DETROIT -

Motorcities National Heritage Area is a non-profit affiliate of the National Park Service dedicated to the preservation and promotion of our areas rich automotive and labor heritage. This is done with education, preservation, and revitalization of automotive facilities and promotion of automotive events and attractions. One such event you may have heard of is Autopalooza. I had the chance to talk to Brian Yopp, managing director of the Motorcities National Heritage Area.

What is Autopalooza and why was it started?

Brian Yopp: Autopalooza is a collaboration of all of the major automotive events throughout the summer.  It began in 2007 as a partnership between MotorCities National Heritage Area and the Detroit Metro Convention and Visitors Bureau, realizing that the month of August (at that time) represented a concentration of major activities which included the Concours d’Elegance of America, Woodward Dream Cruise and the Detroit Belle Isle Grand Prix. In the time since then we have expanded the promotion to include the entire summer and 14 events from across the region.  The power of the collaboration is that each event will have certain marketing dollar set aside, but by working together, we are able to share resources, best practices and amplify the marketing efforts ensuring that visitors will look at the region as one cohesive unit working to promote and support each other and provide a world class visitor experience.

How successful has it been so far?

Brian Yopp: The attendance at a number of our events have increase since the inception of Autopalooza.  Awareness of emerging events has also been increased by our efforts.  Most importantly, event promoters have come together for the common good of the region to work collaboratively, to promote each other and share resources and ideas.  This has increased the organizational capacity of the groups and consequentially improved the effectiveness of their events and the visitors experience in the MotorCities region.

Is there any outreach to younger people?

Brian Yopp: One of the key focuses of our programming is to reach that demographic.  MotorCities is proud of the Forward Gear Educational Program which, in partnership with the ASBE Foundation, looks to expose young people to the opportunities related to automotive careers in today's climate.  We encourage all of our event partners to attempt to cater to families and young people as they are the next generation of enthusiasts.  We support programming that allows young high school and college students to get hands on training and mentoring from current and retired auto workers.  We also work closely with groups like Hagerty Insuracne to create excitement for a new generation of collectors and enthusiasts who will not have the direct connection to the 1957 Chevy that other generations may have carried.  The hobby is truly about the personal connection to the vehicle.  Whether is it’s "your first…", "My dad's old…", "My favorite…", the love affair with the automobile has to be organic and usually comes from personal experience.

What is your organization doing in the near future & any big goals for the future?

Brian Yopp: This year we are commemorating the 150th Birthday of Henry Ford.  There are few figures more synonymous with our industry and more world renown than Mr. Ford.   On the weekend before his birthday on July 30, The Henry Ford 150 will have a booth as part of Maker Faire at The Henry Ford, July 27-28. The event embodies the spirit of ingenuity  and creativity and our space will feature a project call Fender Benders where Ford fenders become works of art before your very eyes.  Not too far from there at Mr. Ford’s home, The Henry Ford Fair Lane Estate, there will be a Community Celebration of his birthday, including the official transfer of ownership of the estate.  For more information visit www.henryford150.com  The  spirit of the celebration is ingenuity, sustainability and legacy.  We encourage everyone to follow in the footsteps of the tinkerer turned titan and to think about what they could be doing to leave a lasting impression on their community for many years to come.

MotorCities looks forward to continuing to connect to the public at our remaining Autopalooza events throughout July, August and September.  Our goal is to continue to make all of our “motor cities” world class destinations based on their unique, rich automotive and labor heritage.

If you'd like to learn more about the MotorCities National Heritage Area, and how you can become a member, visit www.motorcities.org

If you plan on going to any of the remaining Autopalooza events, make sure to use the hashtag #CruiseTheD on Instagram and Twitter to share your pictures and thoughts. Your pictures will show up on our Cruise The D app!

Don't have the app yet? Find out how to download it here.

Sponsored by: Specs Howard School of Media Arts