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By Mary Davis

The Pittsburgh Vintage Grand Prix is definitely an event worth the yearlong wait. Now in its 29th year, the PVGP is America’s largest vintage racing event. It’s also the only race that is still run on the streets, the way car racing first began. Not only auto enthusiasts, but families will also enjoy this local tradition for all it has to offer.

Pittsburgh Vintage Grand Prix Association

1000 Gamma Drive, Suite 106
Pittsburgh, PA 15238
(412) 559-3500
July 10th – July 24th
Website: www.pvgp.org

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Event Overview

Held in Pittsburgh’s Schenley Park, the first race began in 1983. Approval for the event hinged on the assurance that proceeds would benefit charity, So with the help of legendary Pittsburgh figure Myron Cope, it was decided that the Grand Prix would benefit two local charities, the Autism Society of Pittsburgh and Allegheny Valley School. This mission continues today. There is no fee to attend the event, but donations to these worthwhile causes are welcomed and encouraged. Vintage auto enthusiasts and volunteers may register at the official website.

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Race Week Schedule

While the main events of the Grand Prix occur at Schenley Park in the final two days of the Grand Prix, you may be surprised to learn that there are actually 10 days of festivities, happening in six locations throughout two counties. Here are some of the event highlights:

PVGP Historic Races at BeaveRun (weekend of July 16 & 17, 9:00am – 5:00pm)
The historic races at BeaveRun have been around as a stand-alone race destination for eight years. It has served as a kick-off event for the Pittsburgh Vintage Grand Prix and is a chance for participants to run in an additional race. Discounts are provided for those who wish to enter the races at both BeaveRun and Schenley Park. Each day at noon, spectators are offered the opportunity to purchase a ride to benefit the two event charities.

Waterfront Car Cruise (Tuesday, July 19, 2011, 5:00pm – 9:00pm)
More than 750 cars will be on display at the Waterfront at Homestead. The cruise will be held in the parking lot areas near the First Commonwealth Bank along Waterfront Drive. There will be live music by The Street Level Band. A $5 donation fee will get you admittance, along with a cruise program; and proceeds will go to the official event charities.

Schenley Park Race Day (Sunday, July 24, 2011)
The 10-day Pittsburgh Vintage Grand Prix closes with the traditional day of activities at Schenley Park. Warm up and practice laps will be from 8:15 am until 10:15 am. Opening ceremonies will be going on from 11:00 am to noon. A total of seven races will be run between noon and 7:00 pm, and you can see the International Car Show on the golf course from 9:30 am until 4:00 pm.

Be sure to visit the official 2011 Events Page for full details. You wouldn’t want to miss any of this jam-packed week.

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Things to Know

Beyond the events and attractions, there are some things spectators will want to be aware of. First, there is shuttle service on the final weekend at Schenley Park. Shuttle transportation is free, but parking costs $10, with proceeds going to event charities. Also, the event welcomes volunteers. Anyone interested in volunteering can contact Cathy Dernorsek at (412) 824-2297.

Spectators may bring a variety of items including: cameras, sunscreen, coolers, picnic blankets and folding chairs. Items that are not permitted include: pop-up tents, beach umbrellas, cooking grills, personal golf carts, bicycles, Frisbees, balls or fireworks. In order to keep the peace, Pittsburgh police will be monitoring the premises and enforcing these rules.

Be sure to consider attending this year’s Pittsburgh Vintage Grand Prix. With so many events, you’re sure to find activities for your entire family.

Mary Davis is a freelance writer from Butler. When not attached to her laptop, she’s spending time with her three kids or engrossed in a good book.