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Classic Detroit iron ready to roll in 19th annual Woodward Dream Cruise

Classic Detroit Iron is ready to roll this weekend on Woodward Avenue in suburban Detroit.
Classic Detroit Iron is ready to roll this weekend on Woodward Avenue in suburban Detroit.
Photo by: Mike Karagozian

Saturday - August 16 - will mark the 19h annual Woodward Dream Cruise in Royal Oak, Michigan, a suburb of Detroit.

Each year approximately one million people line Woodward Avenue to gape at thousands of restored 50's and 60's muscle cars, hot rods, customs, sports cars and other vintage cars.

The Woodward Dream Cruise has evolved into the largest event of its kind in the world.

Historic Road
Woodward Avenue is historic - symbolic of the center of the domestic auto industry. Woodward Avenue (M-1) was the first mile of concrete pavement in the United States. During the 1950's and 1960's, hot rodders in their muscle cars would cruise Woodward Avenue, which was lined with dozens of drive-in restaurants.

Drive-ins such as Ted's, The Wigwam, Totem Pole, The Egg and I, Suzi-Q and Dipsy Doodle became famous as Detroit landmarks. Sadly, these drive-ins are gone.

Street racing capital - and the roar of lions
Eight lanes wide, smooth as glass and conveniently divided at one mile intervals by stoplights, Woodward Avenue was the street racing capital of the Midwest.

As a youngster I would sit on my grandmother's back porch in Huntington Woods south of Eleven Mile Road on Friday evenings and watch the drag racers. Between the sound of the drag racers, and the occasional roar of lions from the nearby Detroit Zoo (I'm not making this up!) grandma's back porch was a prime viewing spot.

Let's go Woodwarding
"Woodwarding" was what teenagers did in Detroit on Saturday nights during the 1950s and 1960s. Cruising on Woodward died out during the 1970's as Detroit turned away from building performance cars following the Arab oil embargo.

The final nail in the coffin came in 1975 when the Clean Air Act tightened emission standards and - temporarily - put an end to Detroit-manufactured "muscle cars."

Cruising reborn in 1994
Cruising Woodward got a new lease on life one August weekend in 1994 when a group of hot rodders decided to relive Detroit's glory days and go cruising on Woodward. The first attempt was a success. What became known as the Woodward Dream Cruise grew each year as it attracted media attention and a greater number of cruisers.

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