There is nothing in the world like the Woodward Dream Cruise. It takes place every year for one Saturday in August and brings over 1 million car enthusiasts to southeast Michigan. Over 40,000 vehicles cruise a 15-mile stretch of Woodward Avenue and re-create a scene that took place every night along this road in the ’50s, ’60s, and ’70s. By sheer numbers the Dream Cruise is the largest of the automotive events in Southeast Michigan. It is by no means the only event and location that draw people to the Motor City. With the large number of car-oriented activities that take place, the Autopalooza.org website serves as a clearing house and info center for all things automotive for the area. The site is supported by The MotorCities National Heritage Area, visitdetroit.com, and Pure Michigan.
The Autopalooza.org Tour started in Dearborn on the Saturday prior to the Dream Cruise weekend. We were headquartered right around the corner from the Henry Ford, which includes the famous museum and Greenfield Village. The museum is always a highlight of our week in the Detroit area. Sunday we headed one hour north to the annual Rockin’ Rochester Car Show then onto the famous Baker Restaurant Cruise, which takes place every Sunday during the summer in Milford.
Monday was a very full day for the Road Tourians. We started at the historic Nankin Mills for an interesting tour of that early Ford facility. Then it was onto see the Roush Collection in Plymouth and a visit to the Plymouth History Museum. We wrapped up our afternoon with a stop at Vanguard Motors to see their huge inventory of special-interest vehicle that are all for sale.
The fun continued on Tuesday with a very special visit to Fairlane, the original Henry Ford Estate. The home and grounds are under extensive renovation and not open to the general public. We were very fortunate to get a chance to see some of the beautiful grounds and get filled in on the progress of the restoration project. It was a short drive to the Automotive Hall of Fame, which is located next to the Henry Ford Museum. We were greeted at Motor City Solutions by owner Jeff Adwell and manager Gwen Russell. They were ready for our visit with a great lunch and a tour of their extensive restoration and build shop facility. Thanks to Jeff, Gwen, and the entire team for a great stop at Motor City Solutions. We finished our busy Tuesday at Watson Racing. Among many other operations, Watson is the build shop for the Ford Performance Cobra Mustangs. It was a great behind-the-scenes look at what goes into those potent Cobras.
Wednesday kicked off early with a 7:30 a.m. drivers’ meeting. It was a 90-minute drive to the Michigan International Speedway (MIS) where we were given a one-hour tour of the huge facility. It was then time to get in our own vehicles to take some laps around the famous racetrack. To say it was exciting does not begin to describe the thrill. Thanks to everyone at MIS who made us feel so welcome. It was then on to the Gilmore Car Museum in Hickory Corners, just north of Kalamazoo. The Gilmore is the largest automotive museum in the country and is always one of the high points of our Michigan week. It was then a two-hour drive to our hotel in Madison Heights.
Thursday began with a tour of the beautiful Meadow Brook Hall mansion, which was the home to the Dodge family and their descendants for many years. From Meadowbrook we traveled onto Pontiac where we got a chance to see the amazing M-1 Concourse facility, which includes private garages and a full road race course. On our way back to Madison Heights we visited Cranbook House and Gardens. Friday many of our group headed back to Pontiac to be part of the Road Kill magazine drags while other checked out the activities up and down Woodward Avenue.
Saturday was the day we had all looked forward to the entire week. The official Woodward Dream Cruise begins early and continues all day. The crowds are overwhelming but we had a special Road Tour area in Memorial Park in Royal Oak and we were right in the center of everything. It is an event that you have to see and experience for yourself to understand the magnitude. It was a perfect ending to a week filled with some of the greatest automotive-related functions and attractions that Southeast Michigan has to offer. If you want to be part of the Dream Cruise experience then join us in August as the Autopalooza.org Tour returns to the Motor City.