Put-in-Bay Road Race Heritage Society

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In the early Fifties America was discovering Sports Car racing with European style road races being held on public roads. Best remembered are Watkins Glen, Elkhart Lake and Bridgehampton, but the last to be used was the 3.1 mile course at Put-in-Bay. The first race was held in 1952 and because of the narrow, bumpy, twisty roads entrants were limited to under 2 liters or if modified under 1.5 liters.

About twenty cars showed up for the first race,  but by the time insurance and safety regulations forced it’s closure after the 1959 race a limit of 100 cars had been imposed and they were turning cars away. The event contributed so much to the local economy that an attempt was made to resurrect it in 1963 using a shortened course outside the Village boundaries.  However, a spectacular crash when a dog ran out in front of an Elva put an end to the event for good.

While the event is now part of Motorsport History, the memories linger on. On June 2, 1990, the 31st anniversary of the races, a MG "T" series reunion was held which kindled memories of the glory days gone by. In 1995 several active vintage racers asked the question of whether racing could ever be done at Put-In-Bay again. Several meetings were held with town folks and officials and it was obvious that Put-In-Bay would welcome the racers back. However, it also became apparent that it would cost a lot of money which no one wanted to spend. The idea languished for the next ten or so years, but never died. In 2008 a group of Vintage Racers journeyed to Put-In-Bay and met with the Mayor who once again was enthusiastic about a possible race. They talked to several town residents who also remembered the good old days when those little cars were in town. However, after a proper safety evaluation of the old course, which is pretty much as it was in the day, it was apparent that to make the track even moderately race worthy, you would have to totally destroy the character of the circuit.

However, given the success of the Festivals at Watkins Glen and Elkhart Lake where the fans can appreciate the history and tour the original circuits it was decided to run a trial event for 2009. Given the lack of promotion and the low key nature of the event, all involved were pleased with a turnout of 35 cars, some belonging to the islanders. There were touring laps of the original circuit and photo "ops" at some of the historic corners, such as "cemetery corner". A start/finish line was painted at the location of the original. The ribbon cutting to mark the official opening of the celebration was performed by Chris Kintner, grandson of the founder and Art Brow, a participant of the inaugural 1952 event. In the interviews with residents and former drivers that followed there was great enthusiasm for continuing the event. Among the goals for going forward is to institute a fund raising campaign to erect commemorative plaques at key points along the original route. One former competitor said he still has two of the original cars and would bring them out next year. A spectator, eight years old, when he first saw the races, journeyed from Texas just to be part of the event.

Given the warm welcome and enthusiasm of not only the Islanders, but former competitors and spectators with long memories of the old days, it was an easy decision to start planning an Put-in-Bay Reunion for 2010. It should be a blast, don’t miss it.

Put-in-Bay Road Race Reunions

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The PIB Course Marker Project

Start Finish Marker

Start/Finish Marker

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PIB Turn 1 Marker

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PIB Turn 4 Marker

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PIB Turn 5 Marker


Past Posters by Bob Colaizzi

Bob Colaizzi, infamous vintage racer and talented artist, has contributed PIBRRR posters each year since 2010.

2017 Poster

PIB 2016 6 4 FINAL FlatSM

PIB poster 2015 small

 RSK-comp-flat-w logo




©PIB Road Race Hertiage Society 2013