Put-in-Bay Sports Car Races Report & Photo Gallery
The 2019 Put-in-Bay vintage sports car races (held September 24-27) continued to earn enthusiastic praise for the event’s renowned atmosphere where enjoyment is the primary goal, “laid back” is the desired attitude, and the racing is expected to be competitive but respectful.
The event takes place—where it began with a very small reunion event in 2009 —on Ohio’s historic South Bass Island where sports cars raced through the public streets from 1952 to 1959 and one “last time” in 1963.
Unique in vintage racing for inviting both racing- and non-racing entries, the Put-in-Bay Sports Car Races continued to draw a wide variety of vintage production cars, sports racers, and open wheel cars. This year, approximately 140 entrants hailed from 17 U.S. states and Ontario, Canada.
Two days of racing took place around the twisty but fast 1.2-mile, haybale lined circuit at the Put-in-Bay airport. Adding to the fun of this year’s 10th Anniversary event was a special race for “Tin Top” sedans, which attracted everything from buzzy sub-1-liter European offerings to a trio of thundering 5-liter American iron.
In addition to the Tin Top race, there were four race groups plus an exhibition group. All racers received plenty of track time leading up to the event’s final race where the top finishing closed-wheel cars from the various groups are invited to compete for the “Put-in-Bay Cup.” This year the honors went to Sam Halkias of Westerville, OH in his Triumph TR6.
Besides the on-track action, participants enjoy numerous other “traditions” during the nearly four days of activity that contribute to making the Put-in-Bay Sports Car Races more like an annual reunion of friends, or as one entrant recently described it: “The Holy Grail of old school vintage racing.” These include:
A popular-vote car show for all entered cars;
Tour laps of the 1950s era 3.1 mile street course;
A wine and cheese reception and open mic session with invited guest (this year John Payne whose father, Tom Payne, began his successful racing career at PIB in the ‘50s, shared his memories);
A luncheon for non-racing significant others and supporters;
Highly entertaining and incredibly competitive “rocker cover” races;
A post-racing buffet dinner and awards program
2020 Put-in-Bay dates are now set for September 29-October 2 with racing on Wednesday September 30 and Thursday October 1, 2020. Building on the enthusiastic response from this year’s Tin-Top feature race, organizers are opening the gates to all eligible Saabs and VW powered cars and inviting back Turners whose North American Reunion has been part of several previous PIB events.
The Put-in-Bay vintage sports car races generally welcome drivers of vintage race prepared pre-1973 production cars up to 3 liters, sports racers up to 2 liters, Formula Vees, Formula Jrs. and Formula Fords, but exceptions for larger bore cars (such as the invited V8 sedans in this year’s Tin Top feature race) have been made for significant cars that otherwise fit the age and preparation criteria. Non-racing street-car participants can also enter in the Heritage (pre-1964) or Guest Street Car (1964-1972) classes and post ’72 street cars are considered on a case by case basis.