Whenever Rob Mashigian sees a cool classic car or muscle car at a red light, he has to stare a little bit. Then he stares at the other drivers sitting at the intersection.
“I’ve been in the car with my wife and kids, and it can be an old Corvette, a brand-new Lamborghini, a T-bucket, and all of our heads are looking at the car,” Mashigian says. “Then I look at the other cars in the intersection, and I’m not kidding -- if it’s an old man, old lady, young, doesn’t matter what culture or ethnic background, everyone’s head is just watching that car. So guess what? Let’s create something like this.”
That “something” is Texas Dream Cruise, an event scheduled for noon to 5 p.m. June 29 at FC Dallas Stadium in Frisco, with a marked cruise route through the city’s streets. The idea is to bring in a lot of cool cars -- Mashigian and his partner, Rick Fletcher, are hoping for more than 1,000 (including Eleanor, one of the modified 1967 Shelby Mustang GT 500s from Gone in 60 Seconds) -- and a lot of spectators to gawk at them, whether they’re in the stadium or rolling in a loop on nearby streets.
The cruise will benefit more than a dozen charities, including the Boys & Girls Club of Collin County, CITY House and the North Texas Military Association. Admission is free; if you want to register a car, it’s $20. Mashigian and Fletcher stress that this is a family event, and there will be additional amusements and concessions aside from the cars: The Rumble Kings will provide live music, and there will be 70 booths featuring car parts, crafts, toys, children's activities, action rides, obstacle courses including rock climbing and a multi-story inflatable slide, and even a mechanical bull.
The inspiration for the cruise sounds a little like something out of American Graffiti, except not set in California.
“I was born and raised in Detroit,” says Mashigian, who came to DFW about 20 years ago. “My father worked for GM for 41 years, so I’ve always been a car fanatic. Up in Michigan, there’s a road called Woodward Avenue, [which was] the first paved highway in the country. Back in the day, people used to race light to light, or just cruise up the strip, up and down, in and out of drive-ins and hamburger joints, etc., showing off their cars.”
In the late ’90s, Michiganders trying to raise money for a children’s soccer field decided to organize the Woodward cruising into a fund-raiser, and created the Woodward Dream Cruise. Mashigian says that organizers were expecting 25,000 people to show up for the inaugural cruise. Ten times that many showed up. Now, Mashigian says, the cruise draws about 1.5 million people and more than 80,000 vehicles.
Mashigian says he has a 10-year goal of making Texas Dream Cruise the largest one-day event in Texas -- and in the Southwest -- with hopes to draw as many as 400,000 people. And you don’t have to have a classic or muscle car to participate (although the car should be cool; I don’t think my beat-up 2003 Civic would fit in).
“It can be anything,” Mashigian says. “It can be a 1920 vehicle, it can be a 2014. It can be a show car, original, custom, or it can be a daily driver. If it’s anything that might turn someone’s head, then you’re welcome to come and cruise with us.” Or, as the website puts it, the event welcomes all “classics, currents, coupes, convertibles and customs.”
Mashigian has been working on this for a couple of years, which is how Fletcher came aboard. Fletcher, who has a marketing background, was working on a board with Mashigian’s sister-in-law, who mentioned that Mashigian was looking for a way to raise money for the cruise, and for help to organize it and publicize it.
Fletcher, who is in his early 50s, says that he did car restoration in the late ’70s and early ’80s, but that he no longer considers himself a car guy in the way that Mashigian is. But he agreed to meet with Mashigian over coffee.
“I didn’t know much I could help him, but I mentioned my background, and 15 to 20 minutes into the conversation, he said, ‘Rick, you’re the guy I need to partner with and make this thing come together,’ ” Fletcher says. “Rob and I have a very complementary skill set. He’s much more of a car guy than I am, [and] I have a really strong business and organizational planning background.”
That background includes marketing, consulting, working with nonprofits and with city governments, assembling teams that work well together rather than stepping all over one another. Fletcher says that he wanted to help Mashigian make the Dream Cruise stand out.
“There’s something between 5,000 and 7,000 car shows in Texas every year,” Fletcher says. “I didn’t want to get lost and just be a show with 100 or 150 cars.” Fletcher and Mashigian agreed that they wanted a show where spectators could see and hear the cars moving, rather than sitting with their hoods up on a lot.
“[Rob] wanted to do this last year,” Fletcher says. “I pushed him back to this year. I said, ‘Let’s get the right volunteers, where you and I are not doing everything; let’s get the support of the city ... let’s get sponsorship money behind us.” The two met with Frisco Mayor Maher Maso, who suggested using the stadium rather than clogging streets with the cruise. The stadium allows for more car-club parking, and for cruising around nearby. Fletcher says that after 5 p.m., the cars will hit the streets of Frisco, but will move with the natural flow of traffic.
When Mashigian refers to drivers who stare at classic cars, I’m one of the people doing the staring,. I often see classics, especially on weekends, on U.S. 377 through Keller and occasionally on I-35W. But despite a longtime curiosity about this culture -- as a spectator, not a participant -- I’ve barely dipped a toe into it. Fletcher says that he, too, was surprised by the number of car clubs and shows that came up when he had an assistant do a web search just for Texas and Oklahoma events.
“What I’m finding out in my research on car shows is these guys who put together car shows often have no business background or marketing background,” Fletcher says. “They do a lot of work, and about 50 or 100 cars show up. And some have clubs that meet once a week or once a month. Our concept was, find out who these clubs are and give them an idea of doing a big meet-up.”
Mashigian says that every weekend, there are up to 15 classic-car shows within and house drive of his house. I met him at one of them -- he was passing out Texas Dream Cruise flyers at “Party on the Tarmac,” thrown by Mixed-Up Burgers‘ Grand Prairie Airport location. The big draw there wasn’t planes, but a classic-car show with vintage Mustangs, T-Birds, VWs and many other makes and models.
The same afternoon, Camp Bowie District and D&D Rockin Rods held the third annual Glory Days Car Show, which brought nearly 180 classic vehicles and a bigger crowd to the parking lot of Sutherland’s in far west Fort Worth.
“Anywhere from 20 to 100 cars will show up for [various car shows] every weekend,” Mashigian said during a later phone interview. “When you get to the larger ones, you’re at 150 to 200 cars. Those are some of the bigger ones. What I want to do is bring all the groups, all the car clubs together, so everyone can ‘dust it off and show it off,’ and show their rides.”
Mashigian says that the first Texas Dream Cruise is in Frisco partly because that’s where he lives, but he acknowledges that Frisco isn’t exactly centrally located in DFW. He adds, however, that this Texas event goes beyond Texas, with car enthusiasts from as far away as New Hampshire planning to attend. And both he and Fletcher expect the event to grow through the years, if only by word of mouth.
“If people didn’t hear about our show or they miss our event, they’ll say, ‘What were all those cars doing here?’,” Fletcher says. “And they’ll remember to come in 2014.”