Driving Down Memory Lane With Highlights From ‘Woodward Dream Cruise’ And ‘Back To The Bricks’

Matick Chevy Back to Bricks Overview Cars
Back to the Bricks crowds pack Flint.  

Classic car cruisers from around the globe head to Michigan for two special events every August – the Woodward Dream Cruise, which runs along Woodward Avenue from Pontiac south to Ferndale, and Back to the Bricks in downtown Flint.

And Michigan Corvettes were well represented. Larry Courtney, driving his U.S. flag-wrapped Corvette, was busy along the Woodward Avenue route during Dream Cruise week while Corvette racecar driver Danny Kellermeyer set up his racing display at The Bricks. Matick Chevy in Redford, Mich. sponsors both Corvette enthusiasts.

Matick Chevy Larry Courtney Corvettes on Woodward
This skull hot rod was one of Larry Courtney's favorites during the Woodward Dream Cruise.

Corvette event organizer Courtney and his wife, Verna, maintained a full schedule in advance of the Dream Cruise.

This year's Corvettes on Woodward, a gathering of Corvettes Courtney normally coordinates the Wednesday before Dream Cruise to raise money for food banks, had a last-minute change.

Courtney says he cancelled the mega-Corvette event as a result of some changes by his host site. “I did not have a good site to get all the Corvette owners together this year. I contacted everyone about the change in plans and kept all of the other tours and events we sponsor in place,” he adds.

One of those events was an annual food drive at the Royal Oak-based Open Hands Food Bank at St. John’s Church, of which Courtney and others have been a long-time supporter. The Courtneys reported a steady stream of Corvettes dropping off food and checks at the facility all day long. In the past, Courtney and other Corvette owners would have dropped their donations off at the food bank as a part the Corvettes on Woodward gathering.

Matick Chevy Paws At Corvettes on Woodward
Detroit Tigers mascot PAWS showed up at the food bank drive to thank those making donations.

“I did a radio interview with Frank Beckmann on WJR on Aug. 15 where we talked about Corvettes on Woodward and the food drive. It was during the interview that I mentioned that all cruisers would be welcome to stop by and drop off donations. On Wednesday people came in droves and said they heard the interview and wanted to help.”

As an extra treat, PAWS, the Detroit Tigers Mascot, showed up to greet the people cruising in to make donations, Courtney says.

“We had hundreds of our Corvette friends from all over the U.S. and Canada stop to visit,” he says. “Our two Corvette friends from Sweden were here. Matick Chevrolet owner Karl Zimmermann and his wife, Sarah, stopped by with a donation to the food bank.”

In the end, Corvette owners and other cruisers donated $5,000 and a significant amount of nonperishable food. ”So, all in all, Corvettes on Woodward was a success,” Courtney says.

Larry had worked to arrange various tours of car-related companies and locations weeks in advance for Corvette owners. About 100 car enthusiasts came out for a private tour of GM's Heritage Center museum on Aug. 16.

On Thursday, Aug. 17, featured tours included the Lingenfelter Collection, Pratt & Miller Engineering and the Detroit Parade Co. On Friday, Aug. 18, cruisers toured Katech engine design in Clinton Township. 

Several out-of-state clubs visited this year and most stayed at the Somerset Inn in Troy. Clubs visited from Rochester, New York, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania and Columbus, Ohio. 

The group from New York also toured Frankenmuth and the Henry Ford Museum while here.

On Saturday, Aug. 19, the big Woodward Dream Cruise day, most everyone started to cruise Woodward Avenue before finding a place to park.
 

Matick Chevy Back to Bricks Corvette Reunion
More than 600 sports cars participated in the Back to the Bricks Corvette Reunion.

“Verna and I started Saturday with our early morning traditional cruise beginning in Ferndale, then up to Pontiac and returning to Ferndale. We cruised Woodward a little more before parking at 13 Mile Road to watch the rest of the cars go by,” says Courtney, who moved to the region in 2001 and saw his first Dream Cruise in 2002.

They spotted their favorite cars, a vehicle that shoots flames and another that is modified into the shape of a skull.

Back To The Bricks

After lunch, the Courtneys headed up Woodward Avenue and drove to Flint for the big 13th Annual Back to the Bricks car show, where champion driver Kellermeyer displayed his Corvette racecars.

This big event “was once again a hit,” Kellermeyer says.

The Flint show attracts more than 500,000 enthusiasts, he says. “These car lovers were able to walk around and admire thousands of vehicles of every age and description.”

Matick Chevy Back to the Bricks overview of street scene
Downtown Flint transforms into a car lover's paradise during the annual Back to the Bricks.

Back to the Bricks organizers estimated 45,000 car owners came out, gathering as early as 2 a.m. in two staging areas in order to obtain the downtown spots.

This gigantic event celebrates the love of motor vehicles and Michigan’s historic role in the automotive industry.

Matick Chevy Danny Kellermeyer Back to the Bricks 2017
Danny Kellermeyer enjoys greeting show goers at his DJ Racing display at Back to the Bricks.

Visitors wander among thousands of street machines, restored cars, rat rods and street rods at the gigantic car show. Music, displays, food vendors and family-friendly activities added to the festive atmosphere.

“Flint is the birthplace of the Corvette, ‘America’s Sport Car,’ and proudly hosts a National Reunion for Corvette aficionados,” Kellermeyer says.

Matick Chevy Back to the Bricks Danny Kellermeyer and fans
Danny Kellermeyer spends some time with car show fans.

A show within a show, this year’s 8th annual Corvette Reunion was spectacular. More than 500 Corvettes gathered from various states and Canada. The Heritage Collection boasted a Corvette from each year of production.

Kellermeyer’s DJ Racing team was one of the key Corvette attractions, displaying two of the Matick Chevy/Corvette Central-sponsored racing Corvettes.

The team was located in a prime area next to the awards tent. Corvette owners and racing fans were able to get an up-close look at Kellermeyer’s championship C6 and new C7 Corvettes.

All were able to take home a signed Danny Kellermeyer poster. “I signed a lot of posters,” says Kellermeyer.

Matick Chevy Back to the Bricks Mike Oshust
Corvette owner Mike Oshust won best of show in the Corvette Reunion at Back to the Bricks.

“The kids are great and I love to see their faces and smiles as they sit in the race cars and get to see racing from a view they normally wouldn’t be able to see,” he says. “Even their parents get to understand what happens inside the cars.”

The day included a spectacular flyover by three WWII T6 fighter planes.

“The sight was amazing and our own GM Executive Vice President Mark Reuss was able to fly in one of the planes. Mark said afterward, ‘Today was a true life event for me. I flew in a WWII T6 over what was part of the arsenal of democracy, Flint, Michigan, where I started as a young engineer. It was emotional to say the least,’” Kellermeyer recounts of his conversation with Reuss.

