Back To The Bricks
The five-dayBack To The Bricks extravaganza begins with a family-oriented party at a nostalgic Drive-In theater. 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.
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, Fodd Vendors, and Family-Friendly activities add to the festive atmosphere.
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.