Unless you take it in yourself, it’s hard to grasp the scope of Detroit’s annual Woodward Dream Cruise. Calling it “big” simply doesn’t do it justice. It’s more than thousands of hot rods, collector cars, special-interests and Corvettes rolling on a 16-mile-long stretch of the famed cruising strip, up through the Motor City’s leafy suburbs.
It’s more like a cultural happening for Motown that brings out just about a million people. Some show up alone or with a few family and friends and park their lawn chairs along the route. Car clubs rent space along the avenue and host their own sub-event, while many companies within and outside of the auto industry host viewing parties that typically involve grilled burgers, cold drinks and more.
Even the cities through which Woodward Avenue runs have a different take on it, hosting different events in the days leading up to and on that big, third Saturday every August. In that regard, the Woodward Dream Cruise is not just a solitary event. It’s a collection of perhaps hundreds of smaller events linked only by the date of the Dream Cruise itself. From there, you make it yours.
The Dream Cruise marked its 22nd happening in 2016 and for the past several years, one of larger ancillary events leading up to it has been Corvettes on Woodward, which is held on the Wednesday of “Dream Cruise Week,” as it has come to be known locally. Launched by ambitious enthusiast Larry Courtney, Corvettes on Woodward brings together hundreds of Vettes for an afternoon of camaraderie before they all roll out onto Woodward for an impressive show of fiberglass force. There’s a charity component to it, too, with participants paying $10 that this year went to a local food pantry.
Corvettes on Woodward staged in the new M1 Concourse on Woodward; a venue that promises to shift the balance of cruise-related activities in the coming years. The 87-acre complex south of the city of Pontiac, Michigan, was home to a GM truck plant, which was razed about a decade ago. The vacant property is now being transformed into an auto enthusiast’s nirvana, with “car condos” for storage and a 1.5-mile road course snaking through the property. There’s also an expansive skidpad area that’s perfect for hold perhaps 1,000 vehicles. Corvettes on Woodward was one of only several Dream Cruise-related events during the week at M1, and as the facility’s development continues its role will only grow.
There are other hotspots, too, for die-hard Corvette fans, as downtown Birmingham on the day of the cruise always sees an impressive collection of concours-quality early Corvettes. While the cruise keeps moving on Woodward Avenue, this idyllic downtown, with its upscale shops and restaurants, offers a more traditional static display of vehicles, only a block away. It’s a nice alternative for those who’d rather stroll than roll.
No matter how you take in the Woodward Dream Cruise, it’s an event that should be experienced at least once by every red-blooded enthusiast. Automotive events don’t get any more bucket list-worthy than this.
We worked hard this summer, pounding the pavement and rolling with the top down, to find the most interesting Corvettes rolling down the avenue for yet another year.
Hey, it’s a tough job and all that … Put it on your calendar for 2017 and see for yourself.