Woodward Dream Cruise 2014

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It’s the biggest annual event in Michigan. It’s the fourth largest one-day event in America. It’s the biggest car festival/cruise in the world. It’s the Woodward Dream Cruise with over 1.3 million spectators and over 40,000 classic cars, antique cars and hot rods. This year was the 20th anniversary of the event and not many people outside of Michigan know about it (other than classic car buffs, hot rod enthusiasts, drag racers, auto restorers and car people).

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I had to be in Detroit the Friday before and it was crowded with cars and spectators already – a week in advance! I returned on Wednesday, picked up my friend Steve from California at the airport and headed to the hotel taking a longer route on Woodward. Woodward was packed. Four lanes going north and four lanes going south and it was bumper-to-bumper classic car traffic at around 4 MPH. Engines rumbled, an occasional tire squealed loudly and sometimes it was hard to hear with all that Detroit muscle revving up.

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With my new automobile advertising wrap about my novel, Dream Machines, I was getting plenty of attention. My goal with this trip is to get enough publicity to sell over 2000 books through Amazon.com and barnesandnoble.com so I can attract a literary agent, who will sell my book to a big publisher. If that happens, then movie producers will be interested and that is my true main goal: to make my novel, Dream Machines, into a movie. If made (hoping some big rich Detroit leaders read this) a side benefit would be improving the negative perceptions and opinions about Detroit into positive ones. At least, that’s my plan. Know of any people like that with $5 million they would like to invest in a movie? I didn’t think so.

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Wednesday night was the only chance we would have of stopping at Duggan’s Pub on Woodward for a Big Chief burger, the burger they once served at the Totem Pole. Speaking of the Totem Pole, I stopped by the lot on Woodward where the Totem Pole was. It had turned into a Burger King for years and then they closed. They leveled the building and there is nothing but a vacant, empty lot left of what was the greatest drive-in restaurant in the world (my own opinion).

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Thursday had Steve and I cruising Woodward as much as possible (to show off my moving billboard). I had a very bad problem though. On Tuesday, my good friend and best man at my wedding, Dan Hurley died of a heart attack. Dan went to many Dream Cruises with me and his absence was a sore spot. That night we went out to dinner with his son, Neil and his wife Monica. We went to Birmingham, where the sidewalks were filled with people trying to get seats at the many fine restaurants in the area. The streets were also starting to be filled up with classic cars.

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Friday put me in a better mood. We cruised a very busy Woodward, but my friend Steve wanted to hear about actor/comedian, Robin William’s home area, because it was in the news so much about his death a few days earlier. Better than explaining, I showed him. We toured the neighborhoods and small lakes of Bloomfield Hills and the exclusive Cranbrook Institute of something or other. Robin lived in an extremely affluent part of Detroit’s suburbs along with his neighbors Mitt Romney and Lee Iacocca. In the ‘50s and ‘60s the area attracted big executives from Ford, GM and Chrysler. They let their teens play with the new demo cars they drove home from the factory. Many of those kids and their parents, drag raced on Woodward in their new GTO’s, Mustangs, Dodge Hemi’s, Corvettes and all the other muscle cars. Robin and Mitt had to have cruised all the drive-ins too. That’s a cool thought. I believe there are still a lot of auto execs living there.

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Friday night was an absolute zoo. Cars were crammed onto Woodward going about 2 MPH bumper-to-bumper for miles. It took hours to go a mile. The tree lawns, parking places and just about everywhere the crowd sat on lawn chairs or walked between the mini cruise-ins that were jammed with cool cars. TV crews were flitting around getting interviews and radio station guys were out in the street talking to people in their cars asking for a rev up (for sound).

Motorcycle police at WDC 2014

The police were out in a larger force than I’ve ever seen. At the shopping center at 13 mile and Woodward, where Chrysler has set up a ‘Mopar’ exhibit, there was a line of police motorcycles like I have never seen, other than in a movie like, ‘Blues Brothers.’ There had to be at least 30-40 motorcycles from police stations all over the Detroit area. There were cop cars everywhere as well as plenty of cops on bicycles and horses. At the Mopar exhibit, there was a lot of local hype and publicity about Dodge’s new 700+ HP Charger, ‘Hellcat,’ but it wasn’t at the exhibit…yet. They said it would be there on Saturday, but unfortunately, we had a different schedule for cruise day.

