Car lovers to celebrate homecoming in Pontiac this Woodward Dream Cruise

By: Tiffany Esshaki | Birmingham - Bloomfield Eagle | Published August 7, 2017

 Downtown Pontiac is a “rebounding” city and a perfect destination for Dream Cruise enthusiasts, organizers say.

Downtown Pontiac is a “rebounding” city and a perfect destination for Dream Cruise enthusiasts, organizers say.

Photo provided by Pontiac Power Week

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PONTIAC — For years, the city of Pontiac has celebrated the annual Woodward Dream Cruise right alongside the other spots along the busy corridor. 

But Pontiac has just never gotten the same amount of attention as, say, Royal Oak or Birmingham. Which is strange, if you think about it: Why is the city that shares its name with a car brand not in the spotlight during the nation’s biggest classic car event?

Jonathan Witz has some theories as to why that is. 

He’s one of the masterminds behind the Arts, Beats and Eats festival in downtown Royal Oak. But just before that major event every year, he’s got his hands full with Pontiac Power Week — eight days of classic cars and live entertainment for the whole family in the heart of downtown Pontiac.

“I’d say for the past several years Pontiac has had its share of challenges,” said Witz. “It’s no secret. But during the Dream Cruise the downtown will be a bright spot. It will shine.”

Though the city has hosted events for at least the past 20 years, Witz said, Pontiac has for the last two years aimed to draw extra attention to its end of Woodward during the popular car event.

Everything kicks off Saturday, Aug. 12, when M1 Concourse in Pontiac will host Roadkill Nights, powered by Dodge. The massive track, and the stretch of Woodward just outside, will be closed off for legal drag racing. 

Yes, you read that right. You can re-enact your own 1950s greaser fantasy right on Woodward. 

The racing will start at 11 a.m. and continue through 9:30 p.m., and guests can also enjoy live music, vendor exhibits, a Show n’ Shine area, BMX stunt shows, a kids activity zone, food trucks, giveaways and plenty more. Not to mention thrill rides in Dodge vehicles.

Woodward will be returned to commuters during the weekdays until Friday morning, when the Soaring Eagle Stage warms up beginning at 10 a.m. with a day full of live music acts. Charles E. Anthony, Full Tilt Boogie, Indecision Rock, Roadside Rick & Detroit Breakdown, and T$ Green Roadwork are all slated to perform.

The music continues right into the following day, when the Woodward Dream Cruise officially opens up to gearheads near and far. Live music will start at 10 a.m. and continue for 12 hours while families enjoy a huge kids craft and activity tent provided by St. Joseph Mercy Oakland, tons of food trucks and caterers, and, of course, cars as far as the eye can see.

“Last year Saginaw Street was closed down. This year it will be open, and you can drive right through and see cars on your left and right,” Witz said of the Pontiac City Square Car Show. “And it’s going to be a huge show. Every parking spot will be filled. Instead of the old drive-in movie, come out to the drive-in car show.”

He added that since Pontiac has become a hot spot for investment in the past couple of years — with new businesses like Slows Bar-B-Q and other destination-worthy spots opening downtown — the mayor of the city is hoping Pontiac will become what it was always meant to be: a major hub of Woodward Dream Cruise action.

“Pontiac has a rich history celebrating car culture when it comes time for Woodward cruising,” Pontiac Mayor Deidre Waterman said in a prepared statement. “Not only am I pleased to announce that Pontiac will be continuing festivities at a new level, we’ll also be adding a special one-day music festival for citizens of Pontiac as well.”

That’s taking place later, on Sept. 23, as The Spinners take the stage at Wisner Stadium for a showcase performance free to Pontiac residents. It’s not part of Pontiac Power Week, but it’s all an effort to bring a thriving entertainment scene back to the community.

“Trust me, people want to be a part of the resurgence of this great city,” Witz said.

For more information on the second annual Pontiac Power Week, visit www.PontiacPowerWeek.com.

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