“The Flint show was fantastic,” says Mike Oshust of Flint. “We enjoy all the shows.”

Lorie and Matt Bacon of Fenton say “it’s always a fun time at the Corvette Reunion.”

Matick Chevy Back to the Bricks Lorie Mat Bacon
 Lorie and Mat Bacon participated in the Corvette Reunion.

Donna and Scott Freimark of Holly called Back to the Bricks a “good show, and it’s good to see friends." First-timer Gary Hreben of Sterling Heights shares that he thought the event was “awesome.”

Private Cruise Parties

Alan Johnson, Matick Chevrolet performance vehicle manager, drove his Z51 Corvette to private Dream Cruise parties the night before.

“We had 100 cars at some of the parties. They were nice get-togethers,” he says.

Matick Chevy Woodward Dream Cruise PartiesThe Woodward Dream Cruises was a great time for car parties.

Johnson saw another Matick Chevy-sponsored racecar driver, John Heinricy, with his C7 at one of the gatherings where he also spotted several classes of Corvettes and Camaros along with Firebirds and Trans-Ams.

On Woodward Dream Cruise day, Johnson and his son, Cole, 6, drove his red C7 Corvette along Woodward Avenue from Jefferson Avenue in downtown Detroit about 30 miles north to Pontiac.

“It was my first time doing the whole route,” Johnson says. His son loves cars and “had a lot of fun and waved at all the people.”
 

Matick Chevy North oaks Corveets Club on Woodward tent
The North Oaks Corvette Club set up their front row cruise tent along Woodward Avenue in Birmingham.

The North Oaks Corvette Club comes together twice at the Woodward Dream Cruise each year.

On the Friday before Dream Cruise, the members tailgate in front of the Birmingham Walgreens and return to the same spot on Dream Cruise day. “We had 40 cars,” says Skip Hartlerode, club president.
 

Matick Chevy North Oaks Corvettes on Woodward 1
More than 40 North Oaks Corvette Club members displayed their cars at the Dream Cruise.

“We’ve done this every year for the last eight years,” he says. “On Saturday, we start at around 7 a.m. with members coming and going throughout the day. Almost all members drove their Corvettes.”

Gary Drago, Flint Corvette Club president, headed up this year’s Corvette Reunion in Flint. “We had a fabulous time,” he says. He drove his 2004 Corvette. (Matick Chevy sponsors the North Oaks and Flint Corvette clubs.)

He described the thousands of cars parked along a mile route of the Corvette Reunion. “You probably won’t see this in any other place in the country. Tens of thousands of people come to this event.”

Matick Chevy Back to the Bricks people scene
Huge crowds fill the streets at Back to the Bricks in Flint.

He estimates about 600 Corvettes were on display for the reunion.

“I saw hundreds of cars that took my breath away,” Drago says, and the event is “very well organized. They make it pleasant to see the cars.

“All the Corvettes are in one place,” Drago adds. “It gets better and better every year.”

Matick Chevy Back to Bricks Danny Kellermeyere display
Danny Kellermeyer's DJ Racing display at Back to the Bricks.Matick Chevy Back to the Bricks Celeste Eric Morphis
First-time Back to the Bricks participants Celeste and Eric Morphis called the show "awesome."
Matick Chevy Back to the Bricks Gary Hreben
This year was the first time Gary Hreben drove in the Corvette Reunion.Matick Chevy Back to the Bricks Mitch Swanson
Mitch Swanson is a regular at the annual Back to the Bricks show.Matick Chevy Back to the Bricks Phillip Loving
Phillip Loving can't wait for next year's Flint car extravaganza.Matick Chevy Back to the Bricks Scott Donna Freimark
Scott and Donna Freimark love seeing old friends at the car show.Matick Chevy Woodward Dream Cruise Displays North Oaks Corvette Club
North Oaks Corvette Club members viewed the car exhibits in downtown Birmingham during Woodward Dream Cruise.
 

Photos by Charles Ruggles Photography, North Oaks Corvette Club, and DJ Racing.

Posted August 30, 2017

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‘Corvettes on Woodward’ Cancelled, Yet Organizer Continues Tradition Of Donating To Food Pantry And Hosting Various Car-Related Tours

Corvettes on Woodward Larry Courtney
Hundreds of Corvette owners attend Corvettes on Woodward every year.

METRO DETROIT — Organizers are alerting Vette owners that this year’s planned Aug. 16 Corvettes on Woodward car cruise, held in advance of the legendary Woodward Dream Cruise, has been cancelled.

But the annual food and funds donation drive associated with the event to benefit the Royal Oak’s Open Hands Food Pantry will still occur, says organizer Larry Courtney.

Last year, the event raised more than $6,000 to help feed the hungry.

Courtney declined to discuss a reason for the late cancellation of the event that was scheduled for the M1 Concourse.

In the past, the annual event has attracted hundreds of Corvette owners in advance of owners driving en masse down Woodward Avenue to deliver donations to the pantry. The Corvette gatherings in previous years were held at a Bloomfield Township hotel and last year was moved to a large lot in Pontiac, north of Detroit.

The food and funds donations will still take place, at the Open Hands Food Pantry located at the northeast corner of 11 Mile and Woodward Avenue behind St. John’s Church in Royal Oak. Enter the parking lot from 11 Mile.

“My wife, Verna, and I will be there between 2-9 p.m. Aug. 16 collecting nonperishable food and monetary donations,” says Larry, who drives the Matick Chevrolet flag-wrapped Corvette. “Signs will direct people.”

The Dream Center of Pontiac also is slated to receive some of the donations, says Larry.

Anyone who wants to volunteer to help with the food drive on Aug. 16 is asked to contact Larry Courtney at michigancorvetteevents@gmail.com or call 586-876-6923.

Pre-Dream Cruise Tours

Corvette owners who want to get involved with other events organized by Larry Courtney leading up to the Woodward Dream Cruise on Aug. 19 can check with him to learn more about these annual tours to local automotive-related venues in the metro Detroit area.

  • This year, starting at 10 a.m. on Wednesday, Aug. 16, guests can visit the GM Heritage Center, the automotive company’s private car museum near the GM Tech Center. Cost is $10.
  • At 9:30 a.m. and 1:30 p.m. on Thursday, Aug. 17, guests can tour the Pratt Miller Racing motorsports operation in New Hudson, Mich.  At 10 a.m., Corvette owners can cruise over to the Brighton, Mich.-based Lingenfelter Collection, featuring 250 Corvettes, muscle cars and exotics. prattmiller.com thelingenfeltercollection.com
  • Courtney also invites guests to the Parade Company in Detroit at 2 p.m. on Thursday, Aug. 17 “to see how the Michigan Thanksgiving Day Parade floats are made,” he says.
  • At 10 a.m. on Friday, Aug. 18, drivers will gather at Webber’s Wildlife Museum in Chesterfield Township, Mich.

