“A Ride in the Park” – The most common reference by members of the Vintage Racing community for the 30th Annual Pittsburgh Vintage Grand Prix in Schenley Park. Both drivers and spectators were blessed with low temperatures, moderate humidity and almost zero rain.
MG was the “Marque of the Year” and there were over 50 MG Vintage Racers entered. Everything from a couple of Pre-War cars up to some really hot MGB's. The Sunday all-MG race was great, everyone played well with others and there were plenty of point-by's and good judgment by the faster drivers. Yes, the race circuit is treacherous and very, very difficult -- but you simply adjust your outlook and drive well within your limits. The faster drivers understand the situation and are generally careful when passing rookie drivers. There were about 35 first-timers there this year and those cars were clearly ‘marked’ on the chance that they might be overtaken.
The Rippert boys were recruited early-on for pit crew duties. The ‘old guy’ was on the crew for the #247 TD piloted by Rob Orander from Raleigh, NC and, the ‘little guy’ had the role of “crew chief” for the #271 TD piloted by DVC’er, Jim Sanders from Perkasie, PA. I’ve worked ‘crew’ duties many times for Rob and other friends here in the Southeast at various tracks but, Tom, as well as Jim & Rob were 1st timers in Pittsburgh. It provided me great personal joy to be on the grid with Rob but, even more joy when I looked up the grid and watched Tom, working with an ear-to-ear grin, assisting Jim with his Nomex, helmet and belts! My guess is that the ‘little guy’ is “hooked”!
Jim had a fuel cell issue at the start of practice on Saturday. The ‘cause’ for the ‘leak’ was quickly identified and Rob just happened to have the needed tubing to rectify the problem. Jim was back on the track in short order. There were no 2-car incidents. The handful of problems were single-car, at least two of them caused by mechanical problems, not driver error. It was a remarkably safe weekend, a testament to the PVGP organizers.
I understand that there were more than 170 MGs in the Marque of the Year show but when Tom, Dick Suffredini and I drove our cars on to the show field at about 7 AM, we were the 1st cars in the T-Series class and, when we returned to the show field around 6 PM, we were the last to leave.... we spent the day playing with, and enjoying the “go fast MGs” in the paddock!
If you love MGs you've just got to do the PVGP next year. Racing on public roads, major British Car Show, incredible hospitality.... There is nothing like it anywhere else in North America.
And, there is no coincidence that a MG-TC has been the logo for the PVGP: the course was made for these cars!