Motor City Car Crawl prepares to roll in 6 downtown Detroit parks

Kalea Hall Maureen Feighan
The Detroit News

Detroit If you've been in car withdrawal ever since the North American International Auto Show was canceled, take heart, Metro Detroit gearheads. Your chance to get up close with some new wheels will happen this weekend in downtown Detroit.

The first ever Motor City Car Crawl event kicks off at noon Thursday with vehicle displays across six downtown parks mixed with entertainment and plenty of food truck options. 

The Car Crawl, put on by the Detroit Auto Dealers Association with the Downtown Detroit Partnership, will feature about 50 vehicles, including the latest from Ford Motor Co. and Stellantis NV, maker of Jeeps a Ram trucks, General Motors Co. and Toyota Motor Corp. 

Event Next's Blaize McIntyre, of Washington Twp., director, event logistics, carefully climbs out of this 2021 Jeep Wrangler Unlimited Rubicon 392 after driving it onto a 31-degree ramp at Grand Circus Park, Wednesday morning, August 4, 2021.

"This is community driven and we just want people in the region to come down ...  and celebrate Detroit and what we're all about," said Rod Alberts, executive director of the DADA. "We're throwing a party for the community."

Six downtown parks — Spirit of Detroit Plaza, Campus Martius, Capital Park, Grand Circus Park, DTE Beacon Park and Cadillac Square — will all be part of the event, which is free to the public, except for a Saturday evening charity gala featuring singer Cheryl Crow at Campus Martius.

JST Events employee Wade Urban, right, of Rapid City, SD, spots as Blaize McIntyre, of Washington Twp., from Event Next, drives a 2021 Jeep Wrangler Unlimited Rubicon 392 onto this 31-degree ramp at Grand Circus Park, Wednesday morning, Aug. 4, 2021.

Eric Larson, chief executive officer of the Downtown Detroit Partnership, expects that the Motor City Car Crawl will likely draw downtown's biggest crowds since pre-COVID. The largest event before this was the Grand Prix on Belle Isle over Memorial Day weekend.

"Over the four days, this will surpass that and will have tremendous positive impact," said Larson.

And part of that positive impact will be on local businesses and restaurants, who are getting ready for a busy weekend.

Scott LePage, the owner of Lumen in Beacon Park, admits he was a bit anxious when he first heard about the Car Crawl. Staffing has continued to be an issue at the restaurant but he called his other restaurants — Big Rock Chophouse and Griffin Claw Brewing Company in Birmingham — seeking volunteers for the weekend and he's ready.

Lumen used to get Beacon Park ready for concerts every season before COVID.

"We haven’t had to do it in so long," said LePage. "Sometimes it's as simple as 'Do we have enough ice?' We’ll get through it. We’re definitely excited — once the anxiety wore off."

Vroom Vroom

Consumers will get a chance to see new vehicles up close after a year of virtual reveals and canceled auto shows during the pandemic. 

Cadillac Square will have global brands represented, including the new Ford F-150, Chevrolet Silverado LTZ, Cadillac Escalade and Toyota Camry.

The first Motor City Car Crawl created by the Detroit Auto Dealers Association and the Downtown Detroit Partnership kicks off this Thursday in downtown Detroit. There will be new vehicles on display, entertainment and food.

In Campus Martius, racing vehicles, including the Detroit Grand Prix Formula 1 and Michigan International Speedway Pace Car, will be on display.

Capital Park is the luxury zone featuring the Jeep GC L (summit reserve trim), F-150 Platinum and GT500.

DTE Beacon Park is showcasing electric vehicles including the Pacifica Hybrid, Wrangler 4xe, Ford F-150 Hybrid, Mustang Mach-E and Toyota Rav4 Hybrid.

Grand Circus will be home to off-road vehicles with several Stellantis products on display including the TRX, Ram trucks and Jeeps. The new Ford Bronco and Bronco Sport and GM's GMC AT4 Canyon will also be on display. Toyota will be represented with the Tacoma TRD Pro, Tundra TRD Pro and 4Runner TRD Pro.

GM will also have the Chevrolet Camaro SS and Chevrolet Bolt EV in Spirit Plaza.

Product specialists will be at the parks to take questions. 

Food trucks galore

There will be a mix of trucks throughout all six parks during the crawl.

Trucks slated to attend include: Detroit’s Original Seafood Company, Los Dos Amigos, The Wizard Truck, Big Bo’s Grill, Impastato, Curbside 313, Motor City Sweet Treats, Milk and Froth Ice Cream, Aruba Freeze and LA’s Lemonade. 

Jamie Lara with Los Dos Amigos Taco Track out of southwest Detroit said they're planning on a busy weekend. They'll be rotating throughout the parks — Thursday at Cadillac Square; Friday at Spirit plaza; Saturday at Cadillac Square; and Sunday at Beacon Park — serving a mix of tacos, quesadillas, burritos, chips, salsa and guacamole.

ShowFleet employee Cody Kyriakides, of Waterford, wipes down the hood on this 2021 Toyota 4Runner parked at Grand Circus Park, Wednesday morning, August 4, 2021.

"It should be a good time from start to finish," said Lara.

LePage of Lumen at Beacon Park, meanwhile, said along with dinner service at the restaurant — they don't have enough staffing right now to offer lunch as well — they'll also have a bar set up in Beacon Park operating throughout the weekend. He suggests people make reservations — though patio seating is first come, first served — and plan in advance.

"They’re closing Plaza Street," said LePage. "We do have two parking lots right behind us – and we’ll be controlled by our valet. And there's the DTE lot off of our first street."

Entertainment 

The Motor City Car Crawl will also feature a mix of entertainment.

R&B artist Lucky Daye will perform a free concert on Friday in Beacon Park. Opening acts start at 6:30 p.m.

The Michigan Philharmonic orchestra, meanwhile, will perform in Campus Martius Park from 6-7 p.m. on Friday. Following the performance, there will be a family movie night showing of the animated film "Cars 2" with free popcorn and other giveaways.

There will also be other family friendly events happening at the Car Crawl. 

In Spirit Plaza, the Detroit Pistons will have an interactive activation including free giveaways for children. 

A cornhole competition is planned from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. Thursday in Beacon Park.

Sunday is "Family Fun Day" at Beacon Park with a Run and Play Field Day scheduled from noon-5 p.m. There will be fitness activities for kids, model car making, and an inflatable obstacle course, among other activities.

ST Events employee Wade Urban, of Rapid City, South Dakota, builds a 31-degree ramp that will hold a 2021 Jeep Wrangler Unlimited Rubicon 392 at Grand Circus Park,  Aug. 4, 2021. Crews set up and detail vehicles at Grand Circus Park to prepare for the first Motor City Car Crawl event, Thursday through Sunday.

The stages located in Capitol Park, Cadillac Square, Grand Circus Park, Spirit Plaza will feature local musicians throughout the event, including stages curated by Detroit music collective D. Cipher.

Crow will be headlining the charity gala Saturday at Campus Martius. Tickets for the event are $250 with proceeds going to Detroit children charities. 

Motor City Car Crawl

Noon-9 p.m. Thursday; noon-10 p.m. Friday and Saturday; noon-5 p.m. Sunday.

Cars and activities will be spread out at six downtown parks — Spirit of Detroit Plaza, Campus Martius, Capital Park, Grand Circus Park, DTE Beacon Park and Cadillac Square.

Purchase tickets to the charity gala at https://naias.com/motor-city-car-crawl.