Pittsburgh Vintage Grand Prix

Pittsburgh Vintage Grand Prix September 2008
This is the only vintage race in America held entirely on city streets. It is an event that has a long and proud history with nearly three decades under its belt. This year began with a slight technical glitch and rain delay. As the Star Spangled Banner began playing over the loud-speakers, the audio cut out. The tune was carried to its completion by the course workers and PVGP officials picking up where the music left off. This was followed by a tribute to the late Myron Cope, one of the founders of the event, and then by rain. The event was not a total wash, as the first three groups ran the course before the rain began, and the final three groups were able to wait-out the hour-long rain delay.

The Race
The first of the six groups on the course was the Pre-War category. Ben Bragg in the Reuter V8 Special led early, but would finish in second after loosing a cylinder and a few spark plugs. Frank Mount in an MG TB would take top honors; he has finished in second place for the past two years.

The Group 2 'Under One Liter' race was won by Norman Berke in an Elva Courier. Second went to James Lyles in a Cooper MK8 followed by Elad Shraga in an Abarth 207A.

Group 3, the Formula Juniors & Sports Racers, was a very full group with over 30 vehicles on the grid. Around half of the entries were Lotus's, including such memorable models as the Lotus 7, 11, 18, and 22. The Lotus marque claimed nine of the top 10 places along with the coveted top three spots. Christian Moric, in a Lotus 22, started from pole position, but was unable to fend off Dick Fryberger's Lotus 11 for the checkered flag.

After three races had been run, things came to a temporary halt as high winds and heavy rain had everyone running for cover. After more than an hour, the racing resumed even though many of the racers had packed up and left. Over half of the Group 4 'Under Two Liter' cars declined to run through the wet conditions. A trio of MG TD's claimed the first three positions, with PVGP veteran Manley Ford in the lead.

Next on the course was the Group 5 'Over 2-Liter' cars, though they too had to battle rain. The final race of the day was the Small Bore through 1965, Modified & H-Production. When the checkered flag fell for the final time of the day, Bob Colaizzi in his Lotus Super 7 was in the lead. Though the rain had subsided and the course was fairly dry, he opted to run with rain tires which were to his advantage. Another advantage was that over half of the cars had packed up and left once the rain had started.

Spotlight on the Vehicles
There are many faithful racers that compete at the PVGP, and have been for many years. At least 15 drivers have been part of the Grand Prix for 26 years. Rivalries exist among the ranks and their efforts are always enjoyable to watch. Even as exciting are the newcomers to the race. These are the unknowns and how they will perform is a complete mystery. Perhaps one the most thrilling vehicles to run the course was also the oldest: it was the 1912 Mercedes Benz Race Car. It has a 1914 Grand Prix Mercedes style body which was fitted during its 6-year restoration in England. The car was completed just last year and made its restoration debut at the Amelia Island Concours. Mounted under the long nose is a Hall-Scott Aero engine. It has four-cylinders and displaces a massive 9.5-liters. Being the oldest, with many of the cars having a full two decades of improvements to rely on, the Mercedes ran near the back of the pack. It finished in 14th place in the Pre-War category, but considering its age, it was very impressive. Another extraordinary entry in the Pre-War category was the Maserati 8C 3000/M. It is believed that the legendary racer Tazio Nuvolari raced it in the Belgian Grand Prix at Spa in 1933. There were several incredible entries in the 'Small Bore thru 1965, Modified, and H-Production' Category. Among them was the Maserati Tipo 151/3 driven by Dr. Charles Schwimer of Pittsburgh, PA. There were only three Tipo 151's created and only one exists in modern times. The car that ran the course at the PVGP was not an original, but a brilliant tribute to Maserati's attempt at winning the 24 Hours of LeMans. As it ran the grueling course, it was obvious that its talents were better reserved for the high speed circuit at LeMans, specifically the Mulsanne Straight. The sharp corners and steep hills had this curvaceous Maserati comfortably in the middle of the pack. The Aston Martin DB4 Series was produced from 1958 through 1963 with just over 1,000 examples produced. One was brought to this years' PVGP and it looked very fast during practice and qualifying. Also running the Group 6 category was the Alfa Romeo GTA originally driven by Horst Kwech in the 1970 Trans-Am Sedan Series under 2-liter (U-2) category. It won the U-2 class in 1970 and its speed was very evident on the PVGP course.

Celebration
The late Myron Cope, a Pittsburgh Sport Caster and icon of the Pittsburgh community, was the co-founded of the PVGP 26 years ago. Even after all that time, the event still benefits Myron's two favorite charities, the Autism Society of Pittsburgh and Allegheny County Schools. In memory of Myron, a special ceremony took place, including a parade around the Grand Prix Course and a towel spinning tribute 'Terrible Towel' (another Pittsburgh tradition started by Cope). In attendance were parade Grand Marshal & Pittsburgh Mayor, Luke Ravenstall along with Steelers including Jeff Hardings and Myrons Copes' daughter, Elizabeth.

