Gearheads, auto-fanatics, car nuts: Welcome home.
Super late models, sportsmen, street stocks, pure stocks, figure-8 races and hornets divisions shows bring out over 20,000 fans (who know what all those things mean) to Auto City Speedway annually.
Jay Woolworth, a Michigan Motorsports Hall of Fame inductee, loves driving his '81 Camaro at Auto City, and it shows: He's won 20 feature street stock events there over the past eight years. "It's a great track, I've been driving there since it opened," Woolworth said. "I just like the way it's configured for racing.
I've always had really good luck there, because there's good room to pass and race." You won't need to count on good luck, though: Whether coming to see examples of vintage auto beauty, top-notch racing skills or plain old destruction, speed freaks will love this top-speed tarmac. www.autocityspeedway.com
BEST OF BUICK
G.M. creates the Truck and Bus Group (the Flint Assembly).
The Buick Automotive Gallery at the Sloan*Longway Museum is home to some of the world's most unique vintage vehicles, from Buick-made WWII tanks to unusual concept cars and local Chevrolets. Museum curator Jeremy Dimick shares his favorites. www.sloanlongway.org
1 1956 Buick Centurion
"This was the only model ever produced. The museum has five concept cars in its collection, but this is my favorite. The Centurion's 'wings,' tail cone and canopy top reflect the influence that aircraft design had on many of G.M.'s designers."
2 1953 Chevrolet Corvette
"Designed by legendary G.M. designer Harley Earl, this is one of 300 hand-built 'polo white' Corvettes. The 1953 models were built in Flint before production moved to St. Louis."
3 1913 Chevrolet Classic Six Model C
"Famed Buick race car driver Louis Chevrolet was hired to design a low-price car to compete with Ford's Model T. Instead, he designed the luxurious Classic Six. Originally built in Flint, this car is the oldest running Chevy in the world and the second oldest known to exist."
4 1942 Buick Roadmaster Sedan
"This is an example of car design matching what was popular in pop culture. Trains held American's attention, so the front end of this Roadmaster looks strikingly similar to the 'Streamline modern' styling found on locomotives from the 1930s."
5 1955 Chevrolet Bel-Air
"If you closed your eyes and thought of a car made in the 1950s, you could very well be picturing a Bel-Air. The chrome, two-tone paint and tail fins are all hallmarks of the models' second generation ('55-'57)."
6 1944 M-18 Hell Cat Tank Destroyer
"When the auto industry retooled to assist with war production during World War II, Buick began manufacturing tanks. The M-18 entered the European theater in 1944 and was faster than any other tank on the field, reaching speeds of up to 60mph."
7 1910 Buick 60 Special "Bug"
"This is one of two race cars built by the Buick racing team, and features a for the time radical nose cone over the front end. The cone was made more for looks than aerodynamics, but the car could reach a formidable 110mph on straight tracks."
SLOAN MUSEUM AUTO FAIR
June 23- 24
This 40th annual Auto Fair fills the Flint Cultural Center campus with 700 cars, trucks and tractors (plus music and food). Car fanatics show off their wheels, bringing out rare rides, ranging from a 1920 Stutz replica to sparkling new modified Chevy Camaros. This summer's fair will feature the exceptional 1974 Fascination — a Jetsons-like, three-wheeled concept car of which only five were ever built. www.sloanautofair.com
BACK TO THE BRICKS
TUNE-UP PARTY WEEK, Aug. 7-11 (in communities around Flint), CRUISE WEEK, Aug. 14-18 (in Flint)
What started as an experimental one-day car cruise in 2005 has grown into a two-week series of events, making it the fastest growing car show in the US. Last year's Back to the Bricks drew a record 420,000 fans from around the world, plus 35,000 rides. "Real car people understand that Flint really is the birthplace of the auto industry, and they want to come and celebrate the heritage we all love," said Al Hatch, the event's chairman. Events include two nights of rolling cruises — non-formal drives through town — and 45 pit-stop parties along a 12-mile route through the heart of the city. Downtown closes off entirely Friday through Saturday, letting proud gearheads park their gems while fans fawn. Car clubs set up camp, with 800 Corvettes expected for this year's event. There's also music, with The Spinners bringing a taste of neighboring Motown. www.backtothebricks.org
BRICKS FLICKS, Aug. 14
One of only three remaining drive-in theaters in Michigan gets in on the Bricks action by playing host to 1,300 cars for free, auto-themed features. This year's "Bricks Flick" will be the 2011 remake of Footloose. www.us23driveintheater.com
INVENTING THE WHEEL
1855 — The town of Flint is incorporated. 1890 — Before the inception of the automobile, Flint is known as the carriage industry capital of the world. 1902 — Flint Automobile Company, founded by A.B.C. Hardy, manufactures Flint's first car, the Flint Roadster. 1903 — Buick moves to Flint, incorporates itself as "Buick Motor Company" and builds first production plant. 1904 — Model B, made in Flint, is the first Buick car for sale. 1908-1910 — General Motors is founded, and Buick is part of the new conglomerate. 1908 — The Buick racing team, led by driver Louis Chevrolet, wins 500 races around the country. 1913 — The Chevy plant opens on the eponymous Chevrolet Avenue. 1936 — The Buick Roadmaster is built, and its design — by Harley Earl, one of the most innovative auto designers in history — is still acclaimed as one of the best ever. World War II — Flint's auto plants retool to produce tanks and machinery for the US wareffort. 1953 — The Chevy Plant Building 35 builds the first Corvette prototype. 1981 — G.M. creates the Truck and Bus Group (the Flint Assembly). 1985 — The Buick City complex is built in Northwest Flint — Buick's answer to Toyota City. 2003 — Buick turns 100. 2004 — The first "Back to the Bricks" cruise is held as a one-day event.