8mm movie camera
Race start on Delaware Street, circa 1959
In a stroke of good auction fortune, Alina and Steven Nemec came across an original 8mm film they believe captures scenes from the 1959 Put-in-Bay Road Race. The Nemecs are well-known for discovering, sharing, and promoting the historical legacies of the Bass Islands in Lake Erie.
Robert J. Dodge, in Isolated Splendor (Exposition Press, 1975), writes
Various makes and sizes of sports cars competed in the races. A few of the well-known makes entered were the English M.G., Siata, Lotus, Saab, Fiat-Abarth, Sprite, Turner, Morris, Elva, Porsche, Lester, Morgan, Triumph, and Arnolt-Bristol. Entries were limited to one hundred cars in this the last remaining, true, United States road race in which the racers sped over regular streets through inhabited areas . . . An estimated 15,000 people attended the 1959 race.
For a thorough history of the road races held on South Bass Island, see The Put-In-Bay Road Races, 1952-1963 by Carl Goodwin. Current information about the resurrection of road racing at Put-in-Bay is available via the Put-in-Bay Road Race Heritage Society.