Corvette owners are invited to stay at the Auburn Hills Marriott. “Each night, from Thursday through Saturday from 7-11 p.m., we will have a party with a DJ, food and lots of cars,” says Courtney.

Courtney gets plenty of feedback from all his efforts. “People thank us for a great time and that is humbling. We have friends come from Sweden and Brazil who tell us they are thrilled to be here,” he says.

“We get the thank-you cards and emails asking about next year,” says Courtney.

Along with the news articles about the event and TV coverage, Courtney says, “How can you sum up all that emotion? Verna and I are thankful and blessed. We have a great group of friends who help us take care of our charities. Friends and sponsors, such as Matick Chevy, help at our events.

“And me? I’m the luckiest guy in the world.”

Contact Larry Courtney at michigancorvetteevents@gmail.com or 586-876-6923.

Posted Aug. 8, 2017

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Corvette Owners Share Stories About Their Favorite Sports Car At ‘Corvette Generations’ Show

North Oaks Club Corvette Generations Car Show Matick Chevy 1
North Oaks Corvette Club.  

If you love listening to sports car stories, then the annual Corvette Generations Car Show is a great one to attend and talk with 'Vette owners. We heard all kinds of tales, from their first-time Corvette purchases to how they restored some classic beauties.

Sponsored by the North Oaks Corvette Club, Matick Chevrolet and Culver’s, this summer’s event showcased 60 sleek Corvettes July 22 at Culver’s in Lake Orion.

The midsummer show, traditionally held in downtown Birmingham, relocated to Culver’s while construction took place in Birmingham. (See the 2016 show here.)

North Oaks Club Corvette Generations Car Show Matick Chevy 2
“Just say the cars’ waxes were tested today,” joked George Garza about the rain during the North Oaks Club Corvette Generations show.

Show co-chairperson Skip Hartlerode surveyed the number of Corvettes that came out to the show this year, despite rain in the morning and the change of venues.

“We’re pleased with what we have here,” said Hartlerode, who displayed his 2005 Sunset Orange 'Vette he’s nicknamed the Evil Pumpkin. “We have great door prizes, great trophies. Our North Oaks club cars here number 25.”

Drivers took shelter under tents during the first half of the show as rain fell on the parked Corvettes.

“Just say the cars’ waxes were tested today,” joked George Garza.

Rod Grimes of Clinton Township pulled up in his 2003 50th anniversary C5. “It’s my first Corvette,” said the retired Detroit Police officer.

He wanted a Corvette back when he first joined the force in 1978. “But I got married and had a baby,” he said.

Grimes, a member of the Competition Corvette Club of Michigan based in metro Detroit, finally retired and was able to buy that Corvette.

The striking car, a burgundy called Anniversary Red, has become the car Grimes drives to car shows.

“I bought a 2017 Grand Sport and that’s my ‘play’ car,” he said.

North Oaks Club Corvette Generations Car Show Matick Chevy 3
Rod Grimes has a special photo under the engine lid of  his 2003 50th anniversary C5.

He has placed a photo of himself under the hood, and keeps an airbrushed photo of him and the car under the trunk lid. The word, “Sirdeli,” appears on the trunk drawing.

“It’s part of my email address and means ‘So I remember don’t ever lose it,’” he laughed.

People often compliment him on his car. “They say it’s so classy,” he said.

Crystal and Al Andrews of Detroit brought their 2002 Corvette, which they purchased in 2012.

“It’s my husband’s dream car,” said Crystal, standing next to the Electron Blue convertible with a distinctive tan stripe. “He’s wanted a Corvette since he was in high school.”

Asked what she likes about the car, Crystal said, “Everything. The speed, the unique color. We do a lot of shows. We try to do a show every weekend.”

North Oaks Club Corvette Generations Car Show Matick Chevy 4
Car enthusiasts loved looking under the hoods of the Corvettes on display.

Ray and Sue Miller of Farmington Hills sold T-shirts to attendees. They own two Corvettes, a 1959 and a 2017 Z06. Helping them out were their dogs, Mandy, a Yorkshire terrier, and Rudy, a Maltese and Yorkshire terrier combination.

Dan Monaghan of Lake Orion, a member of the North Oaks Corvette Club for nearly eight years, drove his 2012 red Grand Sport.

“I’ve been helping with the parking and with door prizes,” said Monaghan.

He and his wife, Gloria, also come to Culver’s for classic car night on Tuesdays in the summer. The Matick Chevrolet-sponsored North Oak Corvette Club gathers at the restaurant on Fridays in the summer.

Dan, a retired electrical engineer, loves his Corvette convertible for its “standout” looks.

“We do a lot with the (North Oaks) club,” he said.

Gloria doesn’t drive the car much. “I’m afraid if something happened,” she said while looking around at the club members, each wearing a neon green club shirt. “They’re very protective of their ‘sweethearts,’” she said, laughing.

Heather Pascoe of Oxford and her husband, David, drove their 2015 Crystal Red Corvette to the show.

Heather, the North Oaks club treasurer and a retiree, was busy selling fundraiser tickets to attendees.

“I like our car’s styling and comfort,” she said.

The club, she said, is the ‘nicest group of people, down to earth and we thoroughly enjoy their company.”

North Oaks Club Corvette Generations Car Show Matick Chevy 5
Richard Pinke displayed his rare 1958 Panama Yellow C1 Corvette.

Sitting under a lemon-yellow umbrella, Richard Pinke of Allen Park kept an eye on his rare, all-original 1958 Panama Yellow C1 Corvette.

“Every month, Chevrolet writes me a letter asking me to sell it to them,” he said. “They want it back in the worst way.” But he’s not selling.

His father bought him the car new for just over $3,500 when Richard was 22 in 1958.

He took a job with Cadillac after he finished college. “I made $315 a month, big money,” he said.

The award-winning Corvette, which has both a hard and soft top, has only 30,000 miles on it.

“I keep it in the garage between Halloween and mid-May,” said Pinke, now retired. He plans to give the car one day to his daughter, Kimberley.

Pinke said only 224 Corvettes were built in Panama Yellow.

North Oaks Club Corvette Generations Car Show Matick Chevy 6
Pete Shilland loves his super-charged Callaway Corvette.

Pete Shilland of Commerce Township likes to show people the name on his 2009 Crystal Red Metallic Callaway Corvette’s license plate.

“When I bought it the salesman said, ‘What name do you want on the plate,’ and I didn’t want anything (referencing speeding) to get police attention so I said, ‘How about Pokey?’ That’s the opposite of what it is.”

Shilland, who owns Top Lube in Commerce, said he has pushed the 700-HP car to 180 mph along one area freeway. The super-charged Callaway Corvette is supposed to do 210 mph, he said. “It’s a racing-type Corvette.”

