July 7, 2000

Pittsburgh Vintage Grand Prix
By: George Achorn

Audiphiles lucky enough to be in attendance during 1999's running of the Monterey Historic Automobile Races were given the taste of a truly large-scale event featuring modern cars and classics from Audi's storied history. Monterey, with participation by Audi AG itself, was successful in exposing just what kind of rabid following Audi and even the classic Auto Union brands have.

Now, for the summer of 2000, Audi/ Auto Union will be featured marque at the 18th Annual Pittsburgh Vintage Grand Prix (PVGP) held in western Pennsylvania. Events spanning from July 9-16 make up the PVGP week, with the bulk attendance during the race weekend (July 15 & 16). What this means for Audiphiles is another large-scale event, only this time held on the east coast.

Pittsburgh Vintage Grand Prix

Many aspects of the PVGP make it a truly unique event. The course is laid out on a twisting 2.33 miles of road through Pittsburgh's Schenley Park. Such a layout makes the PVGP the only vintage car race in the nation that is held exclusively on city streets. No less than five 180-degree hairpin turns can be found on the Schenley course, along with nine other turns and a quarter-mile straight to the finish line.

The race is presented by the all-volunteer Pittsburgh Vintage Grand Prix Association and sanctioned by the Vintage Sports Car Club of America. Not only is it a significant event on the vintage racer's summer calendar, but it also serves as community event and fund raising project for the Autism Society of Pittsburgh and the Allegheny Valley School, an organization serving children and adults with mental retardation and physical handicaps.

Spectator admission to the race is free. Funds are raised for the two charities principally through corporate sponsorships, program advertising, patron parking and the sale of memorabilia and souvenirs.

Audi Events

Audi of America will have a full booth display of Audi's Boutique line of goods on hand for the show. There will also be a dedicated area set up for Audi owners to show their cars. Perhaps one of the most exciting draws to the weekend is a locally owned RS2 Avant that has confirmed its attendance. Two other interesting confirmations include two Ur-Quattros both equipped with 20-valve conversions.

Week-Day Events

While the weekend is the big draw, the PVGP features several events throughout the week that help fans gear up for the event and add to the experience.

Week-Day Events

While the weekend is the big draw, the PVGP features several events throughout the week that help fans gear up for the event and add to the experience.

On Sunday, July 9 at 10AM is the Kickoff Rally sponsored by The Sewickley Car Store. The rally is the official start of the PVGP weeklong activities and is open for all to be spectators as well as participants. The Rally is limited to 75 entrants and is a test of skill for driver and navigator. Cars leave the starting point (Point State Park, downtown Pittsburgh) in one-minute intervals and drive a mystery course. The object is to travel the course in a specific time with points deducted for coming in over or under the allotted time. A post-rally ceremony includes trophies and awards ceremony/picnic lunch.

On Monday, July 10 from 5:00-9:00PM race organizers hold an Invitational Preview Car Show on Walnut Street, the main thoroughfare of Shadyside. Shadyside is a quaint section of downtown Pittsburgh and offers many quaint restaurants and shops, which makes an excellent backdrop for an evening car show.

Tuesday, July 11 from 6:00-9:00 PM is the Car Cruise on Forbes Avenue in Squirrel Hill.

Wednesday, July 12 from 12:00-2:00PM is the Showcase Car Display held downtown at PPG Place, USX & Gateway Plazas. These locations are right in the heart of downtown and in recent years, this event has become known for drawing large numbers of downtown workers during their lunch breaks.

Charity Black-Tie Gala

Another unique component of the PVGP is Saturday evening's formal dinner that also is charity driven. This exclusive dinner is a black-tie event held at the famous Frick Arts Historical Center in Pittsburgh. The dinner itself will be held on the grounds of the Clayton Mansion outside and beneath a large tent on the patio area. A seven-piece orchestra will serenade partygoers all evening. An auction of many interesting Audi-oriented items will be held along with some door prizes being given away. Also on the grounds is housed the Whitney Snyder Automobile Collection of vintage and rare automobiles that will be open to dinner attendees as well.

The dinner is not cheap at $220 per couple, though the food, entertainment and door prizes, combined with the fact that this is all for charity, will make it all seem worth it (Contact information for invitations to the dinner is available below with other links).

Race Weekend

Race Weekend is the largest draw for show-goers. During the weekend, the PVGP presents a host of activities including seven classes of vintage car racing, car shows, vendor booths and much more.

