Cars zipping around the Pittsburgh Vintage Grand Prix racecourse in Schenley Park this weekend will hit speeds up to 80 mph.
But they can go faster.
“You’ve got to be careful because you’re on city streets and the streets are cambered so that the water runs off,” said Dan DelBianco, the race’s executive director. “The driving lane that you want to take may be counter to what you need. You also have manhole covers, you’ve got sewer drains, telephone poles stone walls and curbs. You’re not going at it 100 percent and that’s why were not reaching the speeds that some people think they might. It’s all about putting on a show and keeping it safe.”
Add the fact that the cars — some of them true racecars and others museum-quality showpieces — range in value from $20,000 to $2 million, and one can understand why the Grand Prix is a mix of a race and a high-speed parade.
“It’s a mixture of the serious racer and those who just want to come out and let everybody appreciate seeing their car race,” DelBianco said.
Race organizers are expecting 250,000 visitors and participants for Sunday’s annual event at Schenley Park. DelBianco said 155 drivers in seven separate car groupings will race. Others will show off their vintage autos during a car show. The cars for the most part are limited to 1960 and older models.
Fred Jacob and Dick Bishop will put their cars on display in the car show. It took Jacob, 62, of Allison Park about 4 years to assemble the 1965 Shelby S.C. Cobra replica from a kit that cost about $20,000.
“It comes in 35 boxes of parts and a 10-page manual,” he said, laughing.
Bishop, 85, of White Hall has never raced in the Pittsburgh Vintage Grand Prix, but he and his 1957 Jaguar roadster have been there every year since the race started 36 years ago.
Bishop knows what’s its like to tool around at speeds topping 100 mph. He did that once, but will only say it happened a long time ago somewhere around St. Louis.
“It will do 140,” Bishop said. “I had it up to 110, then I chickened out.”
The race benefits local charities that support people with autism and intellectual and developmental disabilities. DelBianco said the event has raised $5 million to date from registration fees, sponsorships, donations and merchandise sales.
Sunday’s race will cap a 10-day schedule of events. An event schedule is available at http://www.pvgp.org.
Bob Bauder is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Bob at 412-765-2312, [email protected] or via Twitter @bobbauder.