Ben D’Anna of Yale arrived in his red, white and blue 2004 C5 24-Hour LeMans Commemorative Edition Corvette.

“I’ve had it for four years,” he said. He once owned a 1994 Corvette but had to sell it because his son was heading off to college.

“My favorite is the 1966 Corvette,” he said.

North Oaks Club Corvette Generations Car Show Matick Chevy 7
Ben D’Anna shows off  his red, white and blue 2004 C5 24-Hour LeMans Commemorative Edition Corvette.

Retired from the pharmaceutical industry, D’Anna, who attached two U.S. flags to his car, likes going to car shows.  “I pick out one show a month,” he said.

Jim Fouts of Flint Township happily talked with passersby about his 1980 white Corvette. “I’m the only one who has ever driven it,” he said. “It’s just the way I bought it, except for new tires and a battery.”

Fouts retired from Chevrolet in 1980.  “I’d always loved Corvettes so this was my retirement present,” he said.

Fouts sang for Chevrolet and even toured with singer Dinah Shore, known for the famous “See the USA in your Chevrolet” jingle. “She was great,” he said.

When Texan Joe Denham came to the metro area to work with the Detroit Arsenal in the tank automotive division, he trailered his 1971 Corvette to town.  The car looked like no other, its exterior a bright green called “Synergy Green.”

“I painted it myself,” said Denham, who lives in Harker Heights. When he bought the car in 2006, it was just a shell and he went to work rehabilitating the Corvette.

North Oaks Club Corvette Generations Car Show Matick Chevy 8
Joe Denham painted his 1971 Corvette Synergy Green.

“Seventy-five percent of it was built off eBay (purchases),” he said.  “Either I do it myself or it doesn’t get done.”

Paul Lemieux of Oxford wound up with his 1959 white Corvette for a pretty low price. His brother bought it in 1960 and after he found another car in 1967, the brother sold it to Paul for a buck.

“It sat outside for a year,” he said. The 'Vette was his regular vehicle back in Lemieux’s younger years.

“I repainted it in 1980,” said the GM retiree.

“It’s kind of rare. I’ll be out driving (with his wife, Cheryl) and you don’t see them on the road anymore.”

He loves the North Oaks club. “It’s a small club and the people are fun to be with.”

North Oaks Club Corvette Generations Car Show Matick Chevy 9
Corvettes from all seven generations were on display at the annual show.

Show Trophy Winners

Many exhibitors drove home with a trophy for their Corvette Generations Car Show efforts. Listed below are the winners, city of residence and year of their Corvette. Those in first place are shown first, and then second place.

C1 Stock

  • Joe Feko, Troy, 1961; Harley Buchanan, Oxford, 1962

C1 Modified

  • Jack Driver, Commerce Township, 1960. No second place

C2 Stock

  • Gino Raffin, Rochester Hills, 1967; Tom and Bonnie Bailey, Oxford, 1964

C2 Modified

  • Andrew and Even Sulich, Birmingham, 1965. No second place

C3 Stock

  • Dick Molinare, Macomb, 1981; Ray Hoard, Grand Blanc, 1971

C3 Modified

  • Joe Denham, Harker Heights, Texas, 1971; Jim Schwab, Clinton Township, 1982

C4 Stock

  • Dale VanWormer, Vassar, 1996; Mark Mullin, Troy, 1993

C5 Stock

  • Crystal Andrews, Detroit, 2002; Ben D’Anna, Yale, 2004

C5 Modified

  • Jim Kaleto, West Bloomfield, 2002; Bob McGhee, Commerce Township, 2000

C6 Stock

  • Mitchell Sparks, West Bloomfield, 2007; Daniel Watts, Novi, 2005

C6 Modified

  • Tim Mayer, Utica, 2005; Skip Hartlerode, Macomb, 2005

C7 Stock

  • Tony Allison, Shelby Township, 20014; Bill Theurer, Plymouth, 2016

C7 Modified

  • Chuck Harmon, White Lake, 2016; Fred Andalora, Clarkston, 2015

Matick’s Chevy Choice Award

  • Gino Raffin, Rochester Hills, 1967

Culver’s Choice Award

  • Joe Denham, Harker Heights, Texas, 1971

Best of Show Award

  • Jim Mayer, Utica, 2005

North Oaks Club Corvette Generations Car Show Matick Chevy 13
One of the show's overall awards. 
 
 
 
North Oaks Club Corvette Generations Car Show Matick Chevy 10
Rain didn't dampen the spirits of those attending this year's fifth annual North Oaks Club Corvette Generations Car Show. 
North Oaks Club Corvette Generations Car Show Matick Chevy 11
Love that plate!
North Oaks Club Corvette Generations Car Show Matick Chevy 12
Exhibitors began lining up for this year's North Oaks Club Corvette Generations Car Show, which temporarily moved to Lake Orion this summer while construction was being completed in downtown Birmingham, the show's home site.

Photography by Robert Brodbeck

Posted July 26,2017

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Q&A: Behind The Wheel With Pro Racing Champion John Heinricy

Matick Chevy John Heinricy Sonic 2016 Winner
John Heinricy and his Sonic. 

Racecar driver John Heinricy is keeping busy this season racing two vehicles, teaching amateur drivers to maneuver their way around racetracks, and setting fastest times when he gets behind the wheel. 

Heinricy of Clarkston, Mich. drives a 2002 Camaro in the A Sedan series and the white 2012 Matick Chevy-sponsored Sonic in the B Spec series.

He has scored so well in early competition that he is qualified to race his Matick Sonic in the SCCA National Championship Runoffs in Indianapolis Sept. 25-Oct. 1.

His racing resume includes five national championships in A Sedan, nabbed between 2003-14, and one in B Spec in 2015. Add to that seven other national championships in Corvette and Cobalt racing.

“I have a lot to be proud of,” says Heinricy.

 
High Performance Driving Event Matick Chevy 2
Corvette pro John Heinricy enjoys taking others out onto the National Corvette Museum's track in his C7 during high-performance driving events sponsored by Matick Chevrolet.

Our Corvette Blog reporters caught up with John Heinricy between racing weekends to talk about what's happening this summer.

Corvette Blog: How were your early races this season?

John Heinricy: On May 13-14, I went to Pittsburgh International Race Complex and ran second in the Matick Chevy Sonic on Saturday and came in first on Sunday.

In Pittsburgh in the Camaro, on the first day the steering rack broke and we were unable to repair it, and I didn’t (race) it.

On May 27-28, I went to Pocono Raceway in New York and won both races with the Matick Chevy-sponsored Sonic. That’s pretty good! At Pocono, we had some mechanical issues with the Camaro, but I was able to come in fourth on Saturday and second on Sunday – a respectable finish.

At Gingerman Raceway in South Haven, Mich. on July 8-9, I only ran the Matick Sonic. I came in first on Saturday and second on Sunday.

