All Roads Lead to the Bricks!
Back to the Bricks attracts over 500,000 car enthusiasts annually to Genesee County to celebrate our love of motor vehicles, and the area's historic role in the automotive industry. Tune-up Parties and Promo Tours generate enthusiasm in advance of the Main Event which provides a showcase for classic, custom, and collector vehicles of all kinds. During the week, Flint, birthplace of “America’s Sports Car”, proudly hosts a National Reunion for Corvette aficionados. Music, food vendors, and family-friendly activities add to the festive atmosphere.
MAIN EVENT WEEK
The five-day extravaganza begins with a family-oriented party at a nostalgic Drive-In theatre. Excited crowds line the streets for the “Rolling Cruises.” On Friday, there is a car show, concert, and dance party with a Motown theme. Thousands stroll the brick streets on Saturday to admire vehicles of every age and description, take pictures, buy souvenirs, and enjoy the fun.read more
TUNE UP WEEK
During the week prior to the main event, the excitement builds as Tune-up Parties rev up on successive days around the county. Attractions and activities vary by location, but include parties with a 50's, 60's, or 70's theme, concessions, vendors, live music, dancing in the streets, giveaways, and the opportunity to drive around the track at Auto City Speedway in Clio, Michigan.
Promo Tours each June are a time of adventure and camaraderie for hundreds of classic car owners. The tours are designed to generate enthusiasm for Back to the Bricks with mini car shows in each locale along the way and tours of automotive facilities and museums for the participants. Routes have included parts of Ohio, Indiana, and a host of cities in Michigan with communities vying to be included.read more
CHROME AND ICE SHOW
For the first time, Back to the Bricks and Buick will sponsor an indoor winter car show, “Chrome and Ice.” The inaugural event, scheduled for February 12-13, 2016 at the Dort Federal Credit Union Event Center in Flint, Michigan, will feature a “summertime” theme, complete with sand and palm trees, and entertainment by a California-based “beach boy” band.
In the fall of 2004, Al Hatch and other car enthusiasts began to discuss the possibility of a car show in downtown Flint that would complement and coincide with the ‘Woodward Dream Cruise’ in Detroit. Together, they began to take steps that would make Back to the Bricks a reality. When the committee approached Jerry Preston of the Flint Convention and Visitors Bureau about sponsoring the event, he arranged a meeting with the Small Business Owners of Downtown Flint to enlist their support for a bold new venture that promised to revitalize the city, and attract thousands to the area to celebrate the automotive industry and its role in the history of Flint.
With the backing of these two entities, the committee convinced city leaders to grant the necessary permits to close approximately three blocks of the historic "red bricks" under the arches of Saginaw Street for the first Back to the Bricks, scheduled for August 2005. Still, with no operating budget, and no major sponsors, the fledging organization faced a daunting task. Committee member, John Chapin, volunteered the artistic talents of his son Jason, to design the first giveaway, a t-shirt that would market the event to potential participants, and promotional flyers to advertise the "Bricks." Doc Watson of the Hurst Shifter Corporation agreed to underwrite the cost of the t-shirts, and Jeff Giesert, owner of Economy Print in Downtown Flint, volunteered his services to produce the flyers. Stories in The Flint Journal and on ABC 12 News brought additional attention and generated enthusiasm for the project.
Few believed or could have envisioned the success of the new venture. Thanks to corporate sponsors like General Motors, Buick, ELGA Credit Union, and many others, Back to the Bricks has grown from a one-day event with only a few hundred cars and spectators to a multi-day extravaganza. The fun begins with Promo Tours each June to various locales around the Great Lakes. During the week prior to the Bricks, Tune-Up Parties across Genesee County set the stage for the Main Event. Combined, these festive celebrations today attract half a million car enthusiasts and spectators from around the nation and the world.
In 2012, Back to the Bricks unveiled the first of several commemorative statues of important automotive pioneers. Life-size bronze replicas of David Buick, William C. (Billy) Durant, Louis Chevrolet, and Albert Champion stand proudly in GM Automotive Pioneer Plaza in downtown Flint. Statues of Walter P. Chrysler and Charles W. Nash welcome visitors in the baggage claim area at Bishop Airport. A statue of Otto P. Graff stands at the corner of Court and Saginaw Street near the site of his early dealership. A bronze replica of Charles Stewart Mott, local philanthropist, will soon grace the campus of the college that bears his name. The Statue Project plans to honor other historic figures from the automotive industry in the future. For the first time, Back to the Bricks and Buick will sponsor an indoor winter car show, "Chrome and Ice." The inaugural event, scheduled for February 12-13, 2016 at the Dort Federal Credit Union Event Center in Flint, Michigan, will feature a "summertime" theme, complete with sand, palm trees, and entertainment by a California-based "beach boy" band.
