By Aleita Hermanowski
Alain Raymond, a six-time racer and two-time winner in the Pittsburgh Vintage Grand Prix, has been fascinated with automobiles since he was a teenager growing up in Lebanon. His first car was a Fiat 600, a distant cousin of the 1964 Fiat Abarth 1000 TC he started racing in 2002. “I started reading auto magazines as a kid, and fell in love with the Fiat Albarth. I promised myself that one day I’d have one,” says Alain.
Based in Quebec, Alain has been an automotive journalist for many years. Now retired, he worked as a professional technical translator and manager of translation services for 40 years in both the private and public sectors. In the early 80s he founded his own translation firm in Ottawa, specializing in the automotive field. He still writes a column for Paris’ La Vie de L’Auto, and covers international vintage racing events for various Canadian automotive publications.
Alain is an enthusiastic fan of the Pittsburgh Vintage Grand Prix.
“I love it for several reasons,” he says. “Pittsburgh is the only city in North America that holds a vintage street race. I love the ambiance. To me, it is a fiesta; a celebration of the automobile. Because of the spectators it is very retro in its atmosphere. This is how they used to race in Europe back in the 50’s, in the streets.”
He also enjoys the challenge of Schenley Park’s twisty, narrow terrain. His 1964 Fiat Abarth 1000 TC handles twists and turns with ease.
“It is challenging, but my car is small and nimble. I can pass much larger and more powerful cars, which I can’t do on a track. My car is at an advantage because it is made for these kinds of roads, but regardless of the car one is driving there is still no room for error.”
In 2013 Alain hit a curb and blew a tire. “I was fine,” he says, “I just ruined the wheel and didn’t win my category that year.”
It’s easy to see why he is thrilled that the “Marques of Italy” are being featured this year, and has volunteered to manage the Marque of the Year race. “Frankly, I like everything about Italy,” says Alain. “I’m excited that the 2015 Fiat FreakOut National Convention is also being held at the Pittsburgh Vintage Grand Prix. Italian cars have a glorious and interesting history, and are part and parcel of Italian DNA,” he chuckles.
Alain is an avid collector of cars. “Yes, it’s a sickness,” he laughs. “At last count I had six. I just got one last week, an Alfa Romeo.”