Every year in August, car enthusiasts descend on the greater Detroit area for the annual Woodward Dream Cruise. The cruise route begins on Woodward Avenue at 8 Mile Road in Ferndale, goes north 12 miles to Pontiac, Michigan, where it loops around the town and cruisers head south again back towards 8 Mile Road. Parks, shopping centers, lots and any other car-sized piece of real estate in the towns along the route are co-opted for car shows. A mind-boggling array of restored classics, muscle cars, rat rods, roadsters, art cars, performance-enhanced modern cars, monster trucks, low riders and cars that simply defy categorization are on display for the approximately a million and a half attendees.
Many people choose to cruise up and down Woodward, along which stadium seats and folding chairs under tents are set up for prime car spotting. Those that participate in the car shows generally have to keep their hot rod on display until 4 p.m., when everyone revs their engine and joins the massive cruise up and down the avenue. The Pontiac Event Area features a car show, live music, dj’s and a main street lined with cars and separate parties happening in local restaurants and bars. While the official ribbon cutting for the beginning of the 17th Annual Dream Cruise was Friday evening, people cruised all week and participated in various events surrounding the cruise.
The Dream Cruise is free for the public thanks in large part to the Big Three’s sponsorship. Ford had 9 Mile Road blocked off for it’s popular Mustang Alley, where Mustangs from every production year – and every state – preened in the sun with hoods up. In addition to a lot full of Shelby Cobras, the blue oval boys had another lot showing off various rally cars, crate engines, and even a dyno demonstration of the Boss 302 Mustang. The new 2012 Focus ST was front and center at the 9 Mile Road entrance.
Driving north on Woodward to 13 Mile Road, once you peel your eyes from the amazing park full of mouth-watering classics, Mopar feeds your muscle car jones with classic Challengers and Chargers. Offical Mopar gear was for sale, and vendors line the lot selling food, smoothies and water. Chrysler also showed off their race cars, Dodge trucks, and monster trucks. Not to be left out of the fun, FIAT rounded out the Chrysler display with 500’s, old and new.
Yet another mile up, slightly past 14 Mile Road, main sponsor Chevrolet was celebrating their 100th Anniversary in style. I got there right as it started raining, but before the torrential downpours, I was able to gawk at some beautiful Bel Airs. Camaros and Corvettes lined the footprint, with the 100th Anniversary Corvette and the 45th Anniversary Camaro top and center. Earlier in the week there was a parade of Volts, and on Saturday they were proudly displayed accompanied by several Sonics.
At this point, thunderstorms blew in and wreaked havoc in the Royal Oak area. I walked back to my car parked off Woodward in a neighborhood to see whole trees down on people’s property and fire trucks putting out electrical fires due to downed power lines. Woodward was, at one point, almost completely devoid of cars – shut down by police because of the dangerous weather. As the rain stopped, I decided to stick around, and was not disappointed – the cruisers persisted! In spite of police encouraging people to go home, by 6:30 the cars were back out on Woodward and I just hung out with everyone else along the road ogling cars until the sun went down. Like everyone else, I just wasn’t ready for the cruise to end; the heart and soul of the cruise is the people and their love for their cars.
Woodward Dream Cruise takes place yearly on the third Saturday in August. With over 40,000 cars cruising, it’s an overwhelming experience – this was my second year attending, and the accompanying photographs were taken over two very full days.Ã‚Â If you go once, you’ll want to go again; the cruise is so massive you don’t even begin to experience everything. See you next year!