CB: Talk about the difference in the two styles of racing for you.

JH: In the A Sedan group, it’s Camaros and Mustangs. I did see an early 2000 Cadillac CTSV or two running.

This is like old school racing, cars with older V8 engines with carburetors. (The rules) don’t allow anti-lock brakes or traction control. They run relatively small tires and brakes – and don’t corner or stop very well.

There is a lot of challenge driving them fast. They do have more than 400 HP. They’re tough to drive in dry weather or rain because of the balance they have, meaning they have a lot of power but not much brakes or tires.

There is plenty of competition and a lot of different people, including women. That kind of racing appeals to me.

The B Spec (Sonic) has 100 HP, hardly any power. You have to change your thinking – the car is smaller, lighter and has front-wheel drive. It’s a whole different technique.

At Pocono, I got right out of one car and into the other. It would be nice to have some time to settle down.

CB: What else is on your summer racing schedule?

JH: I recently went to Waterford Hills Road Course with the Sonic for about 20 laps on open test day. This weekend (July 22-23) I’ll be at New Jersey Motorsports Park. I need one more A Sedan race for the runoffs, and I may go to Grattan Racetrack on Aug. 12-13 with the Sonic for extra practice and testing.

 

CB: Do you have a favorite track?

JH: I favor ones that are like winding country roads like Watkins Glen, Road Atlanta, Road America in Wisconsin and Mid-Ohio. Waterford Hills is a fun local track and close to me.

John Heinricy Matick Chevy Mobil Oil
John Heinricy and his Matick Chevy-sponsored Sonic were featured in Mobil Oil racing ads.
 

CB: Any activity this year with high-performance driving events (HPDE) and Autocross?

JH: I have a 2017 Corvette Grand Sport I purchased at Matick Chevy and have done HPDEs (with my car) at the National Corvette Museum in Bowling Green, Ky. and another at Virginia International Raceway in Alton, Va.

Alan Johnson, Matick Chevy Performance vehicle manager, went to both with me.

As in the past, Matick Chevy, a top Corvette dealer in Michigan, donated six hot laps with me. That typically costs drivers $150. Instead Matick Chevy has donated the money to the museum.

It’s quite popular, with 100-200 people at both events. Besides driving my car, I drive participants’ cars and give them pointers on how to drive the course.

These are more road racing drivers, ages 30s to 70s, on nice big country-road racetracks. The cars there are mostly Corvettes but there are a few Camaros, Porches and Mustangs.

I plan to do one more HPDE at Bowling Green in conjunction with the Corvette Museum’s 23rd anniversary and Hall of Fame inductions

It will a particularly good weekend to be there because (friends) Jim Minneker of Rochester Hills, a GM engineer, and Tommy Morrison, a Corvette racing legend, will be inducted. (John was inducted in 2015.)

CB: And Autocross?

JH: Because my schedule has been so busy, I’ve only been at one Corvette Club of Michigan Autocross at Schoolcraft College in June.

Matick Chevy’s Alan Johnson let me drive his 2015 Stingray and I set the fastest time of the day. I did get my Grand Sport out on July 4 for time trials at Waterford Hills and set the fastest time of the day there for one lap.

CB: Sounds like there’s so much on your schedule.

JH: It’s been a busy summer but I’m enjoying it and trying to fit everything in. We just had another grandson born this past year so now we have seven – ages 9 months to 11 years.

CB: You work closely with Matick Chevrolet in metro Detroit as a sponsor, too.

JH: We set a lot of goals that are being achieved and I’m pleased that has been successful. We’ve worked to improve the Corvette business. Sales of Corvettes have gone up dramatically. We are working to make Matick Chevy known as a high performance car and truck dealer, not only in sales but also in service.

Drivers in autocross are getting setups done at Matick Chevy. Having Alan Johnson there on staff with his car-guy personality and performance knowledge has helped a lot. The dealership has changed to make it more satisfying for the customers.

Published July 21, 2017

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Huge Corvette Generations Car Show Moves Temporarily To New Location

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Metro Detroit's Fifth Annual Corvette Generations Car Show is changing things up this year. 

Due to a major construction project in downtown Birmingham, Mich. — the Corvette Generations Car Show’s normal location — this year's gathering of beautiful Corvettes will be held at Culver’s of Lake Orion this summer. The club expects to be back in Birmingham for 2018.

Sponsored by the North Oaks Corvette Club, Matick Chevrolet and Culver’s, the show — at Lapeer and Dutton roads about 18 miles north of Birmingham — will be open to the public Saturday, July 22. The show runs 9 a.m. to around 5 p.m. with an awards presentation in the afternoon.

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Trophies will be awarded in many categories.

Advance registration for show Corvettes is $25. Day-of registration, space permitting, is $35. The event is held rain or shine. See the post about last year's Corvette Generations Car Show here.

“New location, same great show,” says Skip Hartlerode, the NOCC show chairman. 

“We’re excited to work with Culver’s of Lake Orion and Matick Chevrolet, which sponsors our club, to bring everyone this year’s Corvette Generations. We are expecting a record turnout, with owners showcasing Corvettes from every corner of the state.

“With DJ Billy D spinning your favorite cruising tunes, prizes, food discounts and lots of trophies, it should be legendary,” says Hartlerode.

"Everyone also will have a chance to sample Culver's great food and delicious frozen custard treats," says Hartlerode.

Plenty of public parking spaces will be available at the show, now in its fifth year, but good spots will fill up fast. So come early, says the show chairman.

An event  flyer and registration form with all the information needed to jump on board is available on the North Oaks club's website here.

For more details on this year's show, call Skip Hartlerode at 586-719-0660, or email him at cgchairman@comcast.net.

Posted June 16, 2017

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‘It’s Like We’re In Another World’ Say Matick Chevy Corvette Caravan Fans About Their Belle Isle Grand Prix Fun

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They’re off to the Detroit Grand Prix with the Matick Chevy Corvette Caravan. The sixth annual event drew more than 125 Corvette owners for a day packed with a starter’s breakfast, Corvette camaraderie, racing fun and more.  

Corvette owners and their passengers packed the big showroom at Matick Chevrolet in Redford Township on June 3 for Matick’s sixth annual Chevrolet Detroit Belle Isle Grand Prix Corvette Caravan Experience.

The more than 250 attendees arrived at the dealership, picked up their special discounted Corvette Corral tickets for Belle Isle race day and enjoyed a hearty breakfast, courtesy of Matick Chevy, a 2016 Chevy Dealer of the Year. Some had set the alarm as early as 4:30 a.m. in order to make it in time to join the early-morning caravan's 20-mile trek to Detroit.

Darryl Thomas of Detroit walked into the Matick showroom around 7 a.m. with date Lamerra Hobbs of Ferndale.

A Plante & Moran employee, Lamerra says this was her first time attending.

