In 1982 some vintage car enthusiasts wanted a chance to race their beautiful and historic cars. Art McGovern thought that Pittsburgh’s Oldest Park would be a beautiful and challenging setting for the drivers, he and Mary Beth Gmiter began to plan, and soon those plans gathered a following that was meeting in driver Alan Patterson’s Garage. Soon adding local TV and Radio personality and the voice of the Pittsburgh Steelers, Myron Cope to the mix.
The committee decided that the race could be used to raise money for local charities, which would be helpful in a time when Pittsburgh had just witnessed and felt the results of the collapse of the steel industry. Many Pittsburgh charities had see a fall in their contributions and a greater need for help in that time period. The charities chosen were the Allegheny Valley School which helps special needs children with basic education and activities of daily living, the other charity being the Autism Society of Pittsburgh which helped parents with autistic children and those with autism a vast amount of their needs. The groups also gained support of the Sports Car Club of America (SCCA) and the Vintage Sports Car Club of America (VSCCA).
Because they wanted the race in Schenley Park, the idea came with one issue; Mary Schenley who donated the land for the park to the City of Pittsburgh did so with the caveat that an entry fee could not be charged for the park. Through working with the City of Pittsburgh, then Mayor Caligiuri and the Citiparks office, the Pittsburgh Vintage Grand Prix was born, with the first race scheduled for Labor Day weekend, 1983.
Since that first race, the activities of the Pittsburgh Vintage Grand Prix Association have expanded. They have added race week activities including a Road Rallye, car shows at multiple places around the city of Pittsburgh and a Black Tie Gala on the Friday before the races. The PVGP has also added a second weekend of racing at the Pittsburgh International Race Complex (PittRace). All of these activities are organized an run by an amazing group of volunteers dedicated to the charities
Over the years that the Pittsburgh Vintage Grand Prix has been in existence they have given over $5 Million to the charities. In 2019, the races will be held at Schenley Park the weekend of July 20-21. To find out more about Race Weekend visit their website.
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