Classic car fans rev up for Woodward Dream Cruise

By Mike Fossano

It’s that time of year again when the roar of engines is heard into the wee hours of the night and the scent of burning rubber wafts from block to block. Undoubtedly one of the most divisive events in our region, the 17th annual Woodward Dream Cruise will be in full swing this weekend as people from across the country will flock to metro Detroit to watch flurries of classic cars (which tends to be a relative phrase in this case) glide up and down the Spine from Ferndale to Pontiac.

For those who live near the Woodward Corridor, you all know the headaches that the cruisers and hordes of humanity can cause when trying to drive a mere half-mile. At the same time, living in the belly of the Cruise Beast offers you a chance to walk to an event, a notion that has fast become scarce in our subdivided world.

Our lovely climate yields (potentially) six months of wintry weather, plus another two–to–three months of uncertain temperatures surrounding the Equinoxes. Add that up and we’re stuck with a mere 12 weeks of the hot summer weather that we yearn for whilst fruitlessly shoveling snow and ice from our sidewalks. Now that the Michigan State Fair has flown the coop, there aren’t many large-scale, end-of-summer events that don’t cost an arm and a leg for the average family.

It’s no secret that Detroiters are plagued with a Napoleon Complex against our neighbors to the west in Chicago, and that we take a perverse pleasure in the lack of respect shown to us nationally. The Dream Cruise, for better or worse, is a platform that is absolutely unique to Detroit. It represents many aspects that we take pride in, including the automotive industry (muscle cars in particular) and a strong sense of community.  Think back to the aftermath of the acid bath that the economy took in 2008: people from all races and political allegiances bonded together in the face of an all-out assault on the automotive industry. That’s Detroit.

The Woodward Dream Cruise at a historical glance:

– Started in 1995 in Ferndale by Nelson House and a group of volunteers; 250,000 people participated that year.

– The Dream Cruise is the world’s largest one-day automotive event, drawing 1.5 million people and 40,000 classic cars every year.

– Ted’s, Totem Pole and The Varsity, Hollywood, Wigwam and Suzie Q’s, and Big Boy were among the popular Woodward drive-ins for cruisers during the 1950s (Think Happy Days and American Graffiti).

– Now in its 17th year, the Woodward Dream Cruise is run and governed by WDC, Inc., a volunteer committee that comprises a state-registered non-profit organization with 501(c)(3) status.

– Economic impact on metro Detroit economy: $56 million each year. For comparison:

Super Bowl XL: $49.3 million

2005 MLB All-Star Game: $42 million

2006 Detroit Tigers postseason: $37 million

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