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After a six-year run, Chevrolet withdraws sponsorship of Woodward Dream Cruise

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Participants roll on Woodward Avenue in Birmingham, Michigan, during the 2016 Dream Cruise. Photo by Barry Kluczyk.

In 2011, Chevrolet inked a three-year deal with the Woodward Dream Cruise, becoming a presenting sponsor of the event for a reported investment of over $1 million. From 2014 through 2016, the automaker returned to help fund the annual rolling auto show, but as The Detroit News reports, Chevrolet is dropping its sponsorship, beginning with this year’s Dream Cruise on August 19.

Celebrating the glory days of the hot rod and the muscle car, the Woodward Dream Cruise runs along its namesake avenue from Ferndale to Pontiac, Michigan. Though officially a one-day event, the activities surrounding the Dream Cruise stretch out for a week or so, with nearly every available parking lot playing host to car shows and gatherings, scheduled and impromptu, throughout the week. Each year, the event draws more than one million visitors, along with an estimated 40,000 active participants, driving everything from stock American classics to full-on customs and drag strip refugees. When Chevrolet signed the initial deal in 2011, it lauded the relationship as “a natural partnership.” Given the realities of a changing customer demographic and weakening sales, the pairing may not be as logical as it once was.

In May 2017, Chevrolet announced a sponsorship deal with the Little Caesars Arena, becoming the official vehicle brand of the venue, the new home of the Detroit Red Wings NHL hockey franchise. The package includes signage along Woodward Avenue (but far south of the Dream Cruise location), along with an outdoor event space to be called Chevrolet Plaza. The Little Caesars Arena deal is the latest Detroit sports tie-in for Chevrolet, which has existing deals with Comerica Park, the Fox Theater, the Detroit Tigers and the Red Wings.

The Chevrolet-sponsored Silverado Rescue Squad will also be absent from this year’s Dream Cruise. Image courtesy Chevrolet.

Chevrolet insists that arena sponsorship had nothing to do with its decision to withdraw backing of the Dream Cruise, and still plans to maintain a presence at this year’s event. Scheduled exhibits include a display of high-performance vehicles at Memorial Park in Royal Oak, along with a second display of classic and contemporary Chevy models in Birmingham. Another thing missing from this year’s show will be the Silverado Rescue Squad, which in years past provided roadside assistance from Chevrolet technicians during the Dream Cruise.

Chevrolet’s departure isn’t expected to have a significant impact on the 2017 Dream Cruise, as a new presenting sponsor is expected to be announced in the coming weeks. Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.