Now in its third year, the MINI Track Rides program is a huge success and one of our most exciting sponsor opportunities. Three new MINI’s are custom wrapped and showcased at all Grand Prix events. During the race weekends, rides are offered on the track to sponsors, giving guests a truly unique way to see the Grand Prix. The MINI Coopers are custom designed to reflect this year’s sponsors. Our trained drivers will take you around the actual race track for an experience and view you can only get from inside a car.
Thanks to the tireless efforts of Vince Longo Jr., several new sponsors have been added for this year. MINI of Pittsburgh remains the title sponsor of the Track Rides. Eyetique returns as a full car sponsor. Phillip DiLucente has stepped up to sponsor a full car and we welcome Peppers Eyeware as a new car sponsor. Sign-A-Rama in Gibsonia is sponsoring the program and will make everybody look god as they provide the vehicle graphic wraps. The Pitt Stop Mini Club is a sponsor again this year and we welcome Leon Dixon as one of the drivers.
There are slots available for you to catch a ride at Pitt-Race for the July 13/14 weekend and at Schenley Park for the July 20/21 weekend. Sponsorship of the track rides consists of purchasing a group of nine seats for one lap of the Grand Prix course either at Pitt-Race or Schenley Park. Support a great cause and experience the Pittsburgh Vintage Grand Prix from the track! If your organization or group is interested in purchasing some rides, please e-mail Vince Longo Jr. for details
The Mini Track Rides idea materialized because of the hard work of Vince Longo Jr. and Chris Longo of MGBClassics.com, and Chris Lasko of MINI of Pittsburgh who supplies the vehicles. The Longo brothers have the additional responsibility of driving the MINIs to most of the Grand Prix events – with 10 days of activities, that’s a lot of driving!
It’s the perfect combination of three groups coming together to make our event more special and raising money for charity at the same time. They have teamed up to raise over $15,000 for the developmentally disabled individuals at the Autism Society of Pittsburgh and Allegheny Valley School!
In 2012 The Pittsburgh Vintage Grand Prix returned for it s 30th year to raise money for the Autism Society of Pittsburgh and Allegheny Valley School, and MINI Coopers took center stage between races.
For the second year in a row, MINI Track Rides offered racing enthusiasts and charitable donors alike a chance to get a part of the racing action at Pittsburgh International Race Complex and Schenley Park.
“I feel I bring the racing as close to the spectators without [them] actually being a racer,” said Vince Longo, who both acted as organizer and driver for the program.
Longo wanted to help raise money for the charities in a way that would not mean missing out on the excitement of driving. He organized MINI Track Rides in 2011, allowing sponsors to have their logos on the vehicles in exchange for a donation. Proceeds were generated in addition by offering rides around the tracks in between each race heat, as well as during lunch breaks.
Each driver, Vince, his brother Chris Longo, and Melissa Clay, all commented on the great cornering ability of the MINIs.
“With the tight turns almost tailor-made for a MINI, from a driver’s point of view, you couldn’t ask for a better handling car on the Schenley Park race course,” said Vince. The course consists of twenty turns, allowed the MINI drivers to give their riders a thrill well worth their donation. Rides at Pitt-Race had fewer turns, but much higher speeds. Children, adults, and yes, even a 90-year-old thrill-seeker all emerged from the MINIs exasperated, thrilled, and many eager to go again.
“Even at track speeds, the MINIs were engineered for this type of spirited driving, and the tires, brakes, and suspension performed perfectly during the entire Vintage Grand Prix,” noted Vince. The cars performed incredibly well day after day, never needing servicing or special attention.
The program meant a very hectic schedule for the drivers. They participated nearly every day of the 10 day Grand Prix, whether it meant driving the cars or simply showcasing them at events such as the Blacktie Gala, Walnut Street Car Show or the Squirrel Hill Parade. They were thrilled to be part of the experience and to see such a great turnout.
“It was nice to see the businesses, the people, and the community come together to support a greater cause,” said Vince.
He also noted that none of this would have been possible without the cooperation of Chris Lasko, Motoring Manager of MINI of Pittsburgh, as well as MINI Corporate. “Where else can you take a brand new car off of the showroom floor, use it as a race car for a week and it never misses a beat?” he said.
MINI didn’t just lend one car, they offered Vince three MINIs–one enhanced with the John Cooper Works package for him to drive, and the others MINI Cooper S models. Vince could not disguise his excitement when the JCW Mini was lent to him, and he continued smiling throughout the Grand Prix.
MINI of Pittsburgh happily returned as a sponsor this year, and were joined by Shop n Save, Eyetique, Merlot Vango, PittStop Mini Club, MGBClassics.com, and Phil DiLucente, Esquire.
Vince was ecstatic to find a car company as dedicated to helping others as MINI.
“The MINI Cooper brand really stands by their image- they are about doing the right thing, and helping out the community. No other car company could put together this huge and exciting program benefitting the charity.”