Aug 8 – Detroit – Car fanatics rejoiced this weekend with the return of an automotive event to Motor City after more than two years without one.
Motor City Car Crawl, organized by the Detroit Auto Dealers Association and the Downtown Detroit Partnership, filled six downtown parks with about 50 cars, food trucks and entertainment. Highlight of the weekend: the elegant charity gala hosted by Grammy Award winner Sheryl Crow at Campus Martius on Saturday.
The outdoor car crawl and charity gala took place the same week that New York Auto Show officials, over COVID concerns, canceled their indoor event just two weeks ahead of its scheduled dates.
But DADA officials are also planning to hold their Motor Bella outdoor event in September at the M1 Concourse in Pontiac.
The crawl and Motor Bella are taking place this year at the venue of a North American International Auto Show in Detroit, which, along with its charity preview that raised thousands of children’s charities in Detroit, has not been held since January 2019. The 2021 Detroit auto shows have been canceled due to the pandemic.
Authorities plan to bring the auto show back in 2022. Decisions about another car crawl and Motor Bella are under discussion.
Tamara Flake, vice chairman of Huntington Bank, said she was happy that Huntington was able to be the main sponsor of the event.
“It’s exciting to be in the community as a presenting sponsor and come together again,” she said. “I didn’t think it was going to be this big, but I’m excited to see so many people.”
Rochelle Darlene of Detroit and Erika Taliaferro of Flat Rock said they used to attend the typical black tie event held by the Detroit auto show every year.
“We’re so happy to come out of the house and be around people,” Darlene said. “We really love that they did this in the summer rather than the winter so we could all be outside and dressed.”
At the Martius Campus, racing vehicles, including Formula 1 racing cars from the Detroit Grand Prix and Michigan International Speedway, were on display.
Eric Larson, chief executive of the Downtown Detroit Partnership, expects the Motor City Car Crawl will likely draw the largest downtown crowds since before COVID. Among the most significant events before that was the Belle Isle Grand Prix over Memorial Day weekend.
“Over the course of the four days it will go beyond that and have a huge positive impact,” Larson said in a previous interview with The News.
And part of that positive impact will be on local businesses and restaurants, as Campus Martius was beautifully decorated with a variety of food trucks.
The highlight of the gala, nine-time Grammy Award-winning Crow, captivated audiences with her performance.
“I’m more of a muscle car girl myself,” Crow said between songs. “I have a 1965 Mustang convertible and a 1951 Chevrolet.”
The paid event was the only part of the Motor City Car Crawl that costs to attend.
Tickets cost $ 250 and proceeds will go to nine Detroit children’s charities including: Boys & Girls Clubs of Southeast Michigan, Boys Hope Girls Hope Detroit, Children’s Center, The Children’s Foundation, Detroit PAL, Judson Center, March of Dimes Metro Detroit, University of Michigan CS Mott Children’s Hospital and the Detroit Auto Dealers Association Charitable Foundation Fund.
While ticket sales are still counting, over 1,700 people were in attendance on Saturday evening, and DADA is hopeful that it can turn the event into an annual saga.
“After two and a half years without this gala… it’s raising millions of dollars for the kids in need,” said Sandy Pierce, senior executive vice president of Huntington.
Editors Kalea Hall and Maureen Feighan contributed.