Just a few years ago, critics said Fiat Chrysler's Dodge brand was spinning its wheels as it struggled to find an identity amid a lineup that stretched from muscle cars to minivans.
Now those spinning wheels -- and the thick smoke they generate -- are drawing tens of thousands of visitors as Dodge embraces its muscle-car heritage with successful experiential marketing events such as Roadkill Nights.
Next month, Dodge will host its second Roadkill Nights in suburban Detroit -- and third overall -- as part of the annual Woodward Dream Cruise. The free, daylong Dodge festival at the new M1 Concourse in Pontiac, Mich., Aug. 19 will feature thrill rides in Vipers and Hellcat-powered muscle cars, amateur drag racing, live music, food, fireworks and giveaways.
An inaugural event last year held in the parking lot of the Silverdome, a dilapidated former sports arena in Pontiac, drew an estimated 10,000 people. A similar event June 18 in Kansas City attracted an estimated 12,000 people.
Both were shepherded by Dodge brand head Tim Kuniskis, a man who revels in the muscle-car culture and sees it as the key to keeping Dodge relevant in an era when car sales are down dramatically.