The nascent Interstate 696 crossed Woodward Avenue, so it was easy to get to. The traction was excellent, the late night air was cool and dense, making more power in the engines, there was no cross traffic, and since the road wasn’t open yet, there were no cops. It was simply a matter of removing a few barriers, leaving lots of dense black stripes on the virgin concrete until a winner was determined, and replacing the barriers when they were done. It was the pinnacle of street racing in America, and it all started on Woodward Avenue.
(Yes, we know there was street racing on Van Nuys Boulevard in Los Angeles, on West Chester Pike outside Philadelphia, on Jerome Avenue in the Bronx, all over the back-roads of the Carolinas, in Miami, and hundreds of other places, but none of those streets ever made it into a national advertising campaign for a hot Detroit car like Woodward Avenue did for the Pontiac GTO, and none of them was anywhere near a factory racing department.)
So, please, let us remember that the Woodward Dream Cruise is not a celebration of outstanding Fifties car design. It is not an unmuffled paean to rock ’n ’roll oldies, poodle skirts and pegged pants. It has absolutely nothing to do with Vipers and GT40s and 2004 GTOs from Australia. An orderly procession is everything Woodward Avenue wasn’t about.
It’s about the celebration of vintage horsepower and the ability to get that power through the tires and onto the pavement, launching, driving and shifting so well that the guy in the other lane has no chance. It’s about racing and racers, burnouts and wheelies. Knights errant jousting in the same direction every time the green light blinks until honor is won — or the sheriff shows up with his seneschals to stop the tournament.