Darryl, a retired building engineer, was a veteran of Matick’s Corvette Caravan Experience, attending all but one of the six annual events. “ I like the Corvette camaraderie,” he says.

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Matick Chevy Sales Director Paul Zimmermann shared details of the day with the more than 250 people attending the Grand Prix Corvette Caravan bash.

Muhammad Abdur-Rahman, a contractor from Flint, arrived in his 1999 black Corvette. He purchased his Corvette beauty on eBay from a seller in Chicago. "It was shipped to me,” he says. “I was up all night waiting for it.”

Muhammad ordered the car last year.

“It’s comfortable for a sports car,” he says. “Sounds good, looks good.”
He was ready to get the day started. “I’m here to experience everything,” he says.

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Matick Chevy Grand Prix Corvette Caravan guests enjoyed their starter's breakfast spread.

Ericka Kocian had just finished breakfast with her father, Gary Kocian, both of Redford.

Gary lives a block away from the dealership at Telegraph Road & I-96, and grew up in the neighborhood.

A barber by trade, he admitted to always having a thing for Corvettes. “I’ve been into cars my whole life.” He showed photographs of his five special classic cars, including an award-winning 1968 AMC AMX muscle car.

Ericka, who works for 1-800-4Blinds as a customer service representative in Southfield, says her father is “always working on a car.”

Maybe being a car buff runs in the family? Ericka looked over at the new Corvettes on display in the showroom and dropped a hint. “I like that gray one with the blue stripe,” she shared.

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Many said the Corvette Caravan Experience was a great way to meet new friends.

Canada was well represented at the event. A dozen members of the Windsor Corvette Club signed up for the caravan.

Dave Hitchcock, a retired Chevy dealer, drove to Redford in a 2014 yellow Corvette convertible with his daughter, Jessica.

“I always had Corvettes,” he says. “The one before this was orange.”

He reminisced about driving across the U.S. in his ‘Vette on Route 66 in 2013 over 28 days. “We met people from all over the world,” Dave recalls.

Jessica didn’t make that journey, but was looking forward to going to Belle Isle.
“It’s a day with dad,” she says.

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What a great event at which to check out more than 125 Corvettes, all lined up and ready to caravan to the Belle Isle Grand Prix.

Ed Jones from Windsor, and a friend of the Hitchcocks, tucked his 2014 Laguna Blue Corvette convertible, his sixth Corvette, into the dealership parking lot lined with 125 other Corvettes.

The Windsor club’s event coordinator, Ed has been to Belle Isle several times, but this was his first venture out with the Matick caravan.

Ed brought his son, Derek Jones, who works as an information technology director.

The Canadians got up at 4:30 a.m.to make sure they had time to get through customs.

Ed says: “This (caravan) is really neat. We all have a common interest, common bond. It’s fun to get together.”

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Sure thing! It's one of the original Daytona 500 Corvette Pace Cars.

Retiree Mary Sagat, wearing a shirt with the words, Indy 500, in sparkly lettering, sat with the Windsor group next to her husband, Steve. The couple owns the actual 2008 Corvette Indy Pace Car.

Mary explained the Sagats were on a mission to get more Grand Prix drivers to sign the car’s fuel rail cover. “I’m excited,” she says.

Windsor residents Gary McGuinness, an OEM sales representative, and his wife, and Jenny McGuinness, a school board employee, own the actual black-and-silver 1978 Indy Pace Car.

“It’s been in the family since it was bought new in Ypsilanti,” Gary says.

Jenny notes, “You take care of things and they last.”

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The Matick Chevy Grand Prix Corvette Caravan was a neat way to catch up with old friends.

Janice Payne, a court reporter, and her husband, Roy, of Southfield, drove their gunmetal gray 2016 Z06 Corvette to Matick Chevy.

This Corvette-loving couple is on their fourth ‘Vette.

“Corvettes are exciting to drive. I love the car,” Janice says.

“When we caravan, it’s like we’re in another world. I feel like I’m in a special group.”

Fred Edwards of Farmington, who drives a black 2014 C7, was on a date with Arnita Murray of Detroit.

The retired GM designer acquired his first Corvette in 1991.

He said he is drawn to the car not only for its performance, but because the styling is great, “especially now. It has a futuristic reach,” he says.

Lucille Thomas of Southfield was wearing her black “Vette Girl” T-shirt.

Her husband, Dennis, drives a 2014 black Stingray convertible.

“I like the people,” says Dennis, of the crowd. “There is no difference where you come from (among Corvette lovers).”

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Matick Chevy-sponsored Corvette racecar driver Danny Kellermeyer and Matick Dealer Karl Zimmermann discuss Danny's upcoming racing schedule.

Matick Chevy had several key managers at the event, including GM Molly Williams, Sales Director Paul Zimmermann and Dealer Karl Zimmermann.

“This gathering is a wonderful opportunity to share fellowship with amazing friends. In the Corvette, we have GM’s most technologically advanced product,” says Karl Zimmermann, the 2014, 2015 and 2016 Chevy Dealer of the Year.

“This caravan allows Matick to connect with community, car culture, our employees and customers.”

Over at an all-male table, Jim Hagglund of Brighton was sitting with his nephew, Dave Pohlod. Pohlod of Livonia was Hagglund’s passenger.

Hagglund drives a black 2003 Z06 Corvette. “All totally original,” he says.
“I’ve always been into cars.”

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Corvette photos tell a thousand words!

Women also arrived together with friends. As Matick employees requested people head out to their vehicles, Connie Esposito of Fenton – a member of the Flint Corvette Club – moved quickly through the crowd.

“I brought my friend Marilyn Epps,” says Connie, who drove her 2002 silver Z06.

Gary Kramer of Shelby Township and his brother, Jeff Kramer, of Macomb Township, were among the guests.

Both own Corvettes: Gary drives a 2001 red Corvette and Jeff, a 1993 ruby red Corvette.

Gary was teamed up with his friend, Dave Taylor, of Washington. Jeff invited his pal, Dave Corbin, of Sterling Heights.

“It’s fun getting together with friends and meeting new people,” says Jeff.

Gary agreed. “This is a nice relaxed event, the food is awesome and people friendly. Well put together.”

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More than 125 Corvettes are on their way to the Detroit Grand Prix with the Matick Chevy Corvette Carava
 
 

Enjoy this Detroit Grand Prix Corvette Caravan Photo Gallery!

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Matick Chevy Grand Prix Corvette Caravan drivers ready to enter I-96 for a "fast ride" to Detroit's Belle Isle.
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A Corvette Caravan participant checks out the performance inventory in Matick Chevy's huge indoor showroom.
 
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The registration desk was busy during the Matick Chevy Grand Prix Corvette Caravan.

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Staff from Lingenfelter was on hand to help Team Matick employees during registration. 

