Still Racing at 40: What’s on Tap for This Year’s Pittsburgh Vintage Grand Prix

There’s a full schedule of events — and two big homecomings planned for the annual July event.
51558897802 6a0010fd8b O

PHOTOS BY BILL STOLER

Among its adherents, vintage-car racing is known as a gentlemen’s sport, focused less on competition and victory than sportsmanship and honor. The Pittsburgh Vintage Grand Prix, which, with this year’s race, will celebrate its 40th anniversary, has made the sport’s friendly nature a focus, as drivers showcase their vintage cars on the rolling course. Racers steer cars dating as far back as the 1930s and ’40s around a carefully laid-out track — but neither the cars nor the drivers are pushed to their fullest.

The event, hosted by the Pittsburgh Automobile Dealers Foundation, will run for 10 days, from July 15 to 24 (see opposite for a full schedule of events). The charity event has raised $6.26 million in its 39 years, with proceeds going to The Autism Society of Pittsburgh and the Merakey Allegheny Valley School since 1983.

51560613970 40858c6187 O

As always, area streets will serve as tracks for the main event, held on the gentle curves of Schenley Park. There’s an entry fee to participate, though the organization is also always open to having volunteers who can help with various jobs around the events.

“We’re looking for folks to come and, as we say, join our pit crew — to really get involved in the racing part of it,” says Dan DelBianco, the PVGP’s executive director since 2003. “Some people really take their volunteer role seriously, and they’re back every year. We’ve got some that have actually been here all 40 years.”

51559926028 6ebb283abb O

The anniversary will be “a coming home,” according to DelBianco, referring to a pair of Pittsburgh natives involved this year: this year’s poster designer, Burton Morris, the famed pop artist whose work has been seen on NBC’s “Friends,” the Academy Awards and at the 2004 Summer Olympic Games; and Grand Marshal Ray Shaffer, the Porsche Classic Market development manager at Porsche Cars North America. Shaffer’s journey to Porsche began when he developed an interest in vintage cars at the 1986 Vintage Grand Prix.

While the event began with just a single race, more events have been added steadily over the years — building up to the modern, 10-day extravaganza. There are a variety of events being held over those 10 days, some for dedicated vintage-car aficionados and some for families and more casual spectators.

This and every year, the point, DelBianco says, is to have fun with some remarkable cars.

“It takes an incredible amount of money to … turn these Pittsburgh streets into a racetrack, so it’s a purely amateur sport,” he says. “First place gets a checkered flag and a case of Helltown beer, and that’s it. There’s no prize money; there are no points. It’s really just a wonderful amateur sport.”

51560382689 E801b4793b O

EVENT SCHEDULE

July 10
Kick-Off Rallye
Dual Devils Garage, Houston, Pa.

July 14-17
PVGP Historics Races
Pittsburgh International Race Complex

July 15
Black Tie & Tailpipes Gala
Grand Concourse, Station Square

July 18
Invitational Car Show
Walnut Street, Shadyside

July 19
Waterfront Car Cruise
The Waterfront, East Homestead

July 20
Downtown Car Display
PPG Place, Market Square & U.S. Steel Tower Plaza, Downtown

Grand Prix Tune-Up Party
SouthSide Works, South Side

July 21
Countryside Tour
Jamison Farms, Westmoreland County

Jet Center Party
Pittsburgh-Butler Regional Airport,  Penn Township

July 22
Forbes Avenue of Speed
Parade from Schenley Park to Forbes Avenue in Squirrel Hill

July 23-24
International Car Show
Schenley Park, Oakland

July 23
Vintage Race Practice & Qualifying Heats
Schenley Park, Oakland

July 24
Schenley Park Race Day
Schenley Park, Oakland

Categories: Hot Reads, Things To Do