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Back to the Bricks

Local cruise founder reflects on 10 years of success

August 06, 2014 - Atlas Twp.- It started with just a conversation with a friend.

"Fellow car nut John Capin and I were out for a drive one day and decided to host a cruise the same August weekend as the Woodwood Cruise," said township resident Allen Hatch, 69.

"Our goal was to capitalize on some of the shortcomings of the Woodward event that covers eight communities and is riddled with gridlocks during the cruise," he said. "Our concept was to close off the whole downtown area of Flint on Saginaw Street where the bricks are—provide food, live entertainment and make it free."

Grounded in a community built on the American automobile—Back to the Bricks was born in 2005, attracting about 600 classic cars that first year. Now a decade has passed and more than a million classic car fans have attended Back to the Bricks, making it one of the top 20 auto events in America recognized by MSN Automotive.

"Our mission was to create a positive impact on the local economy," he added. "We considered, too, that everyone has a car story to tell—we hear visitors to Back to the Bricks talk about 'the first car they drove' or 'I owned a car like that one time,'" laughed Hatch.

"We succeeded thanks to hundreds of people that made the event work. They estimate now, 10 years later, that more than 40,000 classic cars will be on the bricks or participate in one of the events we have in Genesee County next week," Hatch said. "It's really not my accomplishment, it's the state and the Flint community. We still want to improve, keeping the status quo would be failing. The true winners are the local economy—the latest estimate is $20-$30 million during the five days. We even have Buick as sponsor this year."

This year Back to the Bricks is Aug. 12-16.

"There are only 22 miles from Pontiac to the Grand Blanc area that separate the Dream Cruise and Back to the Bricks. Some from the Dream Cruise have asked, 'Why do you do it on the same weekend?' And it has been proposed that we switch dates, but right now if we switched and our numbers increased, we would have just too many. Today the two events compliment each other—there are just different elements."

A Flint native and Bentley High School graduate, Hatch attended the University of Michigan-Flint and completed his studies after a stint in the Army during the Vietnam era. He later worked as an account manager for Rockwell International, which included many Flint-area General Motors plants.

Hatch is also a collector of classic vehicles including a 1966 Corvette and a 1964 Pontiac GTO convertible.

Hatch also takes the show on the road with the 5th Annual Back to the Bricks Promotion Tour now titled 'Michiana Tour.' The Michigan to Indiana cruises from Flint, Jackson, Battle Creek, Lansing to Elkhart and Alburn, Indiana.

For more information on Back to the Bricks visit

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