Woodward Dream Show is final cruise-associated event to be canceled due to pandemic

Henry Payne
The Detroit News

There is no joy in Motown. The Woodward Dream Show has struck out.

The inaugural Woodward Dream Show at the M1 Concourse in Pontiac, which was scheduled to go on Aug. 12-15 despite the cancellation of the Aug. 15 Woodward Dream Cruise, is the latest casualty of the coronavirus. All of the traditional city- and corporate-sponsored events — from the Berkley Cruise Parade to Ford's Mustang Alley — have all been kicked to the curb by organizers this year, even as cruisers have continued to rumble up Woodward Avenue.

The  Woodward Dream Show at M1 Concourse in Pontiac, which was scheduled to go on Aug. 12-15 despite the cancellation of the Aug. 15 Woodward Dream Cruise, has been canceled. The race track has been the site of the Road Kill Nights event, shown here, ahead of the Dream Cruise.

Motorheads held out hopes that the Dream Show — held outdoors at the M1 Concourse, a private race track and grounds in Pontiac — would be immune to the wave of cancellations. But the governor’s restrictions on public gatherings were too tight for the event to go forward.

“This was a difficult decision, but based on the ever-changing business environment and health concerns in Michigan and across the country, we have decided to postpone the inaugural Woodward Dream Show to 2021,” said Tim Hartge, CEO of Pontiac Motorsports Exposition, organizer of the event. 

The Dream Show organizers instead promise to kick off Dream Cruise week next year, the first of a twin bill of big events at M1 Concourse that will include the American Festival of Speed in early October. The events are explicitly modeled after the Goodwood Festival of Speed and Goodwood Revival, England's world-renowned motoring exhibitions.

The 2020 Dream Show had planned three days of events that included a “Best of the Best” automobile show, a point-to-point timed race on M1’s 1.5-mile Champion Speedway race course, food trucks and a fashion show.

Organizers worked with state officials to provide proper safety protocols including ticket-only admission and hand sanitizers across the 87-acre facility, but social-distancing requirements meant the numbers didn’t add up.

Dream Show organizers then briefly flirted with the idea of doing an invitation-only event that would be live-streamed. But that was deemed insufficient for the show's ambitious goals.

"We certainly appreciate the capabilities that online car shows have to offer," said Hartge, "but no matter how we scheduled it, the final product wasn’t going to be all we hoped to bring to the car enthusiast public."

The M1 car club also traditionally plays host to Roadkill Nights sponsored by Dodge — legal drag racing on Woodward Avenue — the weekend before the Dream Cruise, but that was also canceled this year.

The Dream Show’s struggles come as car enthusiasts across the country are grappling with the new COVID-19 environment. IndyCar announced over the weekend that it is postponing its event next weekend at Mid-Ohio race track north of Columbus as Ohio has tightened its health rules.

Meanwhile, Road America race track in Wisconsin hosted an IMSA sports car race last weekend that brought thousands to its 600 acres. And some 10,000 fans attended a NASCAR race in New Hampshire where facility capacity was limited to 20%. In Phoenix, Barrett-Jackson auctions announced that it will open again to the public this fall.

“The level of premium cars that people were bringing is something that the public should get a chance to experience first-hand,” Hartge said of the Dream Show. “Postponing our debut will allow us to better plan for next year’s show and allow the public to experience our ‘best of the best’ philosophy of an automotive event.”

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