Seeing and being seen at the Dream Cruise
The Woodward Dream Cruise. It’s my favorite day of the summer; a collection of everything vehicular that one could possibly imagine (or dream, even) parked along or rolling down Woodward Avenue.
This year, as always, I saw the old (muscle cars, ’57 Chevys, E-type Jags), the newer-than-new (ZR1s and Challengers for all!), the obscure (a Citroen C3 Pluriel and several other Europe-only cars) and the truly unique (a mid-90s Dodge Ram dually that had been widened stem to stern to look like a single-rear-wheel truck*). And people saw me – or more accurately the supercar I was driving.
With the senior edit staff off in California attending a more exclusive car show, I was left the keys to the magazine’s Four Seasons Audi R8 for the weekend. It was my first time in the car and I quickly found that everyone, and I mean everyone, notices the R8.
I didn’t really mind most of the attention, though I did feel weird receiving it in such an expensive car that wasn’t mine – especially when several people had the moxie to ask what it cost. At that point, I felt compelled to tell them I didn’t own it. Others just asked what it was, whether it was a new model, or who was letting me drive it. (I was glad that not everyone assumed I was an R8 owner.)
It started on Friday night when I pulled up next to a new Challenger wearing a manufacturer’s plate. Apparently the gentleman inside needed to prove that his car, like mine, had an engine. After making a drifty left turn that almost put his car into a wall, he did a burnout next to me and continued to pace alongside the R8, gunning his engine and lurching forward when traffic allowed. Cool Mopar, guy.
Out on Woodward, I was like a kid in a slow-moving, gasoline-fueled candy store, my eyes constantly darting from one unique creation to the next. I’ve been present for most of the 14 Dream Cruises so far including the first in 1995, but this was the first time I was the one being seen and not just doing the seeing myself. While creeping along on Saturday I pointed something out to my passenger, saying “that’s cool!” as I did so many times over the weekend. Someone in an old Camaro one lane over heard me, pointed back at us and said, “No, that’s cool.” Touché, sir.
The attention was not limited to the cruise and continued at highway speeds. I had people come up behind me at 90-plus mph to get a look at the car. Cameraphones snapped away while cars hovered in the R8′s blind spot. Thumbs up and funny stares were par for the course around town and on the freeway. People stop and stare wherever this car goes.
I enjoyed my weekend of indirect attention and my first R8 experience. All of the eyes on the car got me thinking: I could probably use it to get a date. I may have to test that hypothesis soon.
*If anyone knows anything about that widened Ram, please share in the comments.