Dodge's 'Silver Bullet' ripped up Woodward in the '60s with over 600 HP.

Plymouth’s ’67 Belvedere GTX   ‘Silver Bullet’ ripped up Woodward in the ’60s with over 600 HP.

Down the street from the Mopar exhibit, and across the street from Duggan’s Pub, was GMs Corvette exhibit and next to that was a park area that was transformed into a classic car carnival. It was packed with food concessions/trucks, classic cars, hot rods, t-shirt tents, the truck from my friend Dana’s magazine ‘www.cruiz’news.com,’ several bleacher seats faced Woodward and the enormous crowd either sat and watched, or milled around enjoying the intoxicating atmosphere of motor city metal.

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It was quite an experience, but the show ended at 9:40pm when the huge presence of police blocked off Woodward and everybody had to go home. I mean, tried to go home. The small neighborhood road that the police forced people to take became jammed and it took us forever to make our way back to the hotel.

Black '57 Chevy MSU

The Saturday morning of the Dream Cruise had a chill in the air. The temps had dipped into the 40s the night before, but there was a crowd on Woodward at 8am. We headed to Ferndale. At the corner of 9 Mile Road and Woodward, 9 Mile was blocked in either direction for blocks and blocks for Ford’s ‘Mustang Alley.’ Ford and many after-market suppliers like Saleen, Rousch, Shelby and many others showed their newest Mustang designs. A large parking lot was filled with only Mustang Cobras. Then there were blocks and blocks of Mustangs of all years and models owned by private owners. In all, we figured there had to be at least 1,000 mustangs. It was unbelievable and overwhelming for this ardent Mustang fan. My Mustang was stolen, but that’s in a previous blog.

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Ford's Mustang Alley  9 Mile at Woodward

Ford’s Mustang Alley
9 Mile at Woodward

We then headed to Birmingham to see GM’s offering to the Cruise. It took us a long time to go 6 miles, but lots of people saw my mobile billboard along the way. Tee shirts under a tent dotted the sides of Woodward for miles as well as a bunch of ‘radio towers’ so people would know a radio station was broadcasting from there. Crowds surrounded various cool cars parked everywhere and anyway they could. I could tell by the crowded boulevard that this was the biggest Dream Cruise ever. Along the way, there was a row of around ten DeLoreans like the one in the movie, ‘Back to the Future,’ all with their doors open and pointing skyward. What a blast!

Radio tower WDC 2014

In downtown Birmingham, Old Woodward Avenue was closed off and wow, they had quite a show of classic cars. Since this was Birmingham, with it’s affluence, there were a lot of classic foreign cars that cruised Woodward in the ‘60s, like MGs, Triumphs, Austin Healeys, Jaguars, Rolls Royces and even an old Bentley. There was a long row of Cobras, Thunderbirds and Corvettes. On the other side of the sidewalk, in parking lots full of parked cars, there were a number of exhibits for after-market companies that do a lot of business with GM.

Ken Lingenfelter and I at the Dream Cruise

Ken Lingenfelter and I at the Dream Cruise, I’m in the Hawaiian shirt.

An old friend of mine, Ken Lingenfelter, owns one of those companies, Lingenfelter Performance Engineering. They make GM cars like Corvettes and Camaros go faster and make race cars go faster too. They build race car engines and components like superchargers. Ken showed me a new product of his; trucks he named, ‘Reapers.’ He gives trucks a go-over, performance and custom looks wise, and calls them ‘Reapers.’ They are already in some GM showrooms in Texas. Ken also showed me his personal ‘everyday car,’ a gorgeous ’67 Corvette with over 600 HP. I want to go the grocery store with him.

Ken Lingenfelter's daily ride

At the end of the street where it meets Woodward, forms a triangle where Chevrolet, this years Dream Cruise sponsor, has a large exhibit of their coolest new cars and classic Chevys. There was also a TV station, WXYZ (ABC), which is a sponsor, doing live broadcasts as well as the oldies radio station, WOMC, with their funny radio hosts, Bobby and Stacy doing a live show. Add in all kinds of food trucks, huge crowds, live music stages and you’ve got a pretty wild scene with hundreds of thousands of classic car buffs oo-ing and ah-ing  every cool car that drives by.

