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When I think of great cities, I often think of two things—their people and their streets. I grew up a “street kid” in New York City. That’s where I played stickball and touch football, traded bad jokes with the guys at the “benches” and bragged about my first car—a horrible, but working, Rambler my father bought me for 35 bucks…and breathed in the urban air, reveling in the energy all around me. Ah…that energy!

That’s why I’m jazzed about what’s ahead here in Detroit because the auto industry is planning to energize our streets with two major events. After all, the streets are where cars and people belong – together, in motion.

Our auto show is not only going to finally return after several pandemic-related delays (and one rainy dress rehearsal last fall), but it will go far beyond the traditional indoor displays out onto the streets and public places of our beloved Motor City.

Detroit is even finally in the name of the show – prominently! Known as the North American International Auto Show since 1989, reflecting its heritage and new presence, the logo now proudly reads “North American International Detroit Auto Show” with the name of our city big and bold…because Detroit is exactly that.

It was always fun to hop in and out of the cars and trucks on display, but it’s more fun to step on the gas (or nowadays, EV accelerator) and go. It’s even better if you imagine yourself navigating the turns and straights on a Grand Prix course. Ha! Done and done. Several brands will offer rides on courses on sections of the 2023 Detroit Grand Prix circuit. Tracks will be set up inside Huntington Place, as well. Take your pick.

That brings me to the second event inspiring me about Detroit. It was recently announced that next year the Grand Prix crosses the MacArthur Bridge from Belle Isle back onto a downtown street circuit. Belle Isle is beautiful by itself, but it’s a park with limited access.

Roaring racers belong on city blacktop rumbling through the urban canyons and glistening riverfront, whizzing by rabid fans arriving on foot, bike, or yes, motor vehicles – many of whom not only know cars but build them. That’s uniquely Detroit.

As an auto reporter I write about all sorts of technical and design innovations, financial results and executive shuffles. They’re all important but bringing these two events out onto our streets sparks a more visceral emotion.

They aren’t just stories…they’re invitations to everyone, everywhere, to experience the motion, pulse and energy our town has to offer while shoulder-to-shoulder with real people at street level under a blue sky enjoying the ingenuity of the city that put the world on wheels.

That’s inspiring. That’s Detroit.

Ed Garsten is an Integrated Media Consultant at Franco.