Each year the event highlights a marque (meaning manufacturer). This year the event honored a country - Italy. Included in this celebration were Ferrari, Maserati, Alfa Romeo, Fiat, Lamborghini, and Lancia.

Conclusion
Rain sidelined many of the cars in Groups 4-6 and thinned out the spectators who came to watch this annual event. Sad, but not entirely unexpected, as the rain has been a frequent visitor throughout the years to the Pittsburgh Vintage Grand Prix. It has become a tradition and one that race officials, and the more than 1,200 passionate volunteers, know how to battle. All six groups were able to run and the spectators who chose to battle the elements were treated to some thrilling, hard-fought racing. The 2.33 mile course with its 23 turns, walls, bends, and some very off-camber turns provided plenty of entertainment for drivers and spectators.

This year's event was a sensational salute to the late broadcaster Myron Cope, a great tribute to the Italian automobiles, and plenty of racing and classic car shows for the car enthusiast. Proceeds benefit charities, with more than $2.25 million donated to the Autism Society of Pittsburgh and the Allegheny Valley School since the event's inception.

Galleries
1912 Mercedes-Benz Race Car  
1919 Ford Model T  
1925 Bugatti Type 35A  
1929 Riley Ardent Alligator  
1930 Ford Model A Speedster  
1930 Ford Sprint Car Special  
1932 Austin Seven Special  
1932 Maserati 8C 3000/M  
1935 Ford Indy Continuation Racer  
1935 Ford Reuter V8 Special  
1935 MG PB  
1938 Alfa Romeo Volpi Monoposto  
1938 Morgan 4/4  
1939 Dreyer Big Car  
1939 MG TB  
1952 Culbert Sprint  
1954 Cooper MK VIII F3  
1954 Renault Rosier Rogue  
1955 Abarth 207A  
1955 Panhard Dyna Junior  
1956 Morgan Plus Four  
1956 Turner 803  
1957 Jabro MKI  
1957 Turner 950  
1959 Elva Courier MKII  
1959 Fiat Abarth 750 GT Zagato  
1959 Turner 950S  
1959 Turner MKI  
1960 BMW 700  
1960 Saab 93F  
1963 Formcar MKI  
1967 Fiat 850  
1956 Lotus Eleven  
1957 Lotus 7A Series 1  
1958 Lotus Eleven Series II  
1958 Lotus Seven  
1958 Turner 950  
1959 Elva 100 Formula Series  
1959 Elva Mark IV  
1959 Gemini MK2 FJ  
1959 Lola MK1  
1959 Lotus 18 FJ  
1959 Lotus Seven  
1959 Osca Formula Junior  
1959 Stanguellini Monoposto Formula Junior  
1960 Lotus 18 Formula Junior  
1962 Elva MK VI  
1962 Lola MKI  
1962 Lotus Type 22  
1964 Saab Quantum Formula S  
1950 Lester MG Special  
1950 MG TD  
1951 MG TD  
1952 MG TD  
1953 MG TD  
1954 MG TF  
1957 MG MGA  
1958 Alfa Romeo Giulietta  
1958 Elva Courier MKI  
1958 MG MGA  
1959 Alfa Romeo Giulietta  
1959 Lotus Elite S1  
1959 MG MGA  
1959 Triumph TR3A  
1959 Turner MKI  
1960 Alfa Romeo Giulietta Spider  
1960 Lotus Elite  
1961 Sunbeam Alpine  
1951 Allard J2  
1951 Jaguar XK120  
1952 Allard J2X  
1954 Triumph TR2  
1955 Austin-Healey 100M  
1955 Jaguar XK-140  
1955 Porsche 550 RS Spyder  
1956 Austin-Healey 100-4 BN2  
1956 Austin-Healey 100M BN2  
1957 Porsche 356 A  
1958 Porsche 356A  
1959 Devin D  
1959 Morgan Plus Four  
1959 Porsche 356A  
1960 Daimler SP 250  
1956 Alfa Romeo Giulietta Veloce  
1959 Austin-Healey Sprite Mark I  
1961 Ginetta G4  
1962 Aston Martin DB4  
1962 Austin MINI Cooper  
1962 Lotus Super Seven  
1962 MG MGB  
1963 Elva MK7  
1964 Austin Mini Cooper  
1964 Fiat Abarth 1000TC  
1964 Triumph TR4  
1965 Datsun 1500 SPL310  
1965 Maserati Tipo 151  
1965 Turner Mark III  
1966 Alfa Romeo Giulia GTV  
1967 Fiat 850  
1967 Morris Minor 1000  
1969 Abarth Scorpione SS  
1969 Alfa Romeo GTA 1300 Junior  
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