May 20, 2022

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Half the Automotive

Our favorite 65 photos, stories from the 17th annual Back to the Bricks

FLINT, MI — Thousands of car enthusiasts roamed Flint’s Saginaw Street on Saturday, Aug. 21, to see classic cars, capping two weeks of automotive celebration during the 17th annual Back to the Bricks.

The MLive/Flint Journal photo staff selected favorite images captured amid all the automotive action. Take a look through the gallery above to relive the best moments from the events.

But there’s more.

We wanted to make sure you had the chance to read all of the interesting stories we found through our coverage as well.

The first week was filled with tune-up parties, where we connected with Clio 72-year-old Dutch Vanderkarr and Montose 74-year-old Jerry Rowell.

Back to the Bricks 2021 kicks off with tune-up party in Davison

Clio resident Dutch Vanderkarr, 72 at left, and his friend Jerry Rowell, a 74-year-old from Montrose, sit side by side, as they do every year, with their classic cars parked next to one another while taking in the Back to the Bricks tune-up party on Monday, Aug. 9, 2021 in the VG’s parking lot in Davison. (Jake May | MLive.com)Jake May

The pair didn’t know each other in high school, both graduating from Ainsworth High School in 1967, but decades later they became friends over their shared love of classic cars and meet up and drive to tune-up parties and Back to the Bricks events.

We continued to cover more tune-up parties throughout the week, including an interview with Durand resident Joe Hopper, who brought his customized 1977 Ford F250 to the car show in Swartz Creek.

“I was not expecting this many cars to show up this year. With the whole COVID-19 situation, I thought people might have some cabin fever,” Hopper said. “I think it lit a fire under everyone — me included — whose cars have been sitting in their garages.”

There was no shortage of interesting or unique vehicles parked at each event.

On Tuesday, Aug. 17, Brick Flicks was in full effect at the US-23 Drive-In along Fenton Road in Mundy Township. And so was Brian Converso’s Mountain Dew camper.

The boxy truck is covered in Mountain Dew signage from the 1960s with the former slogan: “It’ll tickle your innards.”

Burton man with affinity for Mountain Dew decks out old truck with vintage style at Back to the Bricks

Brian Converso, 61, poses with his Mountain Dew camper during the Back to the Bricks “Brick Flicks” event on Tuesday, Aug. 18, 2021 at US 23 Drive In Theatre in Flint. (Isaac Ritchey | MLive.com)Isaac Ritchey | MLive.com

Converso, 61, of Burton, said he decided to renovate the truck to reflect his love for the beverage because he wanted to do something different.

“I don’t like to be the guy at the car show to show with something you’re going to see more of,” he said.

The Rolling Cruise nights kicked off on Wednesday, Aug. 18 with Grand Marshall Bobby Mukkamala, Flint Mayor Sheldon Neeley and other officials cutting the ribbon outside of Factory One in Flint.

Rolling Cruises kick off at Factory One in Flint

NASCAR driver Erik Jones, Dr. Bobby Mukkamala and Flint Mayor Sheldon Neeley stand with Back to the Bricks officials as they cut the ribbon to kick of the Back to the Bricks Rolling Cruises on Wednesday, Aug. 18, 2021 at Factory One in Flint. The parade route stretches from the Òred bricksÓ of Saginaw Street in downtown Flint to Grand Blanc. Mukkamala is the 2021 Show and Cruise official Grand Marshall. (Jake May | MLive.com)Jake May

“How wonderful and how blessed we are as a community,” Neeley said. “We have to thank God for this amazing day and this amazing city. Back to the Bricks is a part of the DNA of this community. This is what defines us in how we rise as a community.”

The Rolling Cruise continued into Thursday, Aug, 19, and with another sunny night, hundreds of cars drove from the historic bricks of downtown Flint to Grand Blanc along Saginaw Street.

Families lined up along the street to catch a glimpse of their favorite vintage vehicles, featuring so many from decades past and present.

Mid-week, we connected with Jeff Penrod of Swartz Creek, who was reunited with his 1968 burgundy Ford Mustang. His parents promised him the car when he was 14 years old. Their one condition: he had to get all A’s in school.

