Bass Island, inviting local and regional amateurs to race their under-2.0-Liter production cars and under-1.5-Liter purpose-built racing cars. Some of the Put-in-Bay racers – including Carl Haas, Chuck and Sue Dietrich, and Chuck Stoddard – went on to put together significant racing careers.
The Detroit region of the SCCA held the last road race held on the island in 1963, but two members of the Sportscar Vintage Racing Association – Bob Williams and Jack Woehrle – organized the first Put-in-Bay Road Race Reunion in 2009 to commemorate the races and to bring together the people and cars that once raced on the island.
“Put-in-Bay is just one of two road race courses in the United States where the roads are exactly like they were in the 1950s,” Ford said. “But when Bob and Jack started the reunions, there were no visible markers or reminders of the races.” Aside from the speed trials and the dry run of the airport course, this year’s reunion will include escorted parade laps of the original road course, a car show, and the chance to speak with about half a dozen original road race drivers, including Stoddard and Sue Dietrich.
For more information and more vintage photos of the Put-in-Bay road races, visit PIBRoadRace.com.