DERTOIT -- Ford, Chevy and Dodge will turn to the Woodward Dream Cruise, a classic-car celebration in suburban Detroit, on Saturday to generate some marketing buzz on their offerings.
Ford signed on in June on as the event's one-year presenting sponsor, replacing Chevrolet's previous six-year sponsorship. The extravaganza is expected to draw around 1.5 million people.
While Ford will host its mainstay event, Mustang Alley, a pony car display, it will also introduce a new driving-skills exhibit. The Driving Skills for Life program will teach drivers safety techniques through a virtual reality app, made to simulate the experience of driving a Ford vehicle.
"This year we are expanding Mustang Alley west for the first time to create a larger footprint than years past," a spokesman for Ford said. "We're also adding the Driving Skills exhibit as a free event to draw in more people."
Dodge, on the other hand, wants racing enthusiasts to take a shot at smoky burnouts during Roadkill Nights "Powered by Dodge." The thousands of people expected at Roadkill Nights can also take a thrill ride with a professional driver in a Dodge Challenger SRT Hellcat, Charger SRT Hellcat or Viper.
Chevrolet will occupy its traditional spot at the "triangle" -- where Woodward and Old Woodward meet north of Detroit in Birmingham -- to show off its pickups and the Camaro and Corvette.
Although the event entertains thousands with food, music and speedsters, Ford also sees it as an opportunity to extend its marketing reach.
"Dream Cruise is all about the sheer joy and freedom of the automobile, and Ford has always celebrated car culture," Ford marketing chief Mark LaNeve said in a statement. "From Fiesta to GT, we're obsessed with making driving fun and we're committed to celebrating that passion with enthusiasts of all ages in the birthplace of motoring."
Here are additional details about the brands' plans:
- Mustang Alley , in its 19th year at the Dream Cruise, features an array of muscle cars and the 2018 Mustang.
- Vaugn Gittin Jr. will show off his toy collection, including an RTR Mustang and Formula D race car.
- At multiple spots along Woodward, Ford will display its performance catalog, including the 2018 Mustang Shelby GT, Focus RS and F-150 Raptor.
- The Driving Skills for Life exhibit will help new drivers master their vehicles by simulating the experience of driving through virtual reality.
- Ford car clubs that don't have a separate location on Woodward can show their vehicles at the enthusiast meetup at Memorial Park in nearby Pleasant Ridge.
- Dodge's celebration of old-style muscle, Roadkill Nights, started on Aug. 12 on one-quarter mile of Woodward in Pontiac. It will continue through Saturday Aug. 19.
- An M-1 course neighboring the Roadkill Nights track will host a car show, simulators and dyno tests. Last year the event drew around 30,000 spectators.
- A celebrity drag race will take place that evening at 6:30 p.m., featuring Roadkill hosts and celebrities from "House of Muscle" and "Hot Rod Garage."
- Chevy will have Heritage displays of its pickups aand the Camaro and Corvette as well as Redline Edition models and the full Chevy lineup at the confluence of Woodward and Old Woodward in Birmingham.
- The triangle formed by Woodward and Old Woodward will also showcase the new Camaro ZL1 NASCAR Cup Series Race.
- At 13 Mile and Woodward, Chevy will have a Performance and Motorsports display including concepts that feature performance parts and accessories. Race cars will also be on display here.
- The Corvettes on Woodward Event -- a main attraction for Corvette owners in past years -- has been canceled this year, with hopes of resuming in 2018.