Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Alan Ross Patterson Nov. 7, 1931 - June 30, 2017 Mckeesport Native Helped Start Vintage Grand Prix

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Alan Ross Patterson Nov. 7, 1931 - June 30, 2017 Mckeesport Native Helped Start Vintage Grand Prix

Article excerpt

When an admissions officer told Alan Ross Patterson Sr. on a college visit that they could not take a campus tour, he asked for a dictionary and a bottle of Wite Out. Then, opening the book to the "c" section, he unsheathed the bottle's brush and blotted out the word he disliked the most: cannot.

His son, Alan Ross Patterson Jr., calls it the "white-out theory," a humorously stubborn reluctance to accept what most would call impossible situations, be it persuading a college admission officer to take his family on a tour after hours, or talking his way into a hotel abroad that was booked full.

It even extended to helping launch the first legally sanctioned North American street race, in his hometown of Pittsburgh. In 1983, Mr. Patterson Sr. holed up in his Shadyside garage with fellow racers, city officials and heads of Pittsburgh charities who wanted to bring vintage racing to the city.

"If you drew a circle that represented the foundation of the PVGP, Alan was in the middle," said Ted Sohier, who was at those initial meetings and has worked with Mr. Patterson Sr. since. "I don't think it was his idea, but he was just kind of at the center of everything."

Nearly 35 years later, that race - The Pittsburgh Vintage Grand Prix - still happens annually in Schenley Park. Mr. Sohier calls the Patterson family, which races as a group in the event, the "first family" of the PVGP.

Mr. Patterson Sr., who was born in McKeesport, died June 30. He was 85.

His daughter Elizabeth Gerhart remembers her father as a "very gregarious" man and a lively storyteller.

Most often those stories reflected on his personal racing career, which took him around the world from the Sebring races in Florida to races in Monaco, where he drove either one of his signature cars: a red Allard JX2 or a classic MG TD, which became the PVGP's symbol.

When he raced in Pittsburgh during his later years, his friends and family say, he did it to enjoy the sport, not as much to win.

"In later years, he really kind of backed off of it," Mr. Sohier said, noting that Mr. Patterson Sr. would often drive slower than the other contestants at the PVGP. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.