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It’s Not Just COVID-19 That Could Prevent The Coolest Event Of The Year From Happening Next Year

Roadkill Nights 2019 2020 2021
Roadkill Nights

What was a one point a full calendar of summer automotive events in Michigan evaporated to nothing. The reimagined Detroit Auto Show in June, canceled. The Belle Isle Grand Prix, canceled. The Woodward Dream Cruise in August, (officially) canceled. And of course, 2020 Roadkill Nights, sponsored by Dodge, didn’t happen either. But 2021 is a new year, and the industry waits with bated breath that some semblance of normalcy will be back by the time we’re on the other side of winter. For Dodge, that means getting ready for Roadkill Nights 2021.

“Obviously we didn’t do it this year,” said Tim Kuniskis, head of FCA passenger cars. “We say every single year that it’s going to be a year-to-year, because quite honestly that’s as much of a community event as it is our event.”

Roadkill Nights 2019 2020 2021
Photo copyright Manoli Katakis, Muscle Cars & Trucks.

Roadkill Nights is unlike any other event in the world. Traditionally taking place a weekend or two just before the Woodward Dream Cruise in August, a section of Woodward Avenue is closed off for 1/8th-