KEITH CRAIN

It was a weekend of celebration

COMMENTARY
Keith Crain is editor-in-chief of Automotive News.
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This past weekend, there were two events separated by 2,500 miles that in many ways describe the love affair with the automobile.

Both have been single-day events for decades, but with all the activities surrounding them, the festivities have stretched out to about a week.

Saturday was the famous Woodward Dream Cruise. Although it takes place in the northern suburbs of Detroit on fabled Woodward Avenue, it is forever linked with the city.

Certainly it is the largest gathering of cars and spectators in the world for any sort of car event. There are normally about 40,000 vehicles cruising up and down 16 miles of Woodward. Just about every possible street-legal vehicle seems to show up on the big day. Although you don't see many prewar classics, just about everything else will cruise by you at some point.

The people and the cars come from all over the country, and crowds of a million or so people line the street four and five deep for those 16 miles. It is mind-boggling the enthusiasm that folks demonstrate.

And on Sunday there was the granddaddy of car shows, the Pebble Beach Concours d'Elegance in California.

A few hundred of the most beautiful and classic automobiles from another era are presented on the oceanside 18th fairway of the famous Pebble Beach Golf Links. It is one of the greatest settings in the world.

What was once a single day-event has become a weeklong gathering of press conferences, classic auto races and several multimillion-dollar auctions.

While it would be almost impossible to charge the million fans who flock to Woodward, Pebble Beach is able to charge, in the name of charity, an admission of $275 or more for the 10 or 15 thousand people who attend the show.

The two events are about as different as can be, but both demonstrate the love and passion folks have for automobiles of all shapes and sizes. Both are must-do experiences.

The only problem is that the two events are held on the same weekend, making it impossible to enjoy both. Only every seven years are they scheduled on different weekends.

I have no idea what cars will be cruising in a decade or more, and I don't know which of today's autos will become classics.

All I know is that the two events celebrate this important industry. If you think the thrill and love affair are gone, show up at either event. Your faith will be restored instantly.

You can reach Keith Crain at kcrain@crain.com.


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