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.

15 responses to “Reader Photos: William Goldman’s 1958 Put In Bay Races”

  1. Mike Jacobsen says:

    Wow! Looks like that MG A made solid arboreal contact! I especially like the little pic of the etceterini, including Otto Linton’s OSCA (?) chasing an old pick up truck–could that be the pace car?

  2. Del Lance says:

    I can verify that the last photo is of the 1958 race, Turn 4 to be exact. In the photo I’m the one driving the red MGA sans grill and bumper.

  3. Del Lance says:

    I can verify that the last photo is of the 1958 race, I’m in the red MGA sans grill and bumper.

  4. […] only did Del point out his #85FP MGA that ran in the F-Production race in the photos that William Goldman shot of the 1958 Put In Bay Road Races (that’s him with the front-row view of the crash into […]

  5. Manley Ford says:

    Really great of Brian to post some of his dad’s great photos here.
    To Del Lance: I have a copy of the ’58 entry list and note you were from Dearborn, MI back then. Sure would be great to have you come back to the 2012 Put-in-Bay Road Race Reunion Sept. 20-22, 2012 and share your stories.
    To the question about the Morris Minor Pickup from Mike Jacobsen. I’m assured by Otto’s son Roger (who is the website manager for the PIBRRR) that Otto never raced at PIB. The pickup (yes it was racing in G Modified, and was not a pace car) was driven by Bob Lossman of Rocky River (and owner of MG Motor Sales and Lossman Motors in Cleveland) . Behind him is a G Modified Elva Mk III driven by Willam Bradley of Detroit. Musta been one cookin’ Morris Minor!

  6. Edward B. Eichenlaub says:

    Somewhere in this collection is a picture of my Porsche carrera GT speedster.
    I won that race in 1958. The silver Bandini just at the right is my brother Jim Eichenlaub.

  7. Manley Ford says:

    Indeed you did win the F Production race later in the day (if I knew how, I’d post another photo of you and #117 Porsche Speedster coming out of turn 6 onto Delaware Street). That day you bested a gaggle of Porsches, several outclassed MGAs and one Volvo 544. 2nd place went to Stephen Wilder of NYC in a Porsche Super. As I offered to Del Lance, we of the Put-in-Bay Road Race Reunion Heritage Society (see cordially invite you to participate in our 2012 event. Don’t miss the growing section of the PIBRRR web site under “events” where new content is being added regularly from the 2011 event where several of your contemporaries shared some great memories of racing at Put-in-Bay.
    Don’t miss the video.

  8. […] few weeks ago, I wrote a post about a set of photos that reader Brian Goldman sent in of the Put-in-Bay races. The comments, though, are why I love the […]

  9. Harlo says:

    Thanks everyone for the great conversation here. Manley emailed me the photo of Ed’s winning run that he mentioned. I thought that deserved a spotlight, you can see it as part of a new post here.

  10. Sandy Boyette says:

    can you anyone provide me with any racing info or pictures on a William (Bill) Pickrel? He would have raced in the late 50’s (58-59). I am his guardian and am looking for pictures or info on him. He is from Ohio

    • Joshua Olinger says:

      My grandfather David Olinger went to Put In Bay back in ’58. I converted some slides to an SD card recently and had a few images of Put In Bay along with an image of who I believe to be Bill Pickrel, it was dated June 7th, 1958. I can email you some images directly. I hope this information is of some use. How do I post any images…? In total I have fifteen images at about 33.8 Megabytes total.

  11. Manley Ford says:

    I was able to provide Sandy a handful of photos of Bill Pickrel racing at Put-in-Bay in his Berkeley. And Chicane friend Kurt Niemeyer is arranging thru Sandy to spend some time with Bill Pickrel and capture some of his memories of what it was like to compete at PIB back in the ’50s.

  12. Harlo says:

    This is fantastic, Manley. Thanks for letting the rest of us know, bringing people together like this through The Chicane is one of my main motivations for doing it so I love hearing about these connections.

    Wonderful that you were able to do this for Sandy and Bill.

  13. […] from the Goldman Archives: Put-In-Bay and the Davis Field […]

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