Last Updated on July 24, 2019 by Jeremy
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The Vintage Grand Prix has a been a Pittsburgh summer staple since 1983, and is one of the largest classic car shows and races around.
While the simplest way to enjoy this one is to head to Schenley Park on race weekend, there are actually multiple aspects of the Vintage Grand Prix worth talking about. To get the full experience you may have to plan for multiple days of exploring this one as the entire event lasts just about two weeks!
Weekly Events Lead Up to the Vintage Grand Prix
The two weeks leading up to the races in the Vintage Grand Prix are full of car-focused events all over the city.
There is a kick-off classic car rally, a black-tie gala, car cruises/parades in many neighborhoods (often including Homestead, Squirrel Hill, and downtown), and a whole lot more- and that is all before the famed international car show and race during the final weekend of the event!
As such, for those who consider themselves fans of classic cars, or simply want to get excited before race weekend, a number of events are available during this one. But for us, we were all about race weekend.
Explore the Car Show During Race Weekend
While we often think about the Vintage Grand Prix for the races that occur on the final weekend, the final two days of the event also doubles as the premier car show for the festival.
So while you can go to Schenley Park and Bob O'Connor golf course to enjoy the races (more on that below), one of the coolest parts about the Vintage Grand Prix is the hundreds of classic cars and motorcycles that make their way to the golf course section of the park as well.
To say that there are classic cars as far as the eye can see is an understatement, and we were blown away by all of the gorgeous cars lined up by model type throughout the golf course. So while simply seeing one type of classic car is a great day, this one will blow away your expectations with many cars of each style lined up in their respective rows!
Enjoy the Races on Saturday and Sunday
While the car show portion of the Vintage Grand Prix is a treat on its own right, the real gem is the vintage car race.
The race schedule for the weekend typically features test laps on Saturday morning and time trials in the afternoon. Those who wish to ride in a classic car can often make a donation ($40 in 2019) around lunch on Saturday in order to do a ride-along in a classic car as well.
On Sunday, warm-ups often last until about 10am, an opening ceremony occurs at approximately 11am, and the races occur from 12 to 5pm.
This is important to highlight as visitors to the Grand Prix may not be able to visit for the entire two-day event. As such, timing your visit appropriately will ensure you have the best experience.
Want to see cars at the fastest speeds? A visit Sunday afternoon for the proper race is for you. Want to go when the weather is at its best? You may need to be a bit more flexible for an early-morning visit (for heat) or based on daily conditions (for rain).
During the scheduled test laps, time trials, and races, numerous cars can be found on the track and you will not have to wait long until you see a classic car zooming along the course. During my visit during time trials on a Saturday, a car sped by every couple of minutes. So, whether you want to make a quick visit or make a day out of it, seeing classic cars zoom around Schenley Park will be in your future.
A Few Pittsburgh Vintage Grand Prix Notes
To wind this one down, we have to have a few caveats for this particular event that are worth keeping in mind.
First, the Pittsburgh Vintage Grand Prix occurs towards the end of July each year, and in many recent years has been exceptionally hot. Considering that the car show portion of the event is held on the Bob O'Connor golf course with limited shade options, you'll likely be out in the sun for a good portion of your visit- so plan accordingly.
Likewise, parking is a bit difficult for this event. Flagstaff Hill is opened up for parking with a $20 donation and shuttles exist to take guests around the park, but beyond this street parking in Squirrel Hill and Oakland fills up quickly. As such, do not be surprised if you find that you'll have to park well over a mile away if you are not one of the first arrivals in the morning. The festival really is that popular, and if you can visit without driving your own car to the area, even better.
Overall, the Pittsburgh Vintage Grand Prix is one of the premier events to take place in the city each year, and is one we look forward to returning to again and again- for the races and the many events leading up to race day!
The Pittsburgh Vintage Grand Prix occurs each July in Schenley Park.
Looking for something to do in Squirrel Hill after visiting the Grand Prix? Check out our neighborhood guide by clicking the previous link!