If you are like most enthusiasts about this time of year you are experiencing a bad case of “cabin fever”. Shut in by the cold and the snow and too early to wake your hibernating car from its winter sleep and take it for its initial Spring cruise, you can’t help but think of the warm weather and all of the things you will be doing once your Corvette emerges from beneath its flannel lined custom car cover and once again hits the road. One of the things that can help allay the winter doldrums and kick off the Spring is to begin to plan your summer “bucket list” of “can’t miss” events and one of the events that should be at the top of that list is “Back to the Bricks” and the fourth annual Corvette Reunion for 2013.
If you are a serious car enthusiast, particularly a “Vetter”, then “Back to the Bricks” simply cannot be missed. Often overshadowed because it is held simultaneously with the legendary Woodward Dream Cruise in Detroit, Back to the Bricks is the “event of choice” for “real” car enthusiasts. It ranks among the top twenty auto-related events in the country and takes place in the birthplace of the Corvette, Flint, Michigan. Back to the Bricks is actually a compilation of several events and activities beginning in June and culminating in a world class car show in down town Flint on Saturday, August 17th, that draws over 500,000 enthusiasts and as many as 40,000 cars. This year the event “officially” takes place August 13th through August 17th but in reality the activities begin June 7th through 13th with a week-long “Lakeshore to Lakeshore” promotional tour. That is followed up in early August with “Tune Up Party Week” the 5th through the 10th in preparation for the main event week extravaganza.
On Tuesday, August 13th, the Back to the Bricks main event week kicks off with a free drive-in movie, car show and party. Wednesday and Thursday have “rolling cruise” and swap meet events and Friday is loaded with events and activities: a car show, the Corvette “meet and greet” at the Brick Street Bar & Grill, in Grand Blanc, a vendor marketplace, and live music in the park. All of the events, cruises, and parties are just a precursor for the Saturday, August 17th, extravaganza when one of the most exciting and diverse car shows in the country is staged in downtown Flint, better known as “Vehicle City”. The streets are lined with cars and trucks of every type from over 500 Corvettes to muscle cars, rat rods, customs, low-riders and award winning restorations of classics. The show is scheduled to begin at 10 AM but “those in the know” get there early because almost a half million other enthusiasts will pack downtown Flint to take part in the festivities and see hundreds of the interesting cars.
Back to the Bricks spectacular is in many ways the antithesis of the vaunted Woodward Dream Cruise which takes place on the same day, seventy miles south of Flint in the suburbs of the Motor City. But there are really only three similarities between the two events: they are both automobile and enthusiast based events, they both draw huge crowds, and they are both staged in Michigan. But that is where the similarities end. During the Woodward Dream Cruise spectators sit along Woodward Avenue and watch cars of all types and quality slowly pass by, (days of the legendary Woodward stoplight burnouts are a thing of the past. Most of those that attempt a burnout are usually rewarded with a ticket from the local cops). At the Back to the Bricks events you will be able to get “up close and personal” with the cars and their owners and enjoy several supporting events from music to movies.
Where the Woodward Dream Cruise is at best “loosely organized”, in part because the event takes place in more than one city where official support varies greatly by municipality, the Back to the Bricks event is well organized and coordinated by a group of dedicated organizers with the full support of the city of Flint. Everything from food services, handicapped parking and restroom facilities is planned and strategically located to accommodate the onslaught of enthusiasts. Understand, that both events are considered to be among the best automotive events in the country and both should be on every enthusiast’s “bucket list”, but if you can only pick one event to attend the most knowledgeable and serious enthusiasts will likely give the nod to the “Bricks”.
Corvette enthusiasts will be pleased to know that once again the annual Corvette Reunion, is returning this year. It is the fourth and will take place on Friday night, August 16th and Saturday August 17th. The Reunion is actually an “event within an event” and open to all Corvette owners. The Reunion will kick off on Friday with a “meet and greet” that is open to all Corvette owners from around the country. The “meet and greet” party will be held at the “Brick Street Bar & Grill” in Grand Blanc, just fifteen minutes from downtown Flint. Old friends and first timers can enjoy good food and conversation centered around the cars and the event. Corvettes of every generation and every type can be enjoyed from fully restored, award winning classics, to custom and radically modified and even some full race Vettes will be on display. The Reunion event is considered to be a club by the Back to the Bricks organizers and as such all Corvettes can park together to display the cars. This event has grown by almost a hundred cars a year and last year almost 500 Corvettes from all over the country participated. As a result BttB has given almost half of the real estate designated for car clubs to the Corvette Reunion and based on the annual growth 2013 could be in excess of 600 Corvettes. The Reunion is exciting enough to stand on its own and will be covered by CorvetteForum® but when coupled with the rest of the BttB it’s simply “over the top”. If you are a Corvette aficionado it is well worth the trip to be a part of this “experience”.
It is important to note that Back to the Bricks and the Corvette Reunion are considered to be a 501C with all profits from event used to fund the revitalization of the downtown area in recognition of pioneers in the automobile industry and preserving Flint’s rich automotive history. Even though hard hit by the economic downturn Flint has not forgotten its strong automotive heritage and is recognizing legendary figures that have played an important role in Flint’s automotive history. Iconic automotive companies have long been associated with Flint and though many of Flint’s plants have downsized or closed, the city continues to recognize their contributions. The town was home to the first assembly plants of Buick and Chevrolet and at one time the city was home to the largest GM complex in the world. AC Delco, Fisher Body and the UAW also played significant roles in the history of Flint. Bronze statues of Louis Chevrolet and David Buick have already been erected and placed in the Bricks Statue Plaza, part of the renovated downtown area. Appropriately, the statues of these champions of the automobile have been totally funded by profits generated from the Back to the Bricks events and private donations. Plans call for the erection of at least eight statues in the future.
So it’s time to start waking up your hibernating car and get ready to enjoy another great year with your Corvette. I am confident that the Corvette Reunion and the Back to the Bricks event will rank at the top of your 2013 car related activities. Make your plans now!
Rick Tavel writes about automobiles with an emphasis on Corvettes and the hobby in general. You can email him at [email protected]