At some point his grades slipped, and they sold it because of that.

His wife Brianna found the car — the exact car — and bought it back for him. He became very emotional when he first saw it after all that time, Jeff Penrod said.

“In hindsight, it being gone for 20-plus years was probably better for the car,” Penrod said, adding there’s no way to tell what condition the car could have been in.

NASCAR driver Erik Jones of Byron established a charitable foundation to benefit three things that are close to his heart, making the announcement live on Friday at Back to the Bricks.

The three-time NASCAR Cup Series winner is starting the Erik Jones Foundation, aiming “to ignite children’s passion for reading, encourage early cancer detection and care, and promote animal welfare.”

Back to the Bricks Cruise N’ Concert grooves in downtown Flint

NASCAR driver Erik Jones, a Byron native, announces that he has established a charitable foundation to benefit three things that are close to his heart — reading, animals and early detection for cancer patients — during Back to the Bricks Cruise N’ Concert Friday, Aug. 20, 2021 on Saginaw Street in downtown Flint. (Isaac Ritchey | MLive.com)Isaac Ritchey | MLive.com

“The experiences I’ve had growing up shaped what my Foundation is about,” Jones said in a statement. “I really enjoy reading, but with all the technology kids have available to them today, the joy of just sitting down with a good book is getting lost. I want to change that.

“Obviously, losing my dad to cancer was hard – and it still is – but it’s made me so mindful of how important early detection is, because the sooner you diagnose it, the more options you have for treatment.

“And I do love animals, and all the pets I’ve had meant a lot to me. I want to do what I can to ensure they’re enjoying healthy and happy lives, too.”

Back to the Bricks Cruise N’ Concert grooves in downtown Flint

Vocal group Motown All-Stars performs during Back to the Bricks Cruise N’ Concert concert Friday, Aug. 20, 2021 on Saginaw Street in downtown Flint. (Isaac Ritchey | MLive.com)Isaac Ritchey | MLive.com

On Friday night, Aug. 20, Doo-wop groups The Reflections and Motown All-Stars each performed on stage on the bricks of Saginaw Street in downtown Flint for the Back to the Bricks Cruise ‘N’ Concert.

Not long after the last of the lawn chairs and spectators left the concert, cruisers rolled into downtown early Saturday morning, Aug. 21. Thousands of car enthusiasts roamed the streets to take in cars, music, food and more throughout downtown.

The opening ceremony honored veterans and active duty personnel, including flyovers from military aircraft and a rendition of the National Anthem.

Thousands attend 17th annual Back to the Bricks

Bob Buschman of Corunna, left, a military veteran, watches as WWII warbirds fly overhead during the opening ceremony of Back to the Bricks Saturday Show Saturday, Aug. 21, 2021 on Saginaw Street in downtown Flint. (Isaac Ritchey | MLive.com)Isaac Ritchey | MLive.com

Take a look through the links below for full stories from the digest above and more.

Read more on MLive.com:

Son learns of late father’s legacy through classic car community after he died of brain cancer

High school classmates strike bond over love of classic cars nearly 50 years after graduation

Tune-Up week for Back to the Bricks continues as classic rides roll into Swartz Creek

Man decks out truck at Brick Flicks in tribute to love of Mountain Dew

Back to the Bricks Rolling Cruise kickoff celebrates Flint’s rich automotive history

Drivers motor through Genesee County on second night of Back to the Bricks Rolling Cruise

After his parents sold it more than 20 years ago over grades, Swartz Creek man reunited with Mustang

NASCAR’s Erik Jones of Byron announces charitable foundation at Back to the Bricks

Car enthusiast in Burton uses retirement to dive deeper into ‘tinkering’ hobby

Back to the Bricks Cruise ‘N’ Concert grooves in downtown Flint

Rousing salute to veterans, with WWII warbirds soaring, kicks off Main Event Day at Back to the Bricks

Tune-Up week for Back to the Bricks will span 6 Genesee County communities

Back to the Bricks Main Event Week to kick off with new car show, pay homage to Genesee County leaders