PVGP Downtown Parade and Car Display

PVGP Downtown Parade and Car Display July 2007
The Downtown Parade & Car Display, in celebration of the Pittsburgh Vintage Grand Prix, is a superb reason to take an extended lunch break, and stroll around the city admiring the vintage automobiles. Nestled among the skyscrapers and Port Authority buses, several of downtown's most prominent addresses open their courtyards for a sparkling preview of the weekend's shows. In Celebration of the 25th year of the Pittsburgh Vintage Grand Prix, a parade lap of the city was added to the event. Fifty race and show cars were invited to participate in the event, which began at General Robinson Street, which is located next to Heinz Field, home of the Pittsburgh Steelers.

The 50 automobiles were arranged according to drop-off location; the three locations where the cars were to spend most of their afternoon were the US Steel Building, Market Square, and PPG Place. These three locations are among the most scenic in all of Pittsburgh.

Around mid-morning, the cars were led into the city by a police escort. The first car behind the police escort was the Chevrolet Corvette Wide-body Racer, which was a purpose-built car for IMSA/SCCA competition. In original configuration, the engine produced over 740 horsepower. Its home is on the track, and not the city streets. If it were to travel the streets on a regular basis, it is without doubt that the police escort would be behind the car, instead of in front.

The parade slowly rolled over the Andy Warhol Bridge, also known as the Seventh Street Bridge, which spans the Allegheny River and connects the North Side of Pittsburgh to Downtown Pittsburgh. This is the only bridge in the United States named for a visual artist, Andy Warhol, a Pittsburgh native.

The parade continued into Downtown Pittsburgh, dropping off the first batch of show cars at the US Steel Building, the tallest building in Pittsburgh since 1970 and the 35th tallest in the United States. The building stands 841 feet tall and stretches 64 floors. The parade then continued on to the next location, Market Square. Market Square is a very tranquil location, surrounded by beautiful buildings and restaurants. There are gas lamps that circle the courtyard, and there is an abundance of plant life and flowers. It is the home to the city's first courthouse, jail, and newspaper, the Post-Gazette. In modern times, it is a popular place for free concerts. The police escort then drove the short distance to PPG Place, the end of the parade, and the final resting spot for the remaining show cars. PPG Place is considered the crown jewel of the Pittsburgh Skyline, and is home to the Wintergarden and The Rink. The area is comprised of six buildings all of matching glass design. The name 'PPG Place' was derived from its main tenant, PPG Industries, one of the world's largest glass manufacturers. The neo-gothic building style was completed in 1984 and has become one of the most recognizable features of Downtown Pittsburgh. The area covers six city blocks, which was more than adequate to provide temporary parking spots for the Pittsburgh Vintage Grand Prix show cars.

All morning, the weather teased the convertible owners with drops of mist. Rain drops fell for a short period of time, before the parade began, but quickly stopped. As the procession began, even more misting would occur before all cars had come to their resting places. The drivers, who had opted to have their convertible top lowered, were subjected to the 'haze.' As the cars began to park, many owners were quick to hoist the tops and do what they could to protect the car from the elements.

All of the cars arrived at their location and arranged into position, before the lunch-time hour. As the hungry workers left their buildings in search of food, many stated 'Oh, the Pittsburgh Vintage Grand Prix - is that this weekend?' Mission accomplished.

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