Vintage Grand Prix attracts more than 250K people to Pittsburgh
Matt and Marcie Weinstein took a spot in the shade on Sunday to watch the Pittsburgh Vintage Grand Prix for at least the fifth time in the 10 years since they moved to the city.
“It's one of the highlights of why we love living in Pittsburgh,” said Matt Weinstein, 41, of Squirrel Hill. “I'm originally from California. When you want to go to car races, you had to buy tickets and go to a professional track, and here it's open, free, and it feels like it's part of the neighborhood.”
The Weinsteins and their children, Nate, 7, and Abby, 5, were among 250,000 people who attended the 31st annual event over 10 days in Schenley Park, including 50,000 on the finale.
Sunday's version included 150 brightly colored classic cars and another 250 on display. The car engines roared and occasionally sputtered, and helmeted drivers waved politely to spectators.
The event has raised $3.2 million since 1983 for the Autism Society of Pittsburgh and the Allegheny Valley Schools. Grand Prix spokesman Steve Weber expects this year's event to generate $250,000.
John and Dotti Bechtol both raced. They own a 1972 Porsche 914-6, 1972 Alfa Romeo Spider, 1964 Mini Cooper and 1959 Elva Mark IV.
Standing in a racing suit rolled down to his waist, with piping that cools him off in the car protruding from his shirt, he recounted going to his first Grand Prix here in 1999. He told his wife that he had to race.
“I said, ‘You're not going to have all the fun,' ” said his wife. She said she was one of five female drivers in Sunday's race.
“On a good day, she'll be faster — her car is quicker than mine,” he said, correcting himself.
John Bechtol has raced on other tracks such as Watkins Glen, but he said they are more forgiving than Schenley Park because a driver can go off track and recover.
“When you get off that surface,” he said, pointing to the road, “you'll hit a 4- or 5-inch curb. You don't see that at any other track. In addition to that, you got trees, stone walls, monuments, steps with railings. You can't lose focus.”
Grand Prix cars can go over 100 mph but average 75 mph, Weber said.
David and Susan Ward have attended the race six or seven times. He likes how slow the cars go. That's right — slow.
“You can't see NASCAR,” said David Ward, 50. “The cars fly by you in half a second, and here you can see them come around the bend. You can see the driver.”
Jonathan Kersting, 40, of Edgewood displayed his gold 1976 Porsche 911S Targa at the race. The convertible features a hounds-tooth interior. With the rear hood up, he revealed a 200-horsepower engine.
It was once owned by Joey Kramer, the drummer for Aerosmith, Kersting said proudly.
Childless, Kersting raved about the car like a bubbling father would his firstborn. He had wanted the car since he was 10 years old, when a neighbor who was an exotic car dealer gave him a ride in one.
“He showed me what that car could do in a cul-de-sac,” Kersting said.
Growing up, Kersting built model cars of Porsches, Lamborghinis and Ferraris and plastered the walls of his room with pictures of them, not Farrah Fawcett-Majors.
“I didn't care about chicks,” he said. “I cared about cars.”
Bill Zlatos is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-320-7828 or email@example.com.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Court attire can have impact, public defenders say
- Closures planned for Parkway West
- Man fatally shot in East Liberty; police investigating 2nd shooting
- Tiny black weevils booming in W.Pa.
- Newsmaker: Katherine A. Davoli
- Homewood woman accused of card game stabbing
- Higher school taxes prevail in Western Pennsylvania, Trib finds
- Independence Day festivities scheduled
- Fireworks displays costly, but W. Pa. communities feel obligated
- Tradition rules in Pittsburgh: Keep bridge color the same, poll finds
- Run-down duplex that Dormont helped to rehab not on the market long