FLINT, MI — Back To The Bricks is back for an 11th year, and the lineup of new additions includes displays and activities that introduce young people to auto work, honor the founder of AC Spark Plug, and showcase the past and future of Buick cars.
“If it holds out the way it’s been, we may see a couple thousand more (than usual). There’s no telling,” Bricks Chairwoman Roberta Vasillow said. “We’re expecting as much or more than what we’ve had in the past.”
In its first year, the one-day Back To The Bricks car show attracted 600 cars. Now, it is two weeks full of events, a promotional tour that takes drivers around the state, and thousands of spectators making their way to Genesee County for the famous car cruise.
The first new addition that Vasilow listed for the lineup on Saturday was Hot Rod High, an area where children and young adults will see the different disciplines that go into making cars.
Vendors and schools will present hands-on activities to introduce participants to welding, painting, electrical work and transmission work. The event will be in the downtown Flat Lot on Saginaw Street between 1st and Kearsley Streets.
“Young kids and young adults look at these cars, stand back and say, ‘How do you do this?’ But it’s not that difficult once you understand it,” said committee chair Dale Frey. “Hot Rod High was developed so kids can do hands on work and think, ‘See it’s not that difficult, it’s actually cool.’
“Hopefully they’re interested in taking some classes, and who knows where that leads?”
Buick will have a larger display this year as well, to showcase its past and future. Vasillow said the company will show its new concept car called Avenir, and the Y-Job, the auto industry’s first concept car. They will also display five current car models and the upcoming Cascada luxury convertible.
“They’ve got some new stuff to show off, and they thought Flint was a good place to show it off,” Vasillow said. “There should be some excitement about the Buicks this year.”
On Saturday, during the opening ceremony of the big car show at 10 a.m., the latest in a collection of statues of auto pioneers will be unveiled.
The new statue features Albert Champion, who moved to Flint to work with Billy Durant and founded what would become AC Spark Plug and AC Delco. Champion will join statues of Durant, Louis Chevrolet, David Buick, Walter P. Chrysler, Charles W. Nash, and Otto P. Graff.
Vasillow said that Champion’s great-grandniece and an author who wrote a book about him will speak, and that his scrapbooks and items he collected were donated to the Sloan Museum to be archived and maintained.
A new Michigan Vietnam Memorial Wall that has been showcased around the state will also be on display Saturday, near the University of Michigan pavilion, to honor veterans.
The Friday night concert will return to the former General Motors Grand Blanc Weld Tool facility on Saginaw Street, where it was held for the first time last year. This year, the concert will have different performers: The Heartbeats and Dave Bennett, from 2:30 p.m. through 8:30 p.m.
The Back to the Bricks Artomotive “Raise the Hood” auction, in which people can bid on paintings that artists created on car hoods, will be moved to the Flint Farmers’ Market this year at 2 p.m. on Saturday.
Vasillow said there were more than 20 entries this year, increased from 15 entries in 2014 and eight during the first year.
Aside from the new additions, Back to the Bricks will continue with what has worked so well for them over the past few years.
Tuesday evening will still have the annual free drive-in movie and car show at US-23 Drive-In Theater. Thousands of cars will flood the lot for the show, which begins at 5 p.m., and the theater will screen “Smokey and the Bandit” at dusk.
The route for the Rolling Cruise, which sends classic cars coasting up and down Saginaw Street from Grand Blanc to the bricks in downtown Flint between 5 p.m. and 9 p.m. Wednesday, Thursday and Friday, is similar to previous years. It begins at Robert T. Longway Boulevard and runs through downtown to Cook Road in Grand Blanc.
Food and music will be at the megasite at Robert T. Longway and Fifth Avenue. Wednesday and Thursday will also have a pinewood derby and a miniature toy car tournament in Grand Blanc from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. The derby is Thomas Appliance, located at 5600 Saginaw St., and tournament is at First Baptist Church of Grand Blanc, 6106 S. Saginaw St.
The big car show is on Saturday. Show car parking begins as early as 6 a.m. in downtown Flint, and Saginaw Street and 5th Street will be open for show cars at 8 a.m.
Buicks are invited for a “112 years of Buick” party with food and drinks on Water Street at the Durant-Dort Carriage Company building.
A Hillbilly Breakfast Buffet is at Masonic Temple, 755 S. Saginaw St., from 6:30 a.m. till 10 a.m. Admission is $8 for adults, $6 for children age 5-10, and free for children 4 and under.
From 8 a.m. till 5 p.m., attendees can enjoy the car show, a display of drag racing cars in the flat lot at South Saginaw Street and Kearsley, a free car corral, automotive vendor displays.
Children’s activities like a coloring wall, face painting and balloon art last from 11 a.m. till 3 p.m. Glenwood Cemetery will host walking tours with actors playing automobile greats, Civil War reenactments and more from 11 a.m. till 3 p.m.
St. Paul’s Episcopal Church will host automotive art and church tours will be at from 10 a.m. till 5 p.m. St. Paul’s is located at 711 S. Saginaw St. in Flint, and Glenwood Cemetery is located at 2500 Court St. in Flint.