When it comes to road racing in the United States, there aren’t too many places more iconic than Watkins Glen, New York. It’s the home to an annual NASCAR competition, the former site of Formula 1 races and home base for any number of automotive showcases. It’s also a role model for the Chester County city of Coatesville, which will be hosting 60 classic autos in its sixth Invitational Vintage Grand Prix Sept. 15–17.
Kicking off in 2016, the event has grown from a small single-day race to a three-day experience that includes a preview party, a cruise night and the competition itself. More than 5,000 spectators are expected at Saturday’s festivities.
“The idea for the Grand Prix was to make it evocative of Watkins Glen in the late 1950s and early ’60s—and even before that,” says Bob Turner, a member of Wilmington-based Brandywine Motorsports Club and a steward at the event. “We want to bring great cars to the streets of Coatesville.”
There is no “race” per se. Rather, cars take off, one at a time, every five minutes and negotiate the 2.2-mile road course through the streets of Coatesville. There are awards for fastest driver in a variety of classes. The ultimate prize is the Brian Hoskins Trophy, which goes to the driver who best displays sportsmanship, skill and safety on the course.
“When someone came up with the idea of a grand prix in Coatesville, people said, ‘Are you kidding me?’ There were a lot skeptics,” says James Logan, Coatesville’s city manager. “But organizers wanted to bring a cool event to the community and bring in car enthusiasts to put the city on the map. They wanted to show the new opportunities for revitalization.”
Proceeds from the Vintage Grand Prix benefit Coatesville’s parks and recreation activities, with the goal of “improving the quality of life,” says Logan.