Thousands of classic car fans get revved up for annual Back to the Bricks automotive showcase

Thousands of classic car fans get revved up for annual Back to the Bricks automotive showcase

One person’s love of classic cars evolved into an event that has become one of the biggest traditions in the city.

Flint’s annual Back to the Bricks cruise and vehicle expo rolls through the city Aug. 14-18. Extending from the red bricks of downtown Saginaw Street into Grand Blanc, the route attracts onlookers of all ages and backgrounds throughout the days and evenings. The weekend’s special highlights will include a car show, concert and Motown-themed dance party.

Al Hatch, who first envisioned the Vehicle City event, says he’s excited to see it get underway in 2018.

“Obviously, Detroit has the Woodward Dream Cruise, and it really started because of that,” Hatch says.

He was inspired by the display through metro Detroit’s Woodward Avenue, but also by his own experiences. As a teenager, Hatch remembers how he used to “run up and down Saginaw Street” in his car, including drive-through spots like the former A&W restaurant. The nostalgia of a time when cars and driving were an extension of socializing and fun helped inspire his drive to create Back to the Bricks.

“It’s a great way to pay homage to Flint’s automotive history, which is second to none in the nation,” he says.

Hatch first conceived the idea for the cruise in 2004, but he was met with skepticism about its prospects for success.

“Downtown Flint was pretty boarded up at the time, but that’s all changed,” he says.

Efforts to revive the district, combined with the die-hard support of proud citizens, helped make believers out of those who had doubt.

“If it wasn’t for the community we wouldn’t have an event,” says Hatch.

An estimated half-million observers and visitors annually take part in Back to the Bricks events, which showcase about 40,000 cars. Visitors travel from throughout the state, country and abroad. “Tune-up parties” held throughout Genesee County have become part of the excitement leading up to the motorcade of vehicles that marks the summer event. Family programs and activities, music, and food also add to the festivities.

Corvette owners can attend a reunion at Back to the Bricks. A classic auto-lover can even drive away from the event as the owner of one.

A Corvette reunion for owners of the popular sports car is another Back to the Bricks attraction. This year, a classic auto-lover can even drive away from the event as the owner of one. Elder Credit Union will provide same-day financing for qualified applicants who visit their site at Saginaw and Court Streets.

Since it began, the event has added the annual Chrome and Ice scholarship fundraiser and Back to the Bricks Promo Tour, which featured 300 vehicles this year and toured the state. In 2012 the celebration added a tribute to the city’s pioneering auto manufacturers, unveiling bronze replicas of David Buick, Louis Chevrolet and others.

Hatch is proud of the celebration that started as a one-day event and now welcomes thousands to various venues that host festivities, free of admission.

“It’s just expanded beyond anybody’s wildest dreams,” he says.

Hatch credits dedicated sponsors and a hardworking committee for the growth of the volunteer-driven event.

“Again, the community has reached out and embraced it,” he says. “When you see all the smiles and hear all the comments about how good this is for Genesee County, that’s our pay.”

Live entertainment and other programs will include country artist Dave Ligness and the Motortown All-Stars, along with screenings of the film Tucker: A Man and His Dream, as part of “Bricks Flicks” at US-23 Digital Drive-In Theater in Mundy Township.

A complete schedule of events and attractions is available at the website Hatch says there’s plenty to enjoy.

“We just invite everybody out,” Hatch says. “Come on down and reminisce about the good times.”




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