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When we headed back out onto Woodward we heard my radio interview. The day before, I had done a radio interview with WWJ 950 am all news, and we heard it run several times in the day and once at night. We didn’t really get all that far on Woodward, because again it was wall-to-wall classic car traffic going at a snail’s pace. At 9 pm, we saw the lights on all the police cars go on like it did Friday night just before they closed Woodward down. I hurried (you really couldn’t hurry) as fast as I could to get off Woodward. I turned the corner at 13 Mile Road and just then the cops shut down Woodward. I thought, ‘9 pm?’ I guess they wanted to end the happiness earlier that usual. Back at the hotel, I heard people moaning about the long ride back in the traffic. I felt lucky, where can I buy a lottery ticket?

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The Big Chief Burger

The Big Chief Burger

On Sunday, we finally got our chance to eat a Big Chief at Duggan’s Pub. We sat at the bar and I saw a very hard working guy, Larry Payne, owner of Duggan’s. Larry said he heard my interview that morning on WWJ, so maybe I sounded better than I thought. I said goodbye to Steve when I dropped him off at the airport. This was his second Dream Cruise year and he said it was, ‘great.’ I headed back to Cleveland, with a big smile, great memories and it helped me get over the tragedy of my friend, who loved the Dream Cruise, passing on. I’m sure that now he’s in a real, ‘Dream Machine.’

More pictures –

'59 Edsel Wagon

White '56 T-Bird

A really big unknown car with Canada plates

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Neighborhood cruise-in nights – expanded

Wow! I got a lot of feedback from all over the country about ‘neighborhood cruise-in’ nights. Not the big cruises, with thousands of classic cars and hot rods, but the local neighborhood cruise-in nights. Apparently there are thousands of cruise-in nights all across America, just like my local one on Mondays at Bearden’s Burgers, in Rocky River, Ohio.

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The other night I was in Erie, Pennsylvania on business. I wanted to catch an MLB baseball game that night, so I went to Quaker Steak & Lube, which is a sports bar with lots of big screen TVs and a few classic cars on display. One was a ‘50s Corvette convertible and another was a dragster. They had a few other classic cars, and I thought it was pretty cool how they had them displayed.

The TVs were all tuned to random ESPN stations with talking heads, but no games. The female bartender didn’t have a clue, which sports events were on TV that night, so I requested a particular Cleveland Indians/Chicago White Sox game. It took a different person a while, but they finally got the game. Then it hit me.

The sports bar obviously likes classic cars. Did they have any ‘cruise nights’ at this restaurant? “Yes,” responded the well-endowed bartender. “We have a Bike and Classic Car ‘cruise night’ every Wednesday night, but only from Memorial Day weekend through Labor Day weekend.

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I thought about it and realized this is local information that only locals would know about. I was correct in my thoughts, there must be thousands of cruise-in nights all across America. Wouldn’t it be great if there were a national listing of neighborhood cruise-in nights so visitors like me would know about them?

Well, that’s a huge undertaking and I sure don’t have the extra time in my already busy life to create one. Where I find out about different cruise-in nights is local/regional ‘cruise-in’ type magazines and websites like my friend, John Shapiro’s Cruisin Times Magazine, which is operated out of Cleveland, http://www.cruisintimes.org, and another great source out of Detroit, Michigan is Dana DeCoster, Publisher and chief floor Sweeper at Cruis’news Publications; http://www.cruisnews.com.

So, I’ve decided to start a listing of all the cruise-in sources like websites/magazines to find cruise-in nights in your area, and I need your help.

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I want to know about every cruise-in listing, website or cruise-in type magazine in America. Please respond and send them to me at my Facebook page, Dream Machines, at;

https://www.facebook.com/pages/Dream-Machines/560475744012570

If my instincts are correct, I’ll bet every region in the country has these type of cruise-in type magazines/websites. Send me your local websites and magazines, I will start this list this week and post it on my Facebook wall, or maybe I’ll start a new Facebook page. Keep reading because things have a habit of changing and maybe I can get this list on my blog as well. See ya next week and it’s getting closer to summer… time for Dream Machines to hit the street.

