After sipping coffee in Squirrel Hill with a friend, catching up on the last few months of our lives, I headed home via Schenley Park. NOT!
Everything was blocked off with white sawhorses. I found a parking spot and strolled around, chatting with the women at the gate letting the trucks and car trailers into the park, realizing that this has been going on for all these years but I’d not experienced it in the 25 years I’ve lived in Pittsburgh. The 32nd Vintage Grand Prix in Pittsburgh where the cars are raced right on the streets.
from their website
“The Pittsburgh Vintage Grand Prix’s mission is to produce a world-class vintage racing event to raise funds that help provide residential care, treatment and support for children and adults with autism and intellectual and developmental disabilities through the Autism Society of Pittsburgh and Allegheny Valley School.”
I learned a lot in a short amount of time, walking down the road, talking with car owners and pit crew or significant others. I met a volunteer who is a “rope tower” during the races. No one wants his services but I understand some will need to be towed.
A nice couple from Milwaukee with a really cool MG that they toured in England with 89 other MG owners. I’m always fascinated how people get into different interests and activities in their lives, why people collect things, their hobbies. One man had a former show dog, Vivian ( or perhaps Vivien, sorry) who was a distinctive English bull dog. He said showing dogs, racing cars, there are a lot of similarities.
I can tell you that the people I talked to are making themselves happy by participating in this sport, caring and restoring their cars, and being part of an eclectic group with passion for what they are investing themselves in.
Meet Luke. From the North Hills. He has worked on this Lotus for 5 years. Check out the humps he created so he can fit into the car as he is 6’2″. He shared the photos of the work he accomplished, what it looked like when he started and it is amazing. When his mother was expecting him in two short months, she drove demo laps at the VGP. His father was there offering support and advice, cheering him on. He told me how there was a meeting for the drivers and then they would walk the course. He even invited me to ride in the Lotus at the Charity ride but Saturday I am shooting a wedding. I looked in and down and wondered if I would fit or if several people would have had to extricate me from the seat.
Luke taking time to show his Lotus photos and explain how he rebuilt it to a young man who is going to be a seventh grader at Colfax this fall. This almost seventh grader been coming to the Vintage Grand Prix on his bike for the past three years and has a real interest in cars.
Luke and his dad
Meet Rich. Drove in from Denver, Colorado. His wife flew in from a business trip in New York so they are at the VGP for the first time. He races cars after an experience with an avalanche while extreme skiing.
He explained a lot to me (which I am hesitant to write for fear it will be inaccurate) but his 912 (which he got off Craig’s List) uses gas without ethanol. NOTE: A Porsche 912 NOT
Inside the trailer that holds the car.
You should hear his engine when he fires it up! Porsche 912 1967
Here’s Rich replacing the jet due to the low altitude here.
Rich has installed an automatic fire extinguisher as a safety measure. If the temperature rises above 155 degrees it will go off.
I thought it would be fun for Rich to meet Luke (turns out they will be competitors in the same class) as they were both first time racers in this particular event so Rich drove his car down the road and I followed.
Here are Rich and Luke
And here’s Chris. Chris is from Verona, PA. He has restored cars for years. But this is his first race. You can just tell he has put a lot of love into his car.
MGB GT 1968 Under two litre class
And here is Richard Barnes the Competition Director and the man who introduced me to Rich
Yes, there are female drivers. Here are some competitors lined up to register.
Without realizing I caught a shot of Lauren in line at registration. She is “paddocking” with Luke but wasn’t there when I was doing all the pictures. See edit below with addition of Lauren and the 1956 Turner she drives. Thanks Luke B for the photograph below.
A couple more cars so you can see the variety participating
Driving by some of the open wheel cars. A nice man from Toronto who is on a Pit Crew explained all about the open wheel construction and the rear engines. Another man with a couple of Sprites offered to get me some contact information so I could share the photos.
When I left there were still cars arriving
Late addition courtesy of Luke B the Lotus Owner Saturday 9:00 AM
After reading the post Luke B sent me the following photograph of another first time driver
Here’s what he said
I saw you caught a photo of my friend Lauren at registration. It’s too bad you didn’t get a chance to meet her – she’s paddocked with us now, but I think that was after you left. Not only is she one of only a few female drivers this weekend and one of the few young drivers, but she’s another local entrant and, like me, it’s her first time racing here. Here’s a photo of her and the 1956 Turner she races:
Photographed by Luke B.