In 2012, Back to the Bricks unveiled the first of several commemorative statues of important automotive pioneers. Life-size bronze replicas of David Buick, William C. (Billy) Durant, Louis Chevrolet, and Albert Champion stand proudly in GM Automotive Pioneer Plaza in downtown Flint. Statues of Walter P. Chrysler and Charles W. Nash welcome visitors in the…read more
Designed to acknowledge the creativity and art of the automotive body shop and other painters and designers of automotive art, contestants use a vehicle hood as a canvas for their expression. Because the canvas is metal, it can not only be painted, but it can be cut, bent and otherwise formed at the artists desire.…read more
Back to the Brick's Auto Heritage Committee not only oversees the creation and display of bronze statues honoring Flint's Automobile Pioneers, it also owns, maintains, restores and loans for display unusual and rare automobile memorabilia and artifacts including all or parts of special vehicles. This is just a part of its work in fulfilling Back…read more
Spring, which seemed questionable only a week ago, has finally arrived. After a winter hiatus in Florida, we have returned along with the rest of the snowbirds to our home in Michigan, and are eagerly anticipating and preparing for the summer’s events. In fact, I spent some serious time in the garage today getting our cars ready for the driving season.
Before you know it, it will be time for the 2016 Promo Tour, aka the “Friendship” Tour. Tour chair Rhonda Rau and her committee are working to finalize plans for the tour in June. Routes have been determined, and will feature scenic back roads instead of expressways. The tour will begin Friday morning with a breakfast buffet sponsored by Security First Credit Union at the IINN on the corner of Saginaw Street and Hemphill Road in Flint. Overnight stops will include Ypsilanti, Port Huron, East Tawas, Grayling, and West Branch. The traditional “donut stop,” sponsored by Hagerty Insurance, will greet us each morning. Along the way, there will be door prizes, police escorts, auto museums, a beach party, lunch hosted by a couple of communities, and a special car show on the grounds of Camp Grayling for our men and women in uniform. Birch Run, our last overnight stop, will host the ‘End of the Road’ luncheon on Wednesday, June 16. This year, instead of the six large envelopes, (one for each day), you will receive a spiral bound tour booklet complied by committee member Ralph Messer in your registration packet that will contain information about daily routes, activities, emergency numbers, and a list of participants that will also serve as a cherished memento of your tour experience.
Based on current registrations, we expect a record number of participants this year with over two hundred collector cars from all over the state of Michigan, and as far away as Tennessee. There’s still time to join the tour. It’s easy. Register online, or download the form and send it by mail. Click here for information about hotels. There are several options at each of the overnight stops in the event “host’ hotels are already booked.
Cars were built to drive, not hide in a garage afraid of a little rain. Avoid the late fee. Register today to join the fun and friendship. You will be glad you did.
Al Hatch, Board Chair and Founder
Back to the Bricks, Inc.
P.S. Another blast from the past. Our neighbors in Florida shared this memory. Growing up in Boston and accustomed to public transit, Janet had never driven a car, let alone a stick shift. Shortly after they were married in the early sixties, John surprised his young bride with a car of her own, a used VW from the late 50’s. The learning curve that followed was both frustrating and amusing as Janet practiced letting the clutch out slowly to avoid whiplash, giving the engine just the right amount of gas, and stopping on an incline. Feeling brave, the novice driver merrily drove around the city in her “new” car until it mysteriously coasted to a stop. With no cell phone back then to summon her husband or call for assistance, she hailed a passerby who asked her if she was sure she had gas in the tank, to which she replied, “Gas? I don’t even know where the tank is!” When the gentlemen opened the trunk which on a VW was in the front of the car to see if there was any gas in the tank, the first words out of her mouth were “Where is the motor? The motor is gone.” Her adoring husband had never told her that she needed to put gas in the car or how to accomplish that feat. Ah, first time driving stories are great!
Back to the Bricks is proud to be a non-profit annual event. Sponsorship from the community is what really makes this happen. We have been blessed to have substantial growth every year in our short history. Please contact Back to the Bricks for information about becoming a sponsor.