MotorCities National Heritage Area logo

Summer, 2015

Like many non-profits, the MotorCities National Heritage Area Partnership relies on the passion of volunteers to help drive its mission and values.

One of those volunteers is Westland resident Tony Tocco who last year became involved with MotorCities, a non-profit organization dedicated to promoting and preserving auto and labor heritage in the region.

Tocco calls MotorCities the region’s “…best kept secret.”

“This is one of the best kept secrets I’ve ever heard of,” says Tocco as he staffed the MotorCities booth at this weekend’s Sloan Museum Auto Fair in Flint. “MotorCities has been around since 1998, and I just got into it last year. I wish I would have gotten involved when it started in 1998.

“To be able to go to these events and see these kinds of cars and people it’s just wonderful. It’s an honor to be here.”

Tocco’s love affair with the auto began at a young age when he built model cars. Now he says he owns “big cars,” and can’t get enough of the multitude of car shows and cruises strung together and promoted under the Autopalooza banner. Autopalooza was founded some years ago in a joint effort between the MotorCities and the Detroit Metro Convention and Visitor’s Bureau as a way to feature the region’s premier auto shows and cruises under a single brand.

In May, Tocco was able to fulfill a dream when he volunteered for the Belle Isle Grand Prix, one of 16 world-class auto events under the Autopalooza flag.

“Going to the Grand Prix for the first time, as we were on the bus getting over there, my heart started to pump when I heard the engines roaring,” says Tocco. “I thought this is it man, this is going to be quite an event and it was. It’s something I will remember for a long time.”

Through its Autopalooza partnership, challenge grants, the Michigan Auto Heritage Day and many more programs, MotorCities inspires residents and visitors with an appreciation for how the automobile changed Michigan, the nation, and the world.

MotorCities is an affiliate of the National Park Service and is one of 49 National Heritage Areas throughout the U.S. Projects are designed to deploy educational programs that tell the story of the American automobile industry and labor; encourage economic revitalization through conservation and preservation; and increase heritage tourism throughout the region.

Tocco says helping to promote auto and labor heritage in the region by volunteering his time is a source of pride.

“I love working with people and talking to them about cars and the auto heritage we have,” says Tocco. “It makes us feel proud of who we are and where we come from, and that we’re all part of this. We live in the Detroit metro area, and this is what it’s all about – automotive.”

For more on MotorCities, visit the website at, also visit the Facebook page at and follow them on Twitter/Instagram: @MotorCities.

For more on Autopalooza, visit the website at