There are eight AMSOIL/Street Rodder Road Tours each summer. By definition a Road Tour starts at an automotive event and continues during the week, as we travel and visit auto related shops, museums, and historic sites. The week wraps up in a different city as we attend another car event. In 2012 we tried something different. We decided that it might work to stay in one city for the entire week and visit automotive related sites that were all within a day trip of the host city. As we discussed the concept there was one city whose name kept popping up in our discussions of possible candidate cities and whose name is literally synonymous with the American automobile. Detroit was the city and Autopalooza.org was the website that would be the sponsor of the tour in the Motor City.
Autopalooza.org is, as their site explains, "A celebration of Southwest Michigan's Automotive Heritage through a series of cruises, races and shows that take place over the course of a year" The site is funded and maintained by a number of groups in the area that have the common goal of getting the word out about all of these automotive activities and the details surrounding them. The perfect week for our eight day visit to the Motor City is the week in August that leads up to the iconic events that brings 1 million people to Detroit and the surrounding area: The Woodward Dream Cruise, Back to the Bricks in Flint and the many other activities that take place during that special week.
The Autopalooza.org Week on Woodward Road Tour was a huge success in 2012 and when we announced our 2014 schedule that included a return trip to Detroit and the Dream Cruise the registrations came pouring in. Our plans for visits included some of the favorites from 2012 and some different stops that focused on General Motors related attractions. Our plan was again to spend the first half of the week in Dearborn and the second half of the week near ground zero of the Dream Cruise in Royal Oak.
The first drivers meeting of any AMSOIL/Street Rodder Road Tour is always a long one as we hand out the credentials, goodie bags and commemorative hats and license plates. The most important item that gets distributed is the itinerary. For 2014 the Autopalooza.org itinerary turned out to be the largest in the history of any of the Road Tours over the last decade. We put together plans and visits that would keep the 100 registered participants extremely busy the entire week. The logistic of getting over 50 vehicles in and out of our scheduled stops would be a monumental task in itself. Our Saturday morning meeting covered some of the way we planned to get that accomplished.
After the Saturday morning meeting most of the participants made the short trip around the corner to what is now known as The Henry Ford, which includes the Henry ford Museum and Greenfield Village. For many of us who had visited this amazing facility previously, a return visit meant a chance to explore even further. For those who were seeing The Henry Ford for the first time the excitement was evident on everyone's face as they walked through the museum and the village. Henry Ford was a visionary who we all owe a debt of gratitude for having for foresight to preserve so many of the important pieces of our nation's history. A day just scratches the surface of The Henry Ford.
As if the Saturday visit wasn't enough we headed out on Sunday morning on the two hour drive west to Hickory Corners, Michigan the site of the manicured campus of the Gilmore Car Museum. The 90 acres site is home to an amazing collection of cars, trucks and motorcycles of every description. Over 300 vehicles fill the many buildings and the displays are tremendous. We spent a wonderful sunny morning and early afternoon at the Gilmore Car Museum. The previous day the museum had officially opened the just completed Lincoln Motor Car Heritage Museum which is stunning as it tells the story of that iconic and stylish marquee. The American Hot Rod exhibit was still on display and work is being completed on the Cadillac and LaSalle Building. The Gilmore Car Museum is one of those places that words cannot describe. You have to go and see it for yourself.
We wrapped up our Sunday at the famous Baker's Cruise in Milford, Michigan. Chris Baker greeted us as we drove in as he does with each and every participant every Sunday in the summer. This is one of the longest running cruises in the nation and has almost 500 cars attend each and every weekend. The local folks enjoyed seeing our vehicles as much as we enjoyed seeing theirs. Road Tourian Don Oskey even went home with a Best of Show award for his 1961 Ford Sunliner convertible. It was a perfect wrap up for our first weekend on the Autopalooza.org AMSOIL/Street Rodder Road Tour. Saturday and Sunday were just a warmup though. We have a full week of fun ahead. Stay tuned, we are just getting started.