Owner's Club News
The 2019 Alfa Romeo Owner’s Club Convention is going to be a unique event in the annuls of AROC Conventions. Alfa Owner has covered most all of the plans that make this years convention consistent and familiar with past AROC conventions. In this final installment, we’re going to cover some of the reasons why you should probably come early and stay later than you would at previous conventions because this one has some events that have never happened before.
The theme of the 2019 convention is the “Cortile della Corsa”, the “Courtyard of Racing”. In the entire history of the club there has not been a convention who’s theme has paid homage to Alfa’s Racing History. Holding it in conjunction with the longest running racing event on city streets in North America seems apropos.
The Convention takes place in conjunction with the Pittsburgh Vintage Grand Prix, the “PVGP”. It’s the nation’s largest vintage street race with 10 days of racing, car shows, parties, parades and motorsport events. The 2019 celebration is the 37th annual race through the streets of Schenley Park. 18 holes of Golf Course with 17 individual car shows. All segmented by country and marque. Just over 4000 cars. Attributed as being the 8th largest car show in the world. But the cars shows are more like a tailgate party for the race, albeit with judging going on at many of the shows.
The PVGP is also a charity event - with a mission to produce a world-class vintage automotive event to raise funds for autistic and intellectually/developmentally disabled individuals in the Pittsburgh region. Because of the generous support from volunteers and sponsors the PVGP has donated $5.5 million since 1983, including a record $410,000 last year. You should know that $6 from each night of your stay is going to support the PVGP charities.
The PVGP was founded in 1983, with the help of volunteers from the Sports Car Club of America and the Vintage Sports Car Club of America. Entrants then and now race on what has become known as one of the most challenging vintage courses in the country. It’s on city streets. It’s an off-camber, mid-crested center, four story high bridges, 300 foot deep ravines, lichen encrusted stone walls with hairpins and serpentines that make it a white knuckle drive for even experienced drivers. It’s challenging. As David Hobbs once told me, “I raced there, not under my own name of course” No-one from the modern era of racing wants to be compared to Fangio or Nuvolari. But they still want to drive here. And you get to enjoy the entire spectacle on Sunday from Turn 9 on the course.
Turn 9 on the race course is the VIP area for Cortile participants. It’s the site of the tree-lined and shady Westinghouse Pond. Designed in the 1930’s, the bronze monument and the surrounding landscape, including the pond, trees, and black granite benches surround the the sculptures: The bronze “The Spirit of American Youth,” the figure of a young man taking inspiration from the life of Westinghouse, described by art critics as “the finest portrayal of American boyhood.” The center portion of the monument depicts Westinghouse between a mechanic and an engineer.
On Sunday afternoon, you’ll enjoy the views as the racers come straight at you, jockeying for position as they enter into the near hairpin apex directly in front of the statue. If they've set themselves up correctly, you’ll see them pass as they exit up through the green tunnel of trees. If not, you’ll hear the groan of gears as the transmission has to once again take a follower position. Sunday is race day. Sunday is “Wine on 9”. The wine tasting is courtesy of Bob Mazza at Mazza Vineyards. You may just meet Bob and his 4C taking in some laps at Time Trials on Thursday. Bob has created a special gift set of bottles just for the the Cortile della Corsa Convention that you’ll be sampling during the opening ceremonies and parade that starts right at Turn 9. That’s why you should stay later than you do at most other conventions! It’s Vintage Racing at it’s very finest. It’s what you parents and grandparents watched in the 1920’s and 30’s and you won’t see it anywhere else in the country quite like Pittsburgh!
Why should you arrive early?
Wednesday starts with a Downtown Parade. The day begins with a morning parade with Alfa Romeos leading the multi-marque event. No where else in the country has there been an Alfa Romeo parade of cars into a major city with a police escort! The Alfa Romeo parade culminates in a display at Point State Park. Point State Park is where the Headwaters of the Ohio River start with the convergence of the Allegheny River from the north and the Monongahela River from the south: It's the "Three Rivers" for which Pittsburgh is famous! For those not displaying a car it’s a great site to visit in the public park.
Point State Park was the home to the French Fort Duquesne and later the British Fort Pitt. It’s the site where The Seven Years War got underway. It was the First Global War ever fought and involved every European great power of the time and spanned five continents, affecting Europe, the Americas, West Africa, India, and the Philippines. It was started when a 22 year old Lt. Colonel George Washington ambushed a small French force just south of Pittsburgh on May 28, 1754. You can read about the Forts inside the rampart Museum, right at The Point.
Pittsburgh is a walking city. Lots to see. Be sure to check out the other three PVGP Car show locations just a few blocks away in historic Market Square and in the glass “cathedral” of PPG Plaza and the US Steel Building Plaza. You can also just register for a “Just Ducky” Duckboat Tour, see the shows, and even more of the city, from the water. Speaking of, stay hydrated! Because Wednesday night is the PVPG’s Tune Up Party, dubbed the first or second best society page party of the year since it’s inception and Alfa Romeo has a featured spot!
Friday night is a strolling dinner reception at the historic Pittsburgh Golf Club. The Club, established in 1896, boasts a rich history. Andrew Mellon, Henry Clay Frick and Philander C. Knox were among the Club’s early members. A strolling dinner is a variety of delicious courses that will be brought out by servers as you are mingling throughout the facility and balcony of the club.
The Alfa Romeo race drivers are invited to bring their race cars up from the paddock, just over the hill, for the evening celebration allowing you to meet them and check out their cars while they check our yours. Friday is when we are going to pre-stage all of the Alfa’s so we look great for the 250,000 people that will wander about the park on Saturday and Sunday where Alfa Romeo is The Spotlight Car for the 2019 PVGP. We’ll make any needed adjustments to parking that evening. It’s also a great opportunity for those without an Alfa to get an idea where the public parking is for the next two days. All of the PVGP Events during the weekend are free admission to the public, much like the entire park has been since it became public in 1910.
Saturday, is Alfa Romeo judging, but it’s also judging for the Cortile Italian Car Show. There will be a multi marque award winners for the Cortile announced at noon in the clubhouse and the winners will be asked to move their cars to the Winners Circle, around the 17th hole. Enjoy lunch inside the air conditioned historic landmark and drinks at the cash bar. The Weekend pass for people displaying their cars is $150 which includes some great goody bags stuff, parking and lunch for both days for two people. Additional lunches, and for those not driving an Alfa is $35 person. But that gets you lunch on Saturday and Sunday and a VIP Pass to “Wine on 9” Sunday.
On Saturday afternoon, you’re probably going to want to wander around the other 17 car shows at the PVGP and stop every once in a while to watch the qualifying.
Be sure to check out British Car Day with over 750 cars. It’s only there on Saturday. The race track runs right through the car shows so you’ll be able to see the cars on the track. You may even want to wander over to the Mini Track Rides and book some time to go around the track with some race drivers. S
Saturday night is the banquet back at the DoubleTree Hilton host hotel, but don’t have too much fun, because you want to arrive early enough on Sunday to take a shuttle down to the PVGP Paddock and get back to the VIP Area at “Wine on 9” by 11am for the opening ceremonies! Then it’s time for an afternoon of vintage racing from the best viewing spot on the track.
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