Cruise into these Auto Attractions and Car Shows in Michigan
Ever since Henry Ford conjured up the Model T, Detroit—and all of Michigan—has been synonymous with the automobile. Whether your interest is in pouring over classic cars on display or catching the thrill of race cars flying around a Michigan racetrack at speeds above 200 mph, these automotive displays celebrate the American car.
Car Shows and Cruises
Perhaps Detroit's most esteemed event, NAIAS is the destination where next-generation automotive products and technologies continue to make their world debuts. Detroit, rightfully dubbed the Motor City, remains in the driver seat as this prestigious show's host year after year. NAIAS is unmatched in the industry in presenting six unique shows in one, including: The Gallery, an ultra-luxury automotive event, AutoMobili-D, an inside look at future mobility platforms, Press Review, Industry Preview, Charity Preview, all concluding with a nine-day Public Show. From muscle and electric cars, to high-performance supercars and full-size trucks, NAIAS has something for everyone to enjoy.
Flint celebrates its role as the birthplace of America’s first sports car (the Corvette) at the Back to the Bricks cruise and car show. Some 500,000 car buffs attend the annual summertime event that features a rolling cruises, car shows, live music, dance parties and lots of fun.
Billed as the largest one-day automotive event on earth, the annual Woodward Dream Cruise draws 1.5 million spectators to Detroit to celebrate the American automobile. More than 40,000 hot rods, classic and custom cars cruise Woodward Avenue between Ferndale and Pontiac, forming the centerpiece of a week’s worth of automotive-themed events.
The nation’s rarest and most spectacularly-restored automobiles are on display at Plymouth’s Inn at St. John’s each year. Look for historic steam-powered vehicles and sleek European sports cars; for jazz-era sedans and futuristic-looking Wedge Era cars of the 1970s.
The result of a collecting habit gone wild, The Henry Ford ranks as the quintessential automobile museum and traces its roots to the automotive titan’s intense interest in American memorabilia. Not surprisingly, the centerpiece of The Henry Ford’s Museum of American Innovation is a line-up of historic automobiles called Driving America featuring the 1865 Roper, the first American-made car; Henry Ford’s first gasoline-powered vehicle; mid-century muscle cars. Other historic vehicles include the Montgomery, Alabama, city bus made famous by Rosa Parks’ refusal to give up her seat; and presidential vehicles used by Kennedy, Reagan and others. Related automotive exhibits focus on the impact that the automobile had on American culture, including automotive club maps, drive-in movie theatres and fast food restaurants.
In The Henry Ford’s Greenfield Village visitors can ride in a restored Model T and see the Bagley Avenue Workshop where Ford built his first car. Interested in modern vehicle manufacturing? Don’t leave before touring the Ford Rouge Factory Tour, a working assembly line where America’s iconic Ford F-150 pickup trucks are built. Bus transport to the factory departs from the Henry Ford Museum of American Innovation.
You might say the Motor City was born in this modest 3-story building north of downtown Detroit. Henry Ford perfected his Model T at the Piquette Avenue plant, building some 12,000 of the automobiles in pre-assembly line work stations. Visitors can walk through the old building, see a selection of restored Model T’s and check out the office where Henry Ford worked day in and day out.
Set on a 90-acre wooded campus northeast of Kalamazoo, the Gilmore Car Museum ranks as one of the top five automobile museums in the U.S. A dozen museum buildings house some 300 beautifully-restored and rare vehicles, including Model A’s and Pierce-Arrows, Duesenbergs and Studebakers, antique trucks and muscle cars. There are even displays of vintage motorcycles, tin toy cars and elaborate hood ornaments.
Michigan is home to half a dozen racing facilities. But the Michigan International Speedway has been the granddaddy of auto racing venues since its opening in 1968. Located in southeast Michigan’s rolling Irish Hills, MIS hosts races each summer. The two-mile oval’s claim to fame is as NASCAR’s fastest track. More than 8,000 reserved campsites are available on the track’s 1,400-acre grounds.
Each summer the quiet parkland of Detroit’s Belle Isle Park roars with the sounds of race car engines at the wildly popular weekend-long Detroit Grand Prix. The park's gently-winding, paved streets convert into a 2.3-mile track that skirts past the James Scott Memorial Fountain and along the island’s Detroit Riverbanks.
Drivers learn how to race competitively at Waterford Hills. Then they put what they’ve learned into action at a weekend’s worth of race events. The challenging 1.5-mile course offers enough complicated twists, turns and elevation changes to get your blood pumping…and to provide exciting race-day action.