Reader Photos: William Goldman’s 1958 Put In Bay Races
Brian Goldman wrote in with this outstanding collection of slides that his father, William Goldman, shot at Ohio’s Put In Bay Races. From the racing numbers and drivers, it looks to me like the 1958 running of the races. While, William’s photos may have been of different subjects if there were larger classes on the island (Put In Bay didn’t offer a class of races above 2 liters), I’m going to just assume that he shared my taste in the small-bore production and modified classes between 500-1000 cc’s that dominate these photos. I know the big boys usually get all the interest and glory, but these small light racers are, for me, the very essence of sports car engineering and design.
Those small racers must have also been ideal for cramming onto the ferry that would take racers each June between 1952 & 1959 (and again in ’63) to Put In Bay, the small island in Lake Erie not far from Toledo. I can only imagine the fun that must have been had on that small island each summer, with drivers arriving from all over the Midwest, and some from as far as Mississippi. Gathering each summer on Erie for a weekend of racing must have been like the little brother of Bahamas Speed Week. Perhaps I’m overstating things a bit in my comparison of Lake Erie to the Caribbean, but I’m sure it was an absolute blast.
Another interesting aspect of the races—perhaps because it was for smaller classes—was pointed out in Sports Car Illustrated’s coverage of the ’58 event: It attracted a large number of young drivers. Of the hundred or so entries in the 1958 event, over half were first-time racers. I can only imagine the terror that a pack of novice racers would inspire in any event insurance adjuster. This casual spirit of the event was even noteworthy at the time, prompting comparisons to the ‘good old days’ of round-the-house racing of the early 1950’s. Good to know that vintage racing nostalgia is nothing new.
Perhaps my favorite expression of the informality of the old community-hosted city street event is this line, again from Sports Car Illustrated’s coverage. “The crowd had complete freedom to watch the race from any vantage point they wished, and though none of the cars were running on alcohol many of the spectators were.” Quality writing there from SCI’s Len Griffing, who was part of an SCI team running a Porsche at the event.
More information—including race results and scans of period articles on the races—at PIB Road Race, which serves as a hub for the enthusiastic community that both remembers the past races and organizes reunions and competitions on the island today.
More photos from the William Goldman archive here. Thanks again for these, Brian!
Keep digging photos out of the basement, everyone. And let us know about them, we’d love to share them with the rest of the community.