While the multi-millionaires are sipping champagne this weekend at Pebble Beach, a more democratic celebration of the automobile is taking place along a 16-mile stretch of Woodward Avenue in suburban Detroit.
This populist celebration draws an estimated 1 million visitors and more than 40,000 cars – street rods, muscle cars, collector cars and other wacky “one of a kind cars” that comprise the biggest celebration of automobility that I know of.
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Chamber of Commerce types estimate it’s worth $50 million to a local economy that was built on the automobile, which misses the point entirely.
What makes the third Saturday in August special is the do-it-yourself nature of the Dream Cruise.
It started decades ago when a bunch of teenage guys in their borrowed family cars went cruising on Woodward for a burger and a root beer, and — with luck — the car in the next lane over was filled with a bunch teenage girls, also in borrowed wheels. With even more luck the cars ended up parked next to each other a the Totem Pole or other such joint or drive in.
To greatly oversimplify a social phenomenon, from such a uniquely American courting ritual today’s Dream Cruise is made.