PUT-IN-BAY – This year’s version of the Put-in-Bay Sports Car Races held recently on South Bass Island in ideal weather conditions was a big success for the unique event. Beginning in 2009 with a small reunion celebrating the original ‘50s era races at Put-in-Bay on South Bass Island, vintage sports car races have been held there annually by the Put-in-Bay Road Race Heritage Society since 2012, except the 2020 COVID year.
This year, the featured marque wasn’t one marque, but rather all Japanese marques. That emphasis brought out a record number of Datsuns (especially 510s).
Thanks in part to promotional efforts by Datsun wonks Steven and Chris Bonk, the event brought out several BMW sedans and other brands that collectively made up the event’s Trans Am BC&D Sedan Challenge race.
Dubbed by one enthusiast as “the Holy Grail of Old-School Vintage Racing,” here are a few things that make the Put-in-Bay event unique:
The event “presented” by the NOCO company of Cleveland offered entry options for vintage sports car racers in several classes, including “Exhibition.” The owners of non-racing cars can also enter and have almost as much fun as the racers.
Racing took place on the island’s airport on a challenging and competitive 1.2-mile hay-bale lined course which rewards precise braking and nimble handling on a pristinely maintained surface that offers numerous passing opportunities, and varieties of racing lines.
Besides two days of racing, there is also an all-entrants car show, with police-escorted tour laps of the original, 1950’s era 3.1-mile road course, social gatherings and the highly competitive and entertaining “rocker cover races.”
Car Show results were: Best Race Car — Kevin Maehling, Porsche 911 E; Best In Show (And Best Street Car) — Dick Snyder – Porsche 356 Convertible; Best “Island” Entry — Mark Friebel, Former Fire Truck conversion; Put-in-Bay Cup Winner — Bryan Lingruen, 1987 BMW 325is.