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Old 06-30-2007, 08:25 AM   #1
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Default Pittsburgh Vintage Grand Prix

It's that time of year in Da'Burgh......

Pittsburgh Vintage Grand Prix revs up
Saturday, June 30, 2007

By Don Hammonds, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

Car enthusiasts, rejoice! It's that time of the year for the Pittsburgh Vintage Grand Prix, and that means cars, cars and more cars. And of course, plenty of vintage racing and people-watching, too.

This year marks the 25th anniversary of one of Pittsburgh's most popular events. Things get under way tomorrow and continue through race day on July 15 in Schenley Park.

Executive Director Dan DelBianco said this year's event, which will honor the more than 1,200 volunteers who help put it on every year, is shaping up to be the biggest yet.

Special attractions include 1986 Indy 500 winner Bobby Rahal, who will serve as the honorary race director, and NASCAR racing star Jeff Gordon, who will make an appearance at the Vintage Grand Prix's waterfront car cruise on July 10.

The two weeks of events begins at noon tomorrow with a "Kick-Off Rallye" on South Craig Street in Oakland. There's a $60 entry fee to test driving and navigation skills on a mystery course through Pittsburgh's streets.

This year's Black Tie and Tailpipes gala has been set for 6:30 p.m. to 11 p.m. next Saturday at Oakmont Country Club. Tickets are $185 per person.

From 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. next weekend, there will be a variety of vintage hand historic car racing, including American muscle cars, a "Spridget Reunion" and BMW/Porsche Challenge at BeaveRun MotorSports Complex in Beaver Falls. Admission will be $12 per person per day or $20 for the weekend. The Steel Cities SCCA autocross also will be held at the complex next weekend; the cost of $75 per car includes driver's shirt and Saturday luau dinner.

Veteran Vintage Grand Prix goers know that along with the vintage cars from the '30s that race through Schenley Park, this event is known for its wealth of car shows. Enthusiasts flock to Downtown, Shadyside, the Waterfront and other locations to check out the classic iron.

Shows include the Invitational Car Show on Walnut Street from 5 p.m. until 10 p.m., July 9 in Shadyside, featuring rare, classic and exotic cars; and the Waterfront Car Cruise, with more than 600 cars of every imaginable make and model on display, along with their owners who always are more than happy to chat with visitors.

There's also the Combined Car Shows & British Car Day from 11 am. to 4 p.m. on race qualifying day -- Saturday, July 14. More than 2,000 vehicles of all makes and years are displayed on the Schenley Park Golf Course. And on Race Day, there's the Larry Smith Memorial Car Show from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m., featuring the best from Saturday's British Car day and the combined car shows.

The races, of course, are the center attraction. The qualifying and practice race will be held from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. at Schenley Park on Saturday, July 14, and the vintage cars will compete the next day in the streets of the park, with each group racing eight laps.

If you get the urge to do a little riding yourself, you can make a donation to take a ride around the race course from noon to 1 p.m. July 14. You can ride as a passenger -- as long as you're at least 16 -- and generate proceeds for charity at the same time. This is sponsored by Sunoco and staged below the Shop n Save Hospitality Tent.

The Vintage Grand Prix has raised more than $2 million for the Autism Society of Pittsburgh and Allegheny Valley School over the years. For more information on the event, go to www. pittsburghvintagegrandprix.com.

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