For more than a decade, the Woodward Dream Cruise has reigned as the supreme cruise event in North America. With tens of thousands of cruising cars and upwards of a million spectators participating on only a single Saturday in August – and countless cruisers who hit the boulevard in the week leading up to the official cruise day – there is simply nothing else like the spectacle of Woodward.
Woodward Avenue, leading North out of Detroit through a myriad of suburbs, has been longtime and legendary cruising hot spot. In the heyday of the muscle car, young engineers at the various car companies would street-test new powertrains among unsuspected stoplight jockeys. Such antics gave rise to the famed “Silver Bullet” Hemi Plymouth, which held the unofficial title of the fastest car on Woodward for years, despite factory-backed competition from the likes of Jim Wangers in his hopped-up Pontiacs.
The classic drive-in restaurants that dotted Woodward in the Sixties and early Seventies, such as the Totem Pole and Ted’s, are long gone. In fact, even more recent gathering spots, such as a Big Boy restaurant that was home to a weekly gathering of Mopars, have been razed in favor of strip malls and those ubiquitous franchises.
On any given weekend in the summer, there is still cruising action on Woodward, but it’s the organized Woodward Dream Cruise that serves as the big “ball” of the cruising “social season.” The Mopar contingent is unmistakable, too, with seemingly every Road Runner or ’Cuda built seen idling up the nearly 16 miles that constitutes the cruising route.
The 2007 Woodward Dream Cruise is August 18. If you’re considering attending, find a hotel room now. Go to www.woodwarddreamcruise.com for more information.
WOODWARD DREAM CRUISE SURVIVAL GUIDE
1. Come early – very early. Take it from a local – the best times to see lots of cars in action is not the official Saturday of the cruise, but the three or fours days leading up to it. The Wednesday, Thursday and Friday evenings prior to Dream Cruise Saturday are loaded with great cars, yet comparatively free of spectators. The epicenter of cruise action is Woodward and 13 Mile Road.
2. Plan ahead for prime viewing/parking spots. The curb space along the prime cruising route – roughly from the 9 Mile Road cross street in Ferndale, Mich. to Big Beaver Road (16 Mile), north of the suburb of Birmingham, is rented out or reserved for private parties. If you want a prime spot, you’ll have to call ahead and reserve a space.
3. Plan your escape route. The Dream Cruise ends with the police shutting down Woodward and funneling cars down the major cross streets. If you’re unlucky enough to be caught on the wrong side of Woodward when the shutdown happens, you could be waiting until the next Dream Cruise to get back to your hotel.
4. Don’t forget Pontiac. That is, don’t forget the city of Pontiac, Mich., at the north end of the cruise route. The cruise route thins out a bit north of Birmingham, with many turning around to head back into the thick of things in Birmingham, Royal Oak and Ferndale, but downtown Pontiac is only a few miles farther up the road and is always packed to the gills with local hot rods and muscle cars. There’s a more relaxed atmosphere in Pontiac. Newcomers should definitely make the full loop up there.
5. Book your hotel now. Simply put, they fill up quickly. There are few hotels right on Woodward, so you’ll want to search for rooms in the cities of Troy, Southfield, Royal Oak, Warren and other suburbs.
WALTER P. CHRYSLER MUSEUM
If you’re making the trek to Woodward, it’s worth your time to make a side trip up I-75 to the city of Auburn Hills and the Walter P. Chrysler Museum. It’s located on the outskirts of the DaimlerChrysler headquarters and is a treasure trove of rare and vintage Mopar vehicles and memorabilia.
The multilevel museum offers different special displays, so there’s always something new and interesting to see. There’s an admission charge, but it’s inexpensive – the real threat to your wallet is the well-stocked gift shop. It’s impossible to leave without a few collectibles.
For hours and location information, go to www.chryslerheritage.com.