How did you make your fun when you were a teenager? Did you smoke dope behind the high school gym? Did you play nintendo in your parents' basement? Did you shoot up in an abandoned warehouse? Did you play AD&D for weekends at a time? Did you sneak your parents' likker and spend a lot of late nights and early mornings worshipping the porcelain god?
Or did you cruise?
What's cruising? you ask. Ever seen American Graffiti? Then you already know. Haven't seen it? It's teen-agers, mostly high schoolers, scrounging up any car they can find and driving down the main drag for hours on a Friday or Saturday night. Usually cruisin' is only popular when gas is cheap and there's nothin' better to do, which means small towns with limited facilities.
Here in the northern counties of Detroit's tricounty area, the main drags are Woodward for Oakland County and Gratiot (pronounced Grash-it) for Macomb County. Both saw a lot of cruising back in the days of cheap gas. Nowadays the kids have better things to do and not nearly as much money for gas, so cruising has almost died out -- except for those nostalgic for a simpler, cooler time.
There's still a lot of cruising, believe me; however, the age of the average cruiser is now 50-something instead of something-teen. The average cruiser can now afford to buy a 60's or 70's muscle car already tricked out or has spent the last 40 years restoring the cars of his or her youth.
In the earlier part of the summer, classic cars mostly cruise down Gratiot on Fridays and Saturdays -- seems like each city and township has staked out its own weekend for a car show, parade, and cruise. But when August comes around, all eyes turn to Woodward.
The Woodward Dream Cruise is the largest single-day car event in the world. Over 1.5 million people and 40,000 classic and/or souped up cars converge on Woodward for a day of fun in the sun sucking down car fumes.
It's not like the big auto shows where pristine cars rotate slowly on turntables with models draped over them. The WDC is a mobile, largely Joe Blow-type show. Starting at 8 Mile on the border with Detroit, classic and not-so-classic cars cruise from Ferndale all the way to downtown Pontiac where Woodward curves back on itself, a 32-mile round trip. Unlike Gratiot, the Woodward communities started together and have stayed together, helping to create more buzz and attract larger crowds each year. Lots of money is made for both charities and local businesses who can handle the crush.
Did I say "single-day"? Well, sort of. The Woodward Dream Cruise events "officially" start on Friday night at 6:00 p.m. in Berkley with the Berkley CruiseFest. Berkley has the best parade in the area. It travels down 12 Mile Road from Woodward to Greenfield Road, only 1 1/2 miles, but it's 1 1/2 miles of the hottest cars in Southeast Michigan, which is not sayin' nothin'!
The Cruise itself only lasts from 9:00 a.m. Saturday to 9:00 p.m. Saturday. But try telling that to all those people sitting in their folding chairs at the side of the road down by 13 Mile and Woodward four days before Saturday's zero hour.
Try telling that to all those people who've already driven their classic cars to Northwood Shopping Center at 13 Mile and Woodward, parked, raised the hood to show off beefy engines, and sat around talking cars, cars, cars for 6 hours tonight. And it's only Tuesday!
P.S. I was going to do an album and upload all my pix to it but it's not working. Oh, and all the pix are just my 1mp camera phone so they started off not very good.
Oh, and I didn't make it this year myself. Couldn't drag myself out of bed, the weather was iffy, and I had to go to work.