Eric Killorin

Sat Jun 29 2013 14:37:09 GMT+0000 (Coordinated Universal Time)

The sun was shining, engines were revving and 40 vintage sports cars were in place at the starting line. It was a great day for a race.

People lined up in front of the starting line to watch pre-1959 vintage Bentleys and MGs race one at a time up the Hershey Hill Climb course at the Elegance at Hershey's Grand Ascent. Spectators could see pre-war and post-war cars ranging in many different makes, models and colors.

The Grand Ascent, sanctioned by the Vintage Sports Car Club of America, the oldest club in America dedicated to the preservation and use of sports cars, began at 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Friday and will continue from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday.

Drivers raced up the difficult 0.7-mile course reaching speeds of about 40 mph trying to beat the clock and score a time under a minute.

The course includes four hairpin turns, which makes driving difficult, driver William Farnsworth who raced a 1928 Bentley Model 4 ½ said. Racers have to time their turns.

Drivers raced multiple times throughout the day, each time aiming to beat the time they had before. Times ranged from about a minute to a minute and a half.

The time to beat Friday was 53:30 set by Wayne Carini from the popular vintage car television show "Chasing Classic Cars" on the Velocity channel. Carini raced a 1959 Rutan Special, which came in second place at last year's race with a time of 54:06. This year, he says his goal is to take first.

But the drivers at this race aren't win-at-all-cost competitive. They enjoy the low-key, friendly atmosphere of the competition and seem to agree that the best part of racing is the camaraderie with other drivers, even drivers with well-known names.

Carini wasn't the only recognizable name at the race. Former Philadelphia Eagles football coach Dick Vermeil also participated and will race again Saturday as the event continues.

"Racing is the total equalizer of social status," racer and VSCCA board member David George said. "You could be a multimillionaire or you could not. We help each other. We loan each other parts. We have a good time."

No trophies or awards are given to drivers with the fastest time. The Grand Ascent is more about the cars and the relationships made with other drivers.

"There's no money or glory in vintage racing," George said. "The car should be the star of the event, not the driver."

George raced a 1957 Lotus Super 7 Friday, and Saturday he will race a 1927 Amilcar.

In addition to the races, spectators can participate in charity rides in the vintage cars for $50 to support the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation and the Antique Automobile Club of America's library and museum in Hershey.

The Elegance at Hershey continues Saturday with a 5K run at 7:45 a.m., round two of the Grand Ascent and a gala dinner party and charity auction and will conclude Sunday with a showing of more than 60 collector cars displayed at The Hotel Hershey.

By Abbey Zelko |
June 15, 2013 at 8:00 AM, updated June 15, 2013 at 8:05 AM

Tuner Joe

Sat Jun 29 2013 16:11:07 GMT+0000 (Coordinated Universal Time)

Driver asleep at the switch.