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VSCCA Pittsburgh Vintage Grand Prix 2006
at Schenley Park, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
2006 PVGP

Indicative of the racing format through the thoroughfares of Bridgehampton, Elkhart Lake, Watkins Glen, Put–in–Bay, and many other venues, the Pittsburgh Vintage Grand Prix (PVGP) sanctioned by Vintage Sports Car Club of America (VSCCA) remains the only vintage racing event today celebrating the “Golden Age of Road Racing” when a post–WWII country and motorcar racing were on the verge of exploding from raw innocence and racecars danced around public street circuits.

What began as a modest one–day gathering hosting 75 participants, has grown into a 10–day affair featuring various car rallies and shows, a Black Tie Gala, the PVGP Historic Races Sanctioned by Vintage Racers’ Group (VRG) and Vintage Drivers’ Club of America (VDCA at the BeaveRun Motorsports Complex the weekend before, and numerous other GP related activities.

Presented by major sponsor, SHOP ’n SAVE, today’s PVGP hosted a record number of nearly 200 entries that sliced through the twisty asphalt of Pittsburgh’s very public Schenley Park roads and its picturesque audience of century–old elms, oaks, maples, and tens of thousands of spectators (providing plenty of vocal support) lining the course’s provisional layout this past July 15–16. Executive Director of the PVGP, Dan DelBianco, estimated this year’s crowd exceeded well over 200,000.

Logistically, Schenley’s temporary configuration was comprised of 16-turns (including five 180–degree hairpins), ¼ mile straightaway, and tricky cambered road surface. Additionally, like its historic arena predecessors, the frequent use of hay bales offered token protection from curb hugging trees, light poles, drainage grates and an array of other Pittsburgh’s flagship park’s immovable objects. Additionally, Jersey barriers joined the park’s very unforgiving 6–inch granite block curbing and century old stonewalls all outlining the driver’s paved path through Schenley’s 456–acre oasis, and what most vintage auto racing pilots simply describe as the “most challenging race circuit they have ever driven.”

Honoring Jaguar this year’s event’s featured “Marque of the Year,” Managing Director of Jaguar Cars of London, Bibiana “Bibie” Boerio, was named event Grand Marshall. Ms. Boerio is also a native Pittsburgher. AutoAficionado Magazine editor, Larry Crane, was in attendance as Honorary Race Director.

For two days, the racing contingency divided into six racing groups and turned back the clock with a full color replay of motorsport’s history that most of us weren’t privy to the first time around. And while Gold Sponsor, Crown Royal (no stranger to motorsports) crowned the following race group winners: Jeff Jacobson (Group1); Paul Bova (Group 2); Dick Fryberger (Group 3–SR) and J.R. Mitchell Group 3–FJ); Manley Ford (Group 4); Tivvy Shenton (Group 5); and Group 6’s Roy Hopskin, Shenton also took top honors in the All–Jaguar feature and John Master was victorious in the 2005 GP makeup race that was cancelled last year due to inclement weather.

Aptly, past PVGP Event Chairman, John “Jake” Jacobson (event’s “Honorary Historic Driver”) selected and doled out the venue’s traditional “Best Drive” awards presenting each race group. Selected were Dana Kendall, Joe Parlanti, Rick Presbrey, Brian King, John Jaycox and Bob Fairbanks representing Group one through six, respectively.

On the surface, the PVGP may be a temporary home to just a bunch of ageless chariots dancing on the asphalt one more time, but when you begin to “see the forest while amongst the trees” that’s when you realize that the Pittsburgh Vintage Grand Prix is more than that. It’s a unique opportunity to experience an emerging time in motorsports when man and machine both tested their driving skills, designs and engineering capabilities, and even guts on America’s public thoroughfares.

Powered by the numerous City of Pittsburgh municipalities, a talented army of well over 1000 dedicated volunteers and the guidance of Event Chairman, David L. George, Race Director, Mike Connolly, Executive Director of the PVGP, Dan DelBianco, and countless others with all monies raised (over two million dollars to date) donated to The Allegheny Valley School and The Autism Society of Pittsburgh, the PVGP not only continues to be a win–win for everyone, but as of 2006, it is still, the only vintage race event contested on public roads.....Walter Pietrowicz