BROOKLYN, Mich. — It could not be more quintessentially Detroit. On the eve of NASCAR‘s race at Michigan International Speedway, 50,000 classic automobiles caravanned down a long avenue of the Motor City that at one point boasted the first mile of paved highway in America. They call it the Woodward Dream Cruise, and what began as an homage to the carefree days of rolling down the boulevard in Detroit steel has evolved into an event that attracts more than one million spectators every year.
It seemed appropriate, then, that race car drivers unofficially kicked it off. Jimmie Johnson and Jeff Gordon began their Michigan weekends on Detroit’s Woodward Avenue, the five-time champion driving a Chevrolet Volt down the parade route, and the four-time champ piloting a 60th anniversary Corvette borrowing a white and silver paint scheme from 1953. Manufacturers are always a presence in NASCAR, where the nose of every vehicle carries the insignia of its carmaker. But nothing quite emphasizes that bond like a trip to Michigan, which is clearly the domestic manufacturers’ home track.
There’s a lot of pride on the line for this race. … And it puts a little bit more extra pressure on us, as well, to go out and perform.