The Shenley Park races are the the only vintage races run in the United States that take place on a public street. The streets in question run through the beautiful, tree-lined park in a setting reminiscent of the places these cars raced when they were new. The road is bumpy and twisty and at times the cars look to be on the edge of disaster, with nothing but driver skill and stack of hay bales between them and some immovable obstacle like a fire hydrant or a light pole. If the drivers are lucky, there’s a rock wall between them and whatever could hurt them most.
The field for PVGP mostly consists of smaller-engined cars from the 50s and 60s. I’m not a racing driver, but I would imagine that owners of vintage Trans Am cars with massive V8s or classic Le Mans cars with screaming V-12s probably stay away from this event because their cars are just too big and too fast for this kind of track. A tossable little Mini or Formula Junior is probably more suitable for Shenley Park than a 500-horsepower monster.
Speaking of Minis, Dennis Racine and Robert Hoemke in their Minis put on a fantastic show. They blitzed the rest of their field and fought closely with each other for their entire race. At times they were cornering so quickly they their cars were lifting a rear tire. Truly epic stuff that proves you don’t need massive horsepower to be quick.
My favorite spectator position in Shenley Park is on the downhill right-left-right complex called The Serpentine. To make the turn, drivers need to get as close as possible to the rock wall on the inside and then the outside of turn, but the track drops away so sharply that they usually have their inside front wheel off the ground for part of it. That means understeer and locked brakes, a really test of driver skill. Then they get to the next turn and do the same thing again (but spectators can’t see that part of the track because it’s hidden by trees.
Bonus: video of the entrance to the first turn in the Serpentine. (Sorry for the bouncy video, but it was hand-held at 70 mm.)
You really can’t go wrong with PVGP. The racing is great, the track is spectacular, and cost of admission is... zero (but you should donate some money to The Autism Society of Pittsburgh). And if you want a break from the racing, you can check out the acres and acres of car show that takes place in the park as well.
For some picture of PVGPs past, click here.