Kick-Off Rallye At The 2015 Pittsburgh Vintage Grand Prix Weekend

This past week I was copied on an email that John Provich prepared about the recent Kick-Off Rallye that was held as part of the Pittsburgh Vintage Grand Prix weekend.  Clearly John enjoyed himself and with an entry list of more than 70 cars, the rallye was very successful.  With John’s permission, I have reproduced John’s email in full, supplemented by some photos kindly sent to me by Bruce Gezon and John’s photo of Smokey Joe:

To The Entire Volunteer Staff of the 33rd PVGP Kick-Off Road Rallye,

From our Car #56 hearts, we thank all of you for your work and sacrifice to provide us with another enjoyable day in our lives. You have also given us the bragging rights to once again competing in this wonderful event, now an Annual Pittsburgh Tradition.

Smokey Joe PVGP 2011

Smokey Joe (RIP)

This was our 3rd run at the PVGP Road Rallye and the first time without our teammate and Official K-9 Rallye Advisor, Smokey Joe. Thank you all for asking, Smokey Joe succumbed to the ravages of Lymphoma, after a valiant fight for live, last month. But, Smokey was with us in high spirit, as our team finished in Fifth Place. Although we were in striking distance of First Place all day long, Linda and I were equally responsible for our finish position. But, we don’t feel we lost. We competed in a well organized and super great event. How close were we to winning?

Looking at our numbers; of the top five finishers, we were third in our Timed Check Point Score, behind the Car #37 of Joseph and Karen Teplitz and the #50 Car of Robert Iseman and Joe Shaginaw. Each of these teams had the fantastic scores of 5 Points each for 5 timed check points, to our Car #56 score of 21 Points for the same 5 timed check points. You can’t fake these timed scores.

Rally -Kick-Off Rallye - 2015 - Photos 066

Ken & Jen Cheng In Their 1965 Lotus 7

In Road Rallye Questions; with our four missed questions – two less and we would have been in front of the three-way tie for a First Place Win. We would have won by an unquestionable nine points. Our Fifth Place finish was one hundredth of a minute behind the 4th Place Finish of the #40 Car of Steve and Artie Pisanelli. How competitive can any Road Rallye competition ever be? This was a super exciting Road Rallye, any competing team could have won it, novice or experienced.

We were asked our thoughts of this Bruce Gezon Rallye Master Course over the previous years of Rallye Master Chuck Larouere. My personal comment; “They are different. Each exciting in its own way, but different.” And, they should be. Without a doubt, these are two talented and creative SCCA Rallye Masters. Each one possesses his own understanding of what a Rallye should be about. They each create a memorable event. We’ve now competed in two of Chuck Larouere’s events and three events with Bruce Gezon as Rallye Master. They were all equally exciting, cerebrally stimulating, and competitive, worthy of our time and entertaining. These have been some great road rallyes. If you didn’t know or don’t remember, this is all coming from a guy who raced professional International Formula One Powerboats for many years.

No, the PVGP Road Rallye isn’t a race with F1 Powerboat speeds reaching 150 mph. But, it is still an exciting competition worthy of participation. It is pure. It is void of special influences or factory sponsored, high dollar, intervention. This is motor sport competition at its finest.   

Some of the differences Bruce brought to this 33rd PVGP Road Rallye were the Monte Carlo Timed Check Points and a colossal 26 questions. Bravo Bruce. There was no way to BS your way thru this diabolical regimen of questions. The onus was on each individual team. How alert, how astute and how exact to details are you? Our Car #56 Team had the opportunity to be better. To top it all off, somehow Bruce manages to run his Rallies on some of the most obscure roads available at every venue. How he found these exciting roads in and around Pittsburgh is utterly amazing.

I overheard another team entry ask Bruce Gezon if he’d ever won a Road Rally event. I knew Bruce won a lot of events over a 50 plus year SCCA career, but I never asked how many. I think I heard Bruce answer quietly; “I’ve won 32 National Titles.” If I am not quoting him correctly, I apologize. This is what I thought I heard. This is why I love competing against this Rally Master. You might think we’re competing team against team. Actually, we are competing against The Rally Master. It is his Road Rally. Why do you think he’s dubbed The Rally Master? 

Scoring; thanks to Jeff Hutzelman; we had the finish tally just after we enjoyed another wonderful Spaghetti Warehouse après Rally Repast. Their Chicken Parmagana is out-of-this-world delicious. The Lasagna was also super fine Italian cuisine. Speaking of fine Italian, there were two Italian Marques in the Rallye with the Fiat 500 #29 of Phillip and Patrick Burkett finishing 51st and the #70 Fiat 500 Abarth of Benjamin Jones and Paul Sprung with a 58th Place Finish. Although Linda and I are partial to “Molly” as the very best in Road Rally equipment, every Marque has appeal. 

Kick-Off Rallye - 2015 - Car 70

Benjamin Jones & Paul Sprung 2013 Fiat 500 Abarth

Gotta give special thanks to Chuck Larouere for staying on top of things as Checkpoint Coordinator and The Blue Ridge Mountain Sports Car Club for setting up and manning Checkpoint Operations. Wouldn’t doubt they brought their own timing equipment. What a great bunch of people you all are. Before the start of the Rallye, registrar, Sue MacIntyre offered she would like to get some sleep at some point. I replied; “If you and Paul got any sleep, this 33rd Rallye would never have happened.” The MacIntyres both wear a lot of hats to make this event happen. Also can’t forget Carol Gezon serving as Pre-Checker and many other tasks. The Official Starters Christina and Jim Putigano were also super important. Without having starters, we couldn’t have been finishers.

There are many people out of the over 50 Plus PVGP Road Rallye workers responsible for making this 33rd Annual PVGP Kick-Off Road Rallye the success it was. Thanks to one and all of you for making this a memorable event in our personal history and affording Linda and I the opportunity to have our Mini Copper “Molly” (Car #56) finish in 5th place. Thanks to each of you for giving of yourselves to make this an extremely exciting and successful Kick-Off event of the 33rd Running of The Pittsburgh Vintage Grand Prix. We’ll talk about you and your help all year long.

If you can, please pass our thanks and appreciation along to everyone involved. We look forward to competing again next year.

Best Regards,

Car #56 – Mini Cooper “Molly”

John Provich (Driver) and Linda E. Davis (Navigator)

And posthumously our K-9 Advisor Smokey Joe; “gone but never forgotten”         

Complete Results from the 2015 Pittsburgh Vintage Grand Prix Kick-Off Rallye can be found in the following file: Kick-Off Rallye – Official Results – 2015

As can be seen from the results there were a number of interesting cars in the field.  Seems like a good rally to take part in and also take in the other events associated with the Pittsburgh Vintage Grand Prix weekend.

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