The Woodward Dream Cruise is a classic car event held annually on the third Saturday of August. The WDC Event spans much of Woodward Avenue from Pontiac through Ferndale in Oakland County, Michigan, all the way to the State Fair Grounds inside the Detroit city limits, just south of 8 Mile Road. The portions of Woodward Avenue within the city of Detroit are not directly involved in the Woodward Dream Cruise Event but Detroit will host the 2008 Official Woodward Dream Cruise charity event.
The event is a tribute to classic cruisers, and attracts roughly 1-1.5 million people and upwards of 40,000 muscle cars, street rods, custom, collector and special interest vehicles each year.. These are the types of cars that were available and prevalent during the 1950s, 60s and early 70s prior to the OPEC oil embargo, which led to the Corporate Average Fuel Economy regulations of 1975 and the proliferation of more fuel-efficient, smaller, and less powerful automobiles. In addition, the Woodward Dream Cruise also welcomes cruisers of all models whose owners have either scrupulously maintained, "souped-up", or customized their car to create a unique vehicle or statement.
During the post-war era, people would "cruise" in their cars along Woodward Avenue, from drive-in to drive-in, often looking for peers or friends who were also out for a drive, and perhaps seeking an opportunity for some street racing or at least a chance to "burn rubber" (or "light 'em up") in a quick getaway from a newly green traffic light.
Nelson House, a plumber from Ferndale, initiated the cruise in 1994 to help raise money for a children's soccer field in his community. Community members embraced the idea and met on the second floor of a local bank to organize the cruise in early 1995.
Organizers initially expected 30,000 or 40,000 people to come to the 19 August 1995 inaugural cruise on Woodward Avenue in Ferndale, Pleasant Ridge, Berkley, Huntington Woods, Royal Oak and Birmingham. About 250,000 actually showed up.
The soccer field was eventually built in Martin Road Park, where the Intra Soccer Club now call home.
Nelson House is just a casual cruise spectator now. That first one was his favorite, he said, because it wasn't so commercialized and crowded .It is now the largest single day event in the world, and brings in over $56 million annually for the Metro Detroit economy.
The days leading up to the annual Woodward Dream Cruise Event are traditionally a time of anticipation along the Woodward strip as more and more of these classic vehicles are brought out onto the streets in the week preceding the event, and ancillary events are scheduled in the sponsoring communities of Ferndale, Pleasant Ridge, Royal Oak, Huntington Woods, Berkley, Birmingham, Bloomfield Township, Bloomfield Hills, and Pontiac.
With the success of the Dream Cruise the classic cars now start appearing on Woodward during the first weeks of summer, and cars begin cruising in significant numbers as long as two weeks before the official day of the cruise. This has led to some increased friction between cruise organizers and residents living close to Woodward, who complain about the noise and disruption.