Woodward Dream Cruise 2013 (© Marc Urbano)Click to enlarge picture

Started in 1995 as a fundraiser for a local soccer field, the Woodward Dream Cruise has grown into an annual multi-day automotive extravaganza.

What brings an estimated one million people and more than 40,000 cars to Detroit? The Woodward Dream Cruise: six lanes of urban boulevard, packed for almost the entire 16-mile cruise with everything from classic antiques to modern muscle cars and everything in between.

Once a street-racing haven and always a cruising scene, Woodward Avenue runs straight through the Detroit suburbs and into the heart of American car culture.

View Pictures:  Customs and Hot Rods at Woodward

View Pictures:  Imports at Woodward

Started in 1995 as a fundraiser for a local soccer field, the Dream Cruise has built on what’s been driving up and down Woodward for decades, mainly muscle cars. Fans of the American V8 are the mainstay of Woodward, and the thunder of eight big pots and a lumpy cam is the real soundtrack of the show.

View Pictures:  Classics at Woodward

View Pictures:  Muscle Cars at Woodward

There’s no charge and the cruise officially runs the third Saturday in August from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. In reality there is so much action that Woodward actually runs for several days heading into Saturday. With the crowds out for the weekend’s main event, some veteran Woodward watchers have taken a preference to Friday night — the scene is just as intense. The more adventurous can mix right in, there isn’t a barricade in sight and Woodward Avenue remains open to all traffic.

These days at Woodward every angle of the automotive hobby is represented. Cruisers, racers, lowriders, military vehicles, street rods, antiques, Class 8 tractors — they’re all there. But mainly it’s red, white and blue, 4-speeds and twice pipes.

View Pictures:  Trucks at Woodward

View Pictures:  Cruising at Woodward

With this much horsepower running loose, a bit of right-foot expression is bound to break out. In years past more enterprising spectators would sling buckets of water, the better to facilitate massive, smoky burnouts. Today an all-hands police presence, along with a volunteer radio net, keeps tire squeals to a gentle roar.

No one can begin to see all of the Dream Cruise because of its multi-mile scale. That didn’t stop us from trying once again, so hang an elbow out the window and cruise through the galleries, while a zephyr of warm night air and rockin’ radio tunes carries you down the boulevard.

Longtime Road & Track contributor Tom Wilson’s credits include local racing championships, three technical engine books and hundreds of freelance articles.