Every August, hundreds of thousands of car enthusiasts flock to Michigan for two of the largest “autocentric” events in the country, the Woodward Dream Cruise and the Back to the Bricks car show which take place August 17th. Both events are free and offer the throngs of spectators the opportunity to view thousands of hot rods, muscle cars, restomods, classic, sports, and special interest cars from not only North America but as far away as Europe and Australia.
Due to the size and popularity of both the WDC and B2B, a full venue of supporting events have grown up around each one from August 12th through the main event on the 17th. But that is where the events’ similarities end, except for the fact that one of the biggest attractions to both of the events is the huge number of Corvettes which turn out to join the festivities. Separated by sixty miles, the Woodward Dream Cruise takes place along several miles of Woodward Avenue spanning several Detroit suburbs, while the Back to the Bricks event consumes the entire downtown of Flint, Michigan.
Different Ways to Experience the Same Passion
In 2012, Corvettes on Woodward had a Corvette owner bring their car all the way from their home in Sweden to be a part of the rolling Corvette cruise down the strip.
The two events also differ in the format for both the spectator and the participant. The Woodward Dream Cruise is a rolling parade along miles of the infamous Woodward Avenue, street racing’s epicenter during the 1950’s, 1960’s and early 1970’s. Spectators line both sides of the of the eight-lane boulevard from early morning until night to view the thousands of special interest automobiles which slowly cruise up and down the strip. Conversely, the Back to the Bricks event is a static car show for every classification of special interest cars, which virtually fills up all of the closed downtown streets of historic Flint.
Both the Bricks’ and the Dream Cruise’s impressive main events are supported by equally impressive, exciting Corvette events; the Corvette Reunion, which is part of Saturday’s huge Bricks event, and Corvettes On Woodward, which takes place during the pre-event week of Detroit’s Dream Cruise. Both of the Corvette events have become nationally known and Vette owners come from all over the country to be a part of the two largest Corvette events in Michigan. As a matter of fact, in 2012, COW had a Corvette owner bring their car all the way from their home in Sweden to be a part of the rolling Corvette cruise down the strip.
Larry Courtney’s annual Corvettes on Woodward will attract over 500 Corvettes to participate in an almost four mile long Y-body parade down Woodward Avenue to benefit the Open Hands Food Pantry. The green flag falls on Courtney’s event at 10 AM on Wednesday, August 14th, at GM’s Heritage Center, where a $10 donation to benefit the Open Hands Food Pantry will allow you to view a selection of General Motors’ automobile collection.
A Full Day’s Fun
In the afternoon, participants convene at the Bloomfield Hills Radisson Hotel, home base of the event, for a meet-and-greet with other Corvette owners and to be briefed on the 2014 National Corvette Caravan, which Courtney captains for the state of Michigan. At 7 PM the police show up to block off Woodward Avenue for the 500+ Corvettes to parade, two abreast, from the Radisson’s parking lot, ten miles down Woodward Avenue to the food pantry located at Eleven Mile Road. A food or cash donation is required to be a part of the parade, and the procession spans almost four miles.
Thursday, Courtney has arranged tours of the Lingenfelter Collection in Brighton, and on Friday a tour of Katech in Clinton Township followed by a tour of the Stahls Automotive Foundation in Chesterfield. All tours require a small donation to benefit the food pantry, and space is limited so you need to contact Courtney early to reserve a spot – no guarantees that there is still room this year, but you can contact him via email or by phone at 586-876-6923 and see.
Hitting the Bricks
The Corvette Reunion takes place on the same day as the Bricks main event and is technically show within a show. Organized five years ago, this is officially the fourth year of Reunion, which has grown exponentially since its inception. Gary Drago, chairman of the Reunion since its beginning and co-founder of the event, expects in excess of 650 Corvettes at this year’s show. The Corvette Reunion has grown so large that it has attracted national attention, including the participation of the National Corvette Museum.
It is important to understand that the Reunion is organized separately from the Bricks event even though the Reunion is assigned street space by the Bricks committee. Like the larger show, there is no charge to be a part of the event and show your Corvette; however, if you want to compete for trophies and awards there is a small charge to offset the costs, which up until this year have been covered by the four Flint Corvette clubs.
The larger Bricks car show gives no awards or trophies to the cars. But with costs exceeding $10K due to the size of the event, this year the Corvette Reunion will charge only those Corvettes being judged and competing for the special “brick trophies” commemorating Saginaw Street, the historic hundred-year-old brick street in downtown Flint. Flint, known appropriately as Vehicle City, is the home of several automobile manufacturers and support industries. Chevrolet, Buick, and GM claim Flint as their birthplace and perhaps most importantly Flint is the original home of the Chevrolet Corvette.
Anthony Bowling, president of TrendSettas Corvette Club and the co-founder of the Reunion, says that one reason the event has grown so quickly is the vast array of all generations and styles of Corvettes on display, especially those cars that have been restomodded, customized or personalized. The event is such a large part of the Bricks event that it takes up all of Martin Luther King Boulevard and surrounding streets. Those owners who want to show their Corvette should arrive early. Though the gates open at 6:30 AM, enthusiastic car owners begin lining up several hours in advance to insure they get a prime location to show their car.
This year could see the Reunion top 700 cars if Larry Courtney can get a large contingent from Corvettes on Woodward to join in the Flint event. Last year Courtney participated in the Reunion individually, and this year Drago hopes that the founder of Corvettes on Woodward will bring along a couple hundred other Corvette owners. Courtney says that in the past it has been difficult to get many of the COW participants to attend the Reunion in deference to the Dream Cruise, which is internationally recognized and well known.
The Reunion which began less than five years ago is not as well known but has become the largest all Corvette event in Michigan. But each year more and more enthusiasts realize that the events are not mutually exclusive. Friday night on Woodward at the Dream Cruise is equally as exciting as Saturday, so it is possible to do the Dream Cruise on Friday afternoon and night and do the Reunion on Saturday. And if you are a real “car nut” you can leave Flint at 3 PM on Saturday and be back on Woodward an hour later. Whatever you decide, if you are a Corvette enthusiast you are sure to catch Corvette fever the third week of August in Michigan.