Okay, I have a new favorite event. Who knew Pittsburgh could be so inviting? I mean, I will admit that the races in Pittsburgh had hardly crossed my mind, even though they have been staging vintage races in Schenley Park now for 33 years, and I knew that the Allegheny Chapter had a terrific corral there every year.

But Pittsburgh? Isn’t the Steel City one of those broken-down rustbelt venues, where you get depressed just looking at the place? I guess that’s the stereotype that I had lurking in my subconscious, a dystopian wasteland of rundown buildings and shuttered smelters, everything drably painted in tones of gray and sepia.

Wrong again.

For one thing, the countryside is beautiful, with green rolling hills in all directions; and the city itself is quite spectacular, with a high-rise downtown core framed by bridges—an abundance of bridges, bridges wide and narrow, high and low, bridges crossing the Allegheny River, the mighty Monongahela, and finally the mighty Ohio River, which starts at the confluence of those two great pioneer pathways. What American child has not read the history of those rivers, and their importance to westward expansion? And here we were in the fabulous Restaurant Le Mont, overlooking the whole thing: the rivers, the bridges, the city itself.

I guess I should mention the cars.

But first, let’s talk about the people, for that’s what the Club is all about. From the moment I walked into the Hoffbrau Haus, I was surrounded by friends in a biergarten setting. Boisterous, fun—and with a special Hoffbrau Haus Pittsburgh Vintage Grand Prix pilsner—the evening confirmed the chapter’s slogan: A Drinking Club With A Car Problem. I met so many people who are enthusiastic about the event, enthusiastic about their region, enthusiastic about their cars, enthusiastic about the BMW Car Club of America that I felt privileged to be a part of the celebration, and sorry I had waited so long to make my way to the three-rivers area.

And that was before the real fun got under way.

Although I missed the driving tour on Friday, I heard plenty about it from the people who enjoyed it. I know what kind of work it takes to put together a successful tour, so I am in total admiration of Greg Calvimontes, who designed the tour, I believe. In addition, Calvimontes and his wife, Erin, coordinated the dinner Friday night, as well as backing up the chapter’s PVGP coordinator, Eric Zagrocki, in making sure that everything went well at the weekend corral.

I have to say that if I had any doubts about this event—I mean, I’ve been to a few car shows, and more than one or two vintage races—they were all dispelled as I made my way through the beautiful winding roads up through the hills of Schenley Park. What a venue—no wonder the sports-car junkies were drooling three decades ago! (Apparently, city officials were not well informed as to the nature of vintage-car racing; they evidently believed they were about to witness a gentle procession of stately antiques, but by the time they discovered the truth, the event was an established success.) 

The BMW Club corral was—well, I have been to a few events, as I say, and I have to admit that the Schenley Park corral was simply spectacular. The Legends Of The Autobahn concours in Monterey may have a few more cars, but not many; this year the Alleghenians attracted more than 300 BMWs to their strategic spot high on German Hill! I am not sure whether the Hoffbrau Haus pilsner had anything to do with it, but the lunch was terrific, and quite popular. The weather was mostly sunny and hot, which was a relief after the downpours of last year, and the Allegheny Chapter can certainly check off another overwhelming success.

It may have been my first Pittsburgh visit, but I assure you, it will not be my last.—Satch Carlson