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Team Matick employees who worked the Corvette Caravan Experience look forward to seeing their Corvette friends again next year.
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C5 Corvette Pace Car Donation Kicks Off Waterford Hills Racing Season

Matick Chevy Danny Kellermeyer Pace Car Dedication
This new C5 Corvette pace car made its debut May 6 at Waterford Hills Road Course with (left to right) Matick Chevy-sponsored racecar driver Danny Kellermeyer, Matick Chevy Performance Vehicle Manager Alan Johnson, AES Auto Parts & Sales owners Twymen and Rachel Burrough, and Matick Chevy GM Molly Williams.

Corvette Racecar Driver Danny Kellermeyer celebrated a double treat at the beginning of the 2017 racing season.

First Treat: Stiff winds didn’t stop the veteran Matick Chevy-sponsored racer from maneuvering his 2008 Millennium Yellow C6 Corvette out in front of competitors three times over the May 6-7 race weekend at Michigan's Waterford Hills Road Course (WHRC).

Kellermeyer won two class races – one on Saturday afternoon and the other Sunday morning – and capped that off by taking the feature race Sunday afternoon at the 1.42-mile road course.

“It was a good weekend,” said Kellermeyer of Ortonville, Mich., winner of the 2016 SCCA Great Lakes Division T-1 Championship and Waterford Hills T-1 Championship.

“It was very close in all three races with different competitors. On the track the lead drivers were so close," says Kellermeyer of DJ Racing, “you could have thrown a blanket over us.”

Pace Car Unveiled

Second Treat: Drivers gathered around a striking new C5 Corvette pace car greeted the unveiling with applause and whistles at Waterford Hills Road Course May 6.

The shiny magnetic red beauty came about as a group effort by several businesses, including Matick Chevrolet of metro Detroit, AES Auto & Part Sales, SKF Racing, Hawk Performance and Whelan Automotive.

The car -- a replica of the Corvette 50th anniversary pace car used at the Indy 500 in 2003 -- replaces a 20-year-old Miata that will now serve as the track’s backup pace car.

Matick Chevy Danny Kellermeyer WHRR Pace Car
Matick Chevy-sponsored racecar driver Danny Kellermeyer at the wheel inside the new Waterford Hills Road Course pace car.

Matick Chevy Performance Vehicle Manager Alan Johnson said the Matick Chevy team went through the car’s brakes and fluids and also cleaned the car.

Matick Chevy GM Molly Williams said, “We’re proud to be donating something will last for years to come – and we love working with Danny and the team at Waterford Hills.”

AES Auto & Part Sales of Romulus, owned by Twymen and Rachel Burrough, provided several parts donations.

“It’s exciting for us to get this car, exciting to see the sponsorship and support,” says Bruce MacDonald, WHRRI director of racing.

MacDonald said the donation comes as the track readies plans for its 60th anniversary in 2018.

Jerry Shiloff, WHRRI chief steward and Waterford track regular for the past 49 years, called the new Corvette a “fine addition” to the track.

“With next year being the 60th at the track, the pace car kicked off all the excitement,” said champion racecar driver Kellermeyer.

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Racer Kellermeyer Unveils His Newest Custom-Built C7 Corvette

Danny Kellermeyer Matick Chevy C7 Corvette
Danny Kellermeyer introduced his new C7 to members of the Flint Corvette Club, who visited his garage for DJ Racing’s annual Daytona 500 watch party.  

Matick Chevy-sponsored racecar driver Danny Kellermeyer heads into the upcoming 2017 racing season as last season’s T-1 Corvette racing champion – and as the owner/creator of a new Matick Chevy C7 Corvette Stingray.

“I built this one ground up from a bare frame,” says Kellermeyer, winner of the SCCA Great Lakes Division T-1 Championship and Waterford Hills T-1 Championship.

Cold-weather months are busier for Kellermeyer, of Ortonville, Mich., than many might assume. “That’s because we’re prepping and building race cars,” he says.

The other four cars in his fleet also are Kellermeyer creations.

Danny Kellermeyer Matick Chevy Racecar Driver
Danny Kellermeyer

He admits that after a long winter, he’s itching to get out onto the racetracks. This spring, he tested the new C7 after rains washed all the road salt off the highways. “I’m just fussy enough that I don’t take trailers out in the salt,” he says.

Races begin May 6-7 at Waterford Hills Road Course in metro Detroit, and Kellermeyer expects to take part in 22 races at tracks in Michigan, Ohio and Indiana. Fans can follow his progress at djrace.com.

Kellermeyer’s other Corvette cars, which he also built, are primed to hit the track.

He owns two C6s – a yellow 2008 and a silver 2011.

His C5 – one of only 42 GM kit cars constructed in 1999 – is his backup racecar.

The oldest in the garage, a C4 built in 1988, runs once or twice a season in vintage class races.

The new C7 has advantages over the others – better weight distribution in the rear, and a GM Stage 3 Aero package that provides more downforce.

The racecar weighs 3,250 pounds and has 395 horsepower, plus its coefficient drag also is improved. “It’s a smoother car going through the wind,” he says.

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Danny Kellermeyer unveiled his new C7 Matick Chevrolet-sponsored racecar to the public at the Waterford Hills Road Racing display during the Third Annual Motor City Hot Rod and Racing Expo in Novi on March 25-26.

Three seasons ago, track officials decided Kellermeyer had to have a restrictor on his racecar engine to slow him up, mainly because he was always winning races.

In the new Matick Chevy-sponsored C7, the L56 motor allows him to have the largest restrictor and the lightest weight. “It makes Corvettes competitive with the cars we run against – Porches, BMWs and Vipers,” he says.

Kellermeyer, who also is lead instructor at Waterford Hills, has assigned the number 41 to the C7, and it’s painted yellow, as are most of his cars.

“Yellow is a good color, a happy color,” he says. “It shows up good on the track.”

Fans may wonder how he decides which car in the pack to race. It’s an easy answer for Kellermeyer: “The one I think I can win with.”

As he enters another season, he says racing cars never gets old. “I love the camaraderie at the track and the competition. But when you hit the track, the friendship falls by the wayside and you are all competitors,” he says.

Kellermeyer has been racing since he was 8 years old, when he’d slip away from the family farm in Jackson, Mich., to race go-karts at a nearby track. And he’s always been a winner on and off the track.

He recalls races where he lost the lead on the “last turn,” he says, “but we got out and I slapped the winner on the back and said, ‘Good race, but I’ll do better next time.’”

Matick Chevrolet Performance

DJ Racing

Posted April 29, 2017

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Discount Tickets, Starter’s Banquet And Corvette Camaraderie Highlight June 3 Belle Isle Grand Prix Caravan

It's time to RSVP!  

Only 100 tickets are available for Matick Chevrolet's exclusive Detroit Grand Prix celebration of fast cars and racing entertainment in Detroit on June 3. 

