Driving The Way It Used To Be

Around 6pm tonight, Seventh Avenue in downtown Pittsburgh was turned into a parking lot loaded with very rare and very expensive cars. Alfa Romeos, MGs and BMWs. There cars from eras gone by: 1950’s and 1960’s. Some were meant for racing while others were designed from cruising but all had one thing in common. They were all in perfect condition.

Welcome to the world of the Pittsburgh Vintage Grand Prix. The 27th annual event is really a week’s worth of activity from public cars shows to private fund-raisers. This celebration of the best machines on four wheels culminates with this weekend’s Vintage Grand Prix. Its a race through the winding streets of Schenley Park.

On the outside, it probably looks like people with a lot of money to spend who have decided to invest their dollars in classic cars. That would be the wrong assumption. True, the vintage car collection business is not cheap but investing is not what drives these drivers. No, its a passion for putting the pedal to the medal and doing something they can only do in Pittsburgh.

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Behind the wheel of the 1959 Elva Formula Junior

There are vintage grand prix races across the country, but almost all take place in controlled environments: from airfields to race courses. I discovered tonight the Pittsburgh Grand Prix is the only event in this country that actually pays homage to the days of road racing when these cars would run through the streets of an actual city. That is the thrill these drivers seek … and that is what they pay for. There is no prize money at stake and their entry fee goes to the Allegheny Valley School. No, they race so they can feel that singular thrill of flooring it on a snaking, winding course.

I’m not much of a car enthusiast, but I have to admit I was blown away by the cars that were on display …. and the passion many of these men and women have for racing. I know anything above 75 miles an hour would scare me. However, this is a different breed of folk who truly have a need for speed.

Looking for something off the beaten track ( or course ), then check out the Pittsburgh Vintage Grand Prix. While these drivers pay for the privilege to experience racing the way it used to be, you get to enjoy the cars careening around the course … for free.

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