Last weekend, thousands of miles apart, there were two wonderful celebrations of the automobile. They were about as different as any two events could be.
One event celebrated fewer than 200 cars, all classics from another era, mainly prewar. The other had some 20,000 participants with well over a million spectators watching and enjoying the festivities.
We're talking about the Pebble Beach Concours d'Elegance and the Woodward Dream Cruise -- two totally different events, but each has great history and reverence for the automobile. It's a shame that, except for leap years, they fall on the same weekend.
Each one has a half-century of history. Cruising Woodward Avenue in suburban Detroit is something people started doing 50 years ago. For the past decade, it has been limited to a single day when people drive mostly postwar domestic cars, although it seems to have stretched into a couple of weeks of cruising.
Pebble Beach, the granddaddy of all Concours events, began in 1950. It is a celebration of classic automobiles, and there is always a dazzling display of vehicles from all over the globe. It is situated on the 18th green of the famed Pebble Beach golf course in California, perhaps the most spectacular setting for a display of classic and historic automobiles.
The Woodward Dream Cruise is the opposite of Pebble Beach. It is the most egalitarian display of automobiles in the world. About 20,000 cars cruise a 17-mile section of Woodward Avenue while well over a million spectators watch from the sidelines. Just about every type of vehicle is driven on Woodward by a passionate owner. After a decade, the event is a real celebration by car fans who come from all over the country.
Both events celebrate the automobile. And both are at the top of their league, each in its own way.
If there were ever any doubt about the love affair with the automobile in America, all you have to do is visit either event to realize quickly that the passion for cars and trucks continues.
The landscape for the automobile is constantly changing. Many of the marques that Pebble Beach celebrates died a long time ago.
But the love affair continues, and America will have a passion for cars well into the future, whether they're powered by gasoline or electricity.