Corvette enthusiasts from around Michigan and beyond will first fuel up on that Saturday morning with a caravan starter’s breakfast buffet and hear Corvette presentations in Matick Chevrolet’s huge metro Detroit showroom.

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2017 Detroit Grand Prix Poster

The excitement will build as the Corvette owners and their guests cruise off for an action-packed day at the Chevrolet Detroit Grand Prix on Belle Isle, along the Detroit River in view of the city's skyline.

Instead of having to take a shuttle to the racetrack as most ticket holders do, Matick Chevy Caravan participants will park on the island in a special Corvette Corral located right next to the track.

Discounted caravan experience tickets — provided by Matick Chevy to each Corvette owner and one guest — also come with reserved Grandstand 2 seating overlooking the track’s exciting turns one and two across from the pits, paddock passes to the garages, lunch and refreshments throughout the day at Chevy’s hospitality tent on Belle Isle, and a chance to check out Chevy product displays. 

See the flyer below for more details.

RSVP Today

Contact Ryan Esler at resler@matickchevy.com or 313-532-2570.

Matick Grand Prix Caravan 2017 Flyer
Matick Grand Prix Caravan 2017 Flyer
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Driver John Heinricy Reflects On Challenging 2016 Season And Looks Forward To Competing In Florida

Matick Chevy John Heinricy Sonic 2016 Winner
 John Heinricy won several races during the 2016 season in his Sonic racecar.   

While it’s time for most Midwest racers to tuck their cars and gear into garages until the weather warms again, racecar driver John Heinricy will slide back behind the wheel of one of his racing vehicles next month in Florida.

He’s looking forward to improve on his race results from last season.

Heinricy, the 2015 B Spec champion, had a challenging 2016, he says, coming home with a bronze (third-place) in races with his Matick Chevy-sponsored Sonic and also with his 2002 Camaro in the SCCA National Championship Runoffs at the Mid-Ohio Raceway in September.

Heinricy, the hard-working Clarkston, Mich. resident, drove his Matick Chevy-sponsored Sonic, winning several races during the season, including two in June and two in New Jersey in July.

Because he was the 2015 Spec B champ, he had an automatic invitation to the 2016 national runoffs in his Sonic.

But, he notes, officials required that he have a restrictor placed on his engine this season. That was done, he says, to ensure one car doesn’t dominate the field.

In the September championship runoffs, Heinricy attempted a pass, but had “significant contact” with another driver during the first lap — a situation that delayed him for several seconds.

The leader driving a Honda Fit then gained a considerable lead on Heinricy.

“Although I was able to pass four other cars to get to second place, I was never able to recover that time and was penalized one spot back to third due to the first-lap contact,” he says.

“I had a chance of winning had it not been for that contact.”

Heinricy has relived the contact moment in his dreams.

“One incident like that can ruin your chances,” he says.

Matick Chevy mechanics handled repairs on his Sonic and he praises the team for its work.

John Heinricy Sonic Matick Chevy On Track
Racecar driver John Heinricy takes a turn in his Matick Chevy-sponsored Sonic.

Meanwhile, in Class A Sedan competition, some challenges arose from mechanical problems that cropped up at the beginning and end of the season with his Firebird and Camaro.

Heinricy won the May 14 race in his Class A Sedan Pontiac Firebird at the Pittsburgh International Race Complex, but during the second race, his throttle stuck open and he hit a tire wall.

“That took that car out of contention for the rest of the year,” he says.

Heinricy, who was driving for Tom Aquilante Racing of Pennsylvania, says the team built a 2002 Camaro to replace the Firebird.

Heinricy then focused on gaining points during the rest of the season to quality for the national runoffs.

“If we had waited for (the Firebird to be repaired), we wouldn't have had enough points to qualify,” he explains.

Starting over brings on its own set of trials.

“The changes often don’t come out of the way you want,” says Heinricy, “so you have to fix issues.”

He praises Aquilante’s daughters, Amy and Beth, for the work they put into the Camaro.

 “Working with the two daughters is interesting,” says Heinricy.

The women, in their late 20s, are “such hard workers. They know what to do and they know what needs to be done.”

Beth even loaned Heinricy a car to run at Gingerman Raceway in South Haven, Mich.

“It was great she did that,” Heinricy says.

In New Jersey races in July, he finished second and fourth. In Pittsburgh, he wrecked on a final lap but still received points.

Then at Mid-Ohio in the A Sedan runoffs in September, he was thwarted halfway through the 23-lap race by electrical problems that reduced RPM capacity. The end result was the third-place finish.

HEINRICY OFF THE TRACK

We tossed a few questions Heinricy’s way as he gears up for his Florida competition next month.

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John Heinricy

• Describe your personality.

I’m pretty driven; a Type A. It’s hard to relax.

• Do you think about the dangers of racing?

I do think about it in a pragmatic way in that I make sure my safety equipment is good and that the car construction is proper for the type of racing that I am doing. Once I am in the car racing, though, it rarely comes too mind.

• Who is your favorite race car driver, among all types of racing?

Dale Earnhardt, Sr. because he was a very aggressive driver but he was a racer from the time he was little. He did the work on his cars. Some younger people in racing have been helped by family and have had the road paved for them. Dale was working in the shop when he was a kid. (Earnhardt died racing in the Daytona 500 in 2001.)

• What's your 2016 proudest accomplishment?

Helping Alan Johnson, Matick Chevy Performance finance and sales manager, with his driving and C7 Corvette. He had had problems with his car’s handling. We were together at several high performance driving events and were able to figure out what was wrong, and together we improved his driving. He has gotten a lot better and he is the September Corvette Club of Michigan competition points champion. 

• What do you do when not racing in the off-season?

I spend time with my wife and seven grandkids, who are all boys. The oldest is 9. They all know I race and they come into my shop and want to climb into the racecars.

• You talked about doing some traveling. Where do you want to go?

My wife and I are looking at the northeast — Maine, New Hampshire and Newfoundland. We might be going to Europe to see areas we haven’t seen yet.

• We hear you enjoy remodeling houses. What’s going on?

We have three houses (in Clarkston) and they require a fair amount of maintenance because they are older homes from the 1950s. So I’ve spent a lot of spare time doing that work.

• What racing do you watch others do?

I am an avid Formula One fan, and watch most NASCAR and IndyCar racing, and sports car racing. It was great to see driver Nico Rosberg receive the F1 championship trophy last weekend.

• How do you keep fit?

I try hard to make up for getting older by keeping in shape. I’m usually racing against much younger drivers. I work out riding my bike several times a week, and I ride hard. I’ll ride until there is snow alongside the trail. When the weather turns, I switch to working in the gym at home. I look at the exercise as a different kind of challenge and I go do it and I look forward to it.

Read more about John Heinricy here.

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