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Roadkill Nights is the latest Woodward Dream Cruise casualty of COVID-19

Henry Payne
The Detroit News

There will be no drag racing on Woodward this year. At least not legally.

The sixth annual Roadkill Nights has been canceled for Aug. 7-8, the latest victim of the COVID-19 pandemic. Roadkill, which shut down a section of Woodward Avenue in Pontiac for legal drag racing, has been the official kickoff for Woodward Dream Cruise week.

A Dodge Charger smokes its tires at last year's Roadkill Nights. The event has been canceled because of coronavirus concerns.

It joins staples like Mustang Alley and Ferndale's Lights & Sirens Cruise on the sidelines as cities up and down Woodward have canceled their events scheduled for the Aug. 15 Cruise.

The exception is the inaugural Woodward Dream Show which is scheduled to go on as planned Aug.13-15 at Pontiac's M1 Concourse, making it a focal point of attention when cruisers and their families gather later this summer.

Dodge has been a sponsor for Roadkill Nights. Tim Kuniskis, Fiat Chrysler's global chief of passenger cars — and a dedicated cruiser — lamented the cancellation given its status as a “must-attend event for performance enthusiasts for the past five years.”

The rash of cancellations has stoked speculation that the Dream Cruise itself would be canceled, and the Dream Cruise board says it will decide by June 29 whether or not it will give the green light. Civic leaders from Birmingham, Huntington Woods and Ferndale — who have long had a love-hate relationship with the world's biggest traffic jam — have voted for a resolution to cancel the Cruise.

Cruisers are expected to flock to Woodward whether the Dream Cruise is officially canceled or not. Woodward has already been busy, despite COVD-19 concerns, as cruisers have hit the strip and congregated with friends who have a long winter in hibernation.

RoadKill Nights had turned the heat up a notch by shutting down Woodward north of St. Joseph Mercy Parkland hospital and inviting 140 of the top drag racers from around the country to compete for a $30,000 purse in their street-legal rods. Roadkill Nights also offered interactive opportunists for fans to take thrill rides in 700-plus horsepower Dodge muscle cars around the adjacent M1 Concourse. 

The new Woodward Dream Show  Aug. 13-15 will feature a hot rod contest, supercar shootout on the M1 race track, as well as food trucks and other family activities. The Oakland police will lead a Dream Show parade up Woodward on Aug. 15.

Organizers say coronavirus protocols will be followed.

"We will encourage distancing and masks," said CEO Tim Hartge. "Ticketing will be online. Sanitizing stations, gloves, and masks will be available."

Henry Payne is auto critic for The Detroit News. Find him at hpayne@detroitnews.com or Twitter @HenryEPayne.