Starting on Saturday morning, vendors begin to take their place along Manufacturer's Row at the top of Schenley Drive across from the golf course clubhouse. Vendors in attendance include everything from automotive artists and memorabilia collectors to dealers and manufacturers of auto-related wares.

During the morning all cars seeking to participate in the races undergo a thorough technical inspection. In the afternoon, drivers take practice laps and compete in qualifying races by class to determine starting positions for Sunday's feature races.

Several car shows are held on Saturday. The PVGP Combined Car Shows include Classic, Antique and Exotic vehicles, French, German, American 50's & 60's and Corvettes.

British Car Day also takes place on Saturday. Sponsored by The Western Pennsylvania Triumph Association, this golf course show spotlights a rapidly expanding number of English sport and luxury automobiles, as well as vintage motorcycles.

The Marque of the Year display spans both days and is located on the golf course near the clubhouse. The display will feature Quattro Club of America cars as well as other notable vintage Audis. All Audis will be welcome to show and the PVGP is looking forward to a wide range of Audi and Auto Union automobiles.

Sunday is race day and the golf course becomes home to Patron Parking. Show patrons who have paid to reserve space are entitled to prime parking on the golf course for a great view of the race. Assorted picnics, tailgate parties and even lavish catered spreads can be found along the expanse of Schenley Park Golf Course. Track activity begins with practice laps by the racers. The Patron Parade and Marque Parade follow, giving patron Parker's and the Audis a chance to do 2-lap parades on the racecourse.

At 12:45, racing commences. The PVGP seven classes of cars take part in six races. Each of the first four races involves two separate classes of cars on the track at the same time, each taking part in their own separate race. The race classes include: Pre-World War II, MG T Series, postwar Production Based Sports Cars - under 2-liter, postwar Production Based Sports Cars - over 2-liter, Lotus 6 & 7, Sports Racers, Formula Juniors.

In each race positioning is decided by qualifying time. The cars then perform a warm-up lap behind the official pace car while maintaining their positions. At the conclusion of the warm-up lap, the race begins with a rolling start as the pace car exits the course and the green flag is waved.

Each race spans 25-40 minutes depending on the speed of the cars. Winners are the first, second and third to complete the designated number of laps and is signaled with the wave of a checkered flag.

Should You Attend?

The PVGP is not your typical auto show. It offers a taste of automotive culture in a beautiful setting. This show model has proven successful for Audi's wide range of enthusiasts before in Monterey and looks to continue in Pittsburgh.

VWvortex will be covering the event throughout the weekend. Audi has been gracious enough to secure use of a TT Roadster that will be entered in the Marque of the Year show. In addition, we're looking into other ways to participate and possibly even weasel into the races.

Even if you aren't a fan of the four rings, and shame on you if you aren't, the PVGP is a spectacle in and of itself. The event is designed to appeal to all attendees, not just people with automobiles on the brain. What this means is that even if your significant other and children don't get into the whole car thing like you do, they will probably still have a blast.

We look forward to seeing you there.

PVGP: Schedule of Events

Sun July 9:

Kickoff Rally: 10AM Liberty Avenue, Bloom field

Mon July 10:

Invitational Preview Car Show: 5-9PM Walnut St, Shadyside

Tues July 11:

Car Cruise: 6-9PM Forbes Ave, Squirrel Hill

Wed July 12:

Showcase Car Display: 12-2PM PPG, USX & Gateway Plazas

Sat July 15:

Race Day: 10AM-4PM
- Race Qualifying
- Marque of the Year (Audi/ Auto Union)
- British Car Day
- Antiques and Classics
- Special Interest Car Display
- European Car Display
- Special Buick Display
- Spotlight 2000 - Celebrating the 45th Anniversary of the Ford Thunderbird

Sun July 16:

Race Day: 10AM-5PM
- Seven Classes of Vintage Racing
- Marque of the Year (Audi/ Auto Union)
- Patron Parking
- Larry Smith Memorial Car Show
- Special Buick Display


FYI - Related Information:

PVGP Entry Form (PDF):
http://www.vwvortex.com/pvgpreg.pdf
PVGP Charity Dinner Invitations:
perured@aol.com
Pittsburgh Vintage Grand Prix:
http://www.pvgpa.org/
Sewickley Car Store:
http://www.sewickleycarstore.com
Audi Worldwide Site:
http://www.audi.com
Audi of America:
http://www.audiusa.com






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