40 Years of Vintage Racing and a Century of Motorsport

July 1, 2022 – We’re celebrating 40 years of the PVGP this summer.  Our first event was held on Labor Day weekend, 1983 and lasted exactly one day.  Now, of course it’s expanded to ten days of events, with vintage car races on two weekends, on two different courses.  But one thing hasn’t changed over the years – the parallel goal of raising funds for charities that help citizens in our community.

The first Pittsburgh Vintage Grand Prix was held on Labor Day 1983. This is a photo of the starting grid stages in front of Phipps Conservatory.

We are proud of our 40 years, but our sports car races have a much older heritage.  The Steel Cities Region of the Sports Car Club of America (SCCA) put on one of the first post-war sports car race weekends sanctioned by the SCCA in July, 1953.  It was held on the runways and taxiways of the Cumberland, Maryland, Municipal Airport.  It drew 80 competitors and hundreds of spectators.  It was supported in part by the Lions Club of Cumberland, who partnered with Steel Cities to raise funds for charity.

The Cumberland race continued and grew every year in entrants, spectators, and funds raised, and when the Federal Aviation Administration pulled in the reins on use of the airport there, Steel Cities moved the event to the road race course at Nelson Ledges, Ohio.  Despite the change in venue, the annual series of SCCA National-level continued to be called the Cumberland Nationals.  For several years, the “Cumberland” shifted to the airport in Connellsville, PA.  Finally, a dedicated road race course was constructed in Wampum, Beaver County.  It was called BeaveRun at the time, but now under new ownership and management, and with a greatly improved facility and longer race course, it is a world-class facility called Pittsburgh International Race Complex, or simply Pitt Race.

Steel Cities held its 70th Cumberland Classic, now an SCCA “Super Tour” event in April, 2022 at Pitt Race. It’s the longest continuously running series of SCCA sports car races in the nation.  Many of the volunteers you see working the racing portion of the Pittsburgh Vintage Grand Prix come from the Steel Cities Region- SCCA, helped in Cumberland.  As old as the Cumberland series is, though we can trace automobile racing in the Pittsburgh area back much farther –in fact, to the very early years of the 20th Century.

In the spring of 1901, the weekly journal, Index of Pittsburg Life, appointed Eloise Lorne as its automobile columnist.  In the March 9th issue, she wrote that, “At present, there are two hundred machines of six different makes in Pittsburg.”  The Pittsburgh Auto Club was founded that spring, with a membership of 50 motorists.

In 1903, local enthusiasts got a taste of motor racing in the 1903 Pittsburgh-to-New York endurance run, which covered 797 miles between New York and Pittsburgh, by way of Cleveland.  It was sponsored by the National Association of Automotive Manufacturers.

At least two races were staged in the city that year – in June and July, 1903, both in Highland Park.  Gasoline, steam and electric cars competed in their own classes, and the North Side’s W. Henry Artzberger won the steam category in both meets in a car of his own manufacture.  Take a look at the Artzberger Steam Surry, built around 1904, in the William H. Artzberger collection at the Car & Carriage Museum at The Frick Art & Historical Center in Point Breeze.

So, please enjoy the 40th year of the Pittsburgh Vintage Grand Prix, but know that enthusiasm in motor sports in our region has a much longer history!

By Ted Sohier, Voice of the Vintage


Dan DelBianco (412) 559-3500  delbianco@pvgp.org
Bernie Martin (412) 996-5700 bernardtmartin@pvgp.org
Susan Gera (724) 396-9372 media@pvgp.org

About the PVGP

Begun in 1983, the Pittsburgh Vintage Grand Prix is entering its 40-year and features two weekends of racing action. The first weekend is the PVGP Historics at Pitt Race. The second weekend is racing on a 2.33-mile road course set on the streets of Schenley Park, a city park adjacent to the Carnegie Mellon and University of Pittsburgh campuses.  Between the race weekends there are car shows, parties, car shows road rallies, and more. PVGP is a volunteer-run event with 1,200 volunteers. The PVGP is a 501 (c) (3) non-profit organization with a charity mission and has raised $6 million for the Autism-Pittsburgh and Merakey Allegheny Valley School for individuals with intellectual disabilities and autism.