Pittsburgh Vintage Grand Prix events
9 a.m.-5 p.m. July 6-8,
PVGP Historics at Pitt Race
In its 15th year, the PVGP Historics races at Pittsburgh International Race Complex in Wampum Admission: $20 per day or $30 for the weekend; kids under 12 are free.
5-9 p.m. July 9,
Shadyside Invitational Car Show
Held on Walnut Street in Shadyside, this display of rare, classic and exotic cars is by invitation only. The event is free to spectators.
4-9 p.m. July 10,
Waterfront Car Cruise
This car show held at the Waterfront shopping area in Homestead is open to all vehicle makes and years for a suggested $5 donation to the charities.
10:30 a.m.-2 p.m. July 11,
Downtown Parade & Car Display
Up to 100 race and show cars will be featured from Station Square into downtown Pittsburgh as they parade their way to car displays at U.S. Steel Plaza, PPG Place and Market Square. Free for spectators.
6-9 p.m. July 11,
PVGP Tune-Up Party
For ages 21 and up, the Grand Prix's annual Tune-Up Party moves to Heinz Field this year and features a display of historic and vintage race cars. Cost is $50 per person and includes heavy hors d'oeuvres served in the PNC Champions Club plus $25 to reserve Car Showcase parking.
10 a.m.-3 p.m. July 12,
For owners/drivers of vintage cars (1983 and older), a tour of the Laurel Highlands countryside and lunch hosted by The Coventry Inn in downtown Indiana. Registration in advance is $75.
6-10 p.m. July 12,
“Passport to Elegance”
Jet Center Party
Held in the 18,000-square-foot hangar of the Voyager Jet Center at Allegheny County Airport. this exclusive party includes food and wine pairings, live music and displays of rare and exotic cars and airplanes. Tickets in advance are $375 each.
6:30-8:30 p.m. July 13,
Forbes Avenue of Speed Parade
Watch vintage race cars as they parade from the paddock at Schenley Park into Squirrel Hill and are displayed on Forbes Avenue between Shady and Murray Avenues. Free.
9:30 a.m.-5 p.m. July 14,
International Car Show
Classic, antique and exotic vehicles fill the Bob O'Connor Golf Course in Schenley Park while vintage racers compete on the track to qualify for Sunday's races. Free for spectators; entry fees for most car shows. Food courtyard and vendor village.
8:30 a.m.- 5 p.m. July 15,
Schenley Park Race Day
Vintage racing and car shows all day long, with warm-up and practice laps,
11 a.m. opening ceremonies and six featured vintage races.
The motorsport mania that takes place during the 10-day Pittsburgh Vintage Grand Prix is great fun for gear heads of all ages. For vintage race car drivers, it all comes down to the main event.
Schenley Park Race Day on July 15 is the culmination of months of preparation for drivers and pit crews that make sure the vintage cars are looking and performing their best — and for the volunteer team that donates countless hours to produce a world-class event to raise funds for PVGP’s two charities: the Pittsburgh Autism Society and Merakay Allegheny Valley School.
Behind the wheel
Drivers range from seasoned racers – like Rob Roost of Ligonier, whose father competed in vintage races in the 1970s and ’80s – to first-time participants like Greg Petro of Wexford, who recently got his racing license and will be competing in his first PVGP.
Roost will be entered in two races with his 1971 BMW 2002, one for his car’s class and a special race for the German-made BMWs, the event’s marque of the year. He says his dad will be on hand to help out.
Petro, who grew up in South Oakland and attended the University of Pittsburgh, says he followed the PVGP for years since its start in 1983 and he looked forward to someday being able to take part. His car, a 1963 British-built Turner in Shelby blue with Wembley white stripes, was built the same year he was born.
“It’s moving art for us,” Roost says. “If somebody needs something, everybody is willing to step in and help. That’s what makes vintage racing special.”
He says Schenley Park is a very unique and difficult race course. If drivers take a turn too quickly or steer off course on the 2.8 mile track, they can meet up with one of the road hazards – such as street signs, telephone poles, fire hydrants, catch basins and parking meters – in the only U.S. vintage races still run on city streets.
Leading up to race weekend will be car shows and special events at locations in and around Pittsburgh, including the PVGP Historics races at Pittsburgh International Race Complex in Wampum.
BMW Marque of the Year
As PVGP’s 2018 Marque of the Year, BMW and the BMW Car Club of America are bringing their 49th Annual O’Fest (Oktoberfest) to the PVGP. Hundreds of BMWs are expected with special events and celebration of the 50th anniversary of the iconic BMW 2002.
This year’s annual Tune-Up Party on July 11 moves from its previous location on the Roberto Clemente Bridge downtown to Heinz Field this year. The paid event for ages 21 and up will feature a display of historic and vintage race cars and hors d’oeuvres served in the PNC Champions Club.
‘Passport to Elegance’
The PVGP’s “Passport to Elegance” Jet Center Party, a new event in 2017, will return this year on July 12 at the 18,000-square-foot hangar of the Voyager Jet Center at Allegheny County Airport. Tickets are $375 for this exclusive party that includes food and wine pairings, live music and displays of rare and exotic cars and historic airplanes.
Dan DelBianco, executive director of the PVGP, says all of the events wouldn’t be possible without the nearly 1,000 volunteers that donate their time and talents. More than $5 million has been raised for the Autism Society of Pittsburgh and Merakey Allegheny Valley School since 1983.
“Sunday afternoon is great because the pressure is off,” he says. “It’s a relief when we know we’ve done it successfully and we’ve done it well.”
Candy Williams is a Tribune-Review contributing writer.