 

 

 

 

Classic car shows

I love 1972 and under classic cars and also the hot rods made from those classic cars. All baby-boomers wish they had kept their old cars and many of them did.

If only I would have kept some of my cars; ’52 Mercury, ’62 Alpine Sunbeam, ’62 Pontiac Bonneville convertible, ’64 Olds F-85 Jetfire, and a ’57 Lincoln convertible (it was light violet with white leather interior. I probably looked like a pimp, but it was a great car). I have no idea where I would have stored these cars even if I were smart enough to keep them. Oh well.

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The next best thing to owning a nice classic car is going to classic car/hot rod indoor shows in the winter, or in warm weather, to classic car ‘Cruise-ins’ at local hangouts that are typically listed in ‘Cruisin’ type regional magazines like, Cruisin’ Times out of Cleveland, Ohio, http://www.cruisintimes.org, or Cruis’news Publications, http://www.cruisnews.comwhich is out of Detroit, Michigan.

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Because I was sick, I missed three great shows;the Autorama, a Classic car and Hot Rod show at Cobo Center, Detroit, MI, The Cleveland, Autorama and in Dayton, Ohio, the World of Wheels I hate being sick. A friend sent some pictures – so that softened the blow.

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As I always mention, the biggest and best classic car and hot rod festival in the world is The Woodward Dream Cruise, http://www.woodwarddreamcruise.com. It is also the event in my novel, Dream Machines. The Dream Cruise is a one-day annual event, the third Saturday in August in the northern suburbs of Detroit. It is actually the second largest one-day event in America. Number one is Macy’s Thanksgiving Parade in NYC at 5 million spectators. The Dream Cruise attracts around 1.3 million spectators. More impressive is the 40,000 classic cars and hot rods.

Yes, you read correctly; forty thousand (40,000) classic cars and hot rods. I grew up on Woodward Avenue in the ‘60s and every Friday and Saturday nights all the kids and adults would cruise all the drive-in restaurants on Woodward and drag race in-between the stop lights, placed ½ mile apart.

Remember the movie, American Graffiti? Or the TV show, Happy Days? Woodward Avenue, in the 1960s, was like those shows… times a thousand. For fifteen miles, Woodward had a lot of drive-ins with roller-skating waitresses and burger wars. Each place had their own special burgers. My favorite Drive-in and burger was the, Big Chief, from the Totem Pole. You can still get it at a place called, Duggan’s Pub, on Woodward in Royal Oak, MI. It’s like biting into history.

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The northern suburbs were also the home to many auto execs from the ‘big 3,’ Ford, GM and Chrysler. Many auto execs got company cars and many times they brought next year’s model home. Their kids immediately brought out those Mustangs, GTOs, Chargers and everything else to cruise the drive-ins and drag race. There were so many people drag racing, the cops could never keep up.

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The ‘60s came to a close, kids went to war and came back to find all the drive-ins had closed. It was the end of an era. It wasn’t until years later that someone had the thought to do a ‘cruise’ on Woodward to celebrate those old days and this year will be the 20th Anniversary.

In my novel, Dream Machines, a young-couple love the Woodward Dream Cruise so much, they decided to make it their wedding day so they always will remember. A week before the Dream Cruise, they have a meet-and-greet party for both of their families. When their grandfathers meet, they recognize each other from a drag race on Woodward back in 1965 over a girl that ended in an accident. The hot-headed teen rivals swore to God that some day, some how they would finish the race. They kept their grudge for over 50 years, and the kept their old hot rods…just in case.

They challenge each other to finish the race on Woodward the coming Friday night, same as 1965, same time, same place. I can’t divulge any more than that, but I wrote it using the natural comedic circumstances along with the two grandfather’s hate for each other and it turned out pretty funny. People tell me they laughed out loud many times and smiled a lot through the story.

Can’t afford the high prices a lot of these classic cars bring? Go to a classic car show/cruise. There’s one coming soon to the Sandusky, Ohio area where Cedar Point Amusement Park is. It’s called the ‘Blue Suede Cruise’ at Summit Motorsports Park, Norwalk Ohio on July 18-20, 2014. This cruise is a blast with over 2400 cars ’72 and older, drag races, camping and a concert by the ‘Van Dells.’ See http://summitmotorsportspark.com.