MotorCities National Heritage Area
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October 19, 2023

MotorCities is pleased to announce the finalists for our 25th Anniversary Awards of Excellence:

In the Heritage Tourism category, the finalists are:

  • Lloyd & Judy Ganton, the operators of Ye Ole Carriage Shop in Spring Arbor;
  • Russell Brothers City Tours for their interactive tours of Detroit;
  • and Wheelhouse Detroit for their Detroit Auto Heritage Bicycle Tour.

In the Interpretation/Education category, the finalists are:

  • The Automotive Hall of Fame in Dearborn for their Achievement series of exhibits about African Americans in the automotive industry.
  • Russ Dore’ of Dore’ Productions in Northville for his interactive historical presentations that bring early automotive pioneers to life;
  • and the Historical Society of Greater Lansing for the I-496 Pave the Way Project.

In the Revitalization category, the finalists are:

  • The Ford Piquette Plant Museum in Detroit for their first floor restoration;
  • M1 Concourse in Pontiac for their work transforming a former General Motors industrial site into a road racing course and event space for auto enthusiasts;
  • and the Packard Proving Grounds in Shelby Township for their work preserving the site.      

The winners in each of these three categories will be announced at MotorCities' 25th Anniversary Gala on Wednesday, November 8 at Ford House.

Also, the recipient of MotorCities Milestone Award, which will also be presented at the Gala, is William R. "Bill" Chapin. Some Michigan natives can say that the auto industry is in their blood, but for Bill Chapin there is no denying the lineage from his Grandfather Roy Chapin Sr. (a co-founder of the Hudson Motor Co.), his father Roy Chapin Jr. (past CEO of American Motors) to forgin g his own legacy, mostly in automotive marketing. Bill was just finishing up work on the launch of the "Motor City" exhibit at the Detroit Historical Museum in the mid-1990s when he realized that the stories told there were relevant to today. Namely, the stories of industry leaders and rank and file workers were all there to inspire generations to come. Around the same time, he became aware of the efforts to create a National Heritage Area centered on the automotive and labor history of the region. Chapin was there when the bill was signed by President Clinton in 1998. He signed the articles of incorporation, served as board chair and continues as a member of MotorCities' Leadership Council. Finally, between 2010 and 2017, Chapin served as President of the Automotive Hall of Fame in Dearborn.

Tickets are still available for MotorCities’ 25th Anniversary Gala event, scheduled for Wednesday, November 8, 2023 from 5:30 – 9:30 p.m. at the Ford House Visitors Center, located at 1100 Lake Shore Road in Grosse Pointe Shores.

Guests will enjoy dinner, drinks, a silent auction, the opportunity to view exhibits and stroll the grounds, and more including the following:

  • Our keynote speaker Frank Markus of Motor Trend discussing “Trends Driving the Automotive Future”;
  • MotorCities’ annual Milestone Award winner Bill Chapin (see above);
  • The chance to meet and mingle with General Motors founder "Billy Durant," courtesy of Dore Productions;
  • The announcement of the 25th Anniversary Awards of Excellence (finalists listed above);
  • and a tribute to a quarter century of MotorCities’ achievements.

This celebration also marks the observance of MotorCities’ 10th annual Michigan Auto Heritage Day, with special recognition from Governor Gretchen Whitmer and the Michigan Legislature. 

Tickets for the Gala are $100 for MotorCities members and $125 for nonmembers. RSVPs are required by October 25, so reserve your place now by clicking the animated graphic above or at www.motorcities.org/25th-anniversary-events. Proceeds will help MotorCities continue to fulfill its mission of preserving and promoting Michigan auto and labor heritage.

Visit Detroit is the Presenting Sponsor for the Gala. General Motors is a Founding Partner/Award of Excellence Sponsor. The UAW International Union is our Michigan Auto Heritage Day Sponsor. Ford House is an Award of Excellence Sponsor. Supporting Sponsors include Albert Kahn AssociatesChoose LansingDestination Ann Arbor, and The Henry Ford. Event Sponsors include Doeren MayhewDon Nicholson EnterprisesGilmore Car MuseumGrigg Graphics, and Project Arts and Humanities.

The Automobile National Heritage Act was authored, co-sponsored and championed by former Congressman John Dingell and former Senator Carl Levin and signed by President Bill Clinton on November 6, 1998. The law created what is now known as the MotorCities National Heritage Area Partnership, one of 62 organizations that are part of the National Heritage Area System of the National Park Service. Its mission is to preserve, interpret and promote the region’s rich automotive and labor heritage while enabling, supporting and respecting its diversity, equity, inclusion and accessibility. Regional programs inspire residents and visitors with an appreciation for how the automobile changed Michigan, the nation, and the world.

Each year, MotorCities generates $489.7 million in economic impact, supporting 5,343 jobs and producing $40 million in tax revenue in Michigan. Over its 25-year history, MotorCities has awarded more than 300 grants for a total investment in local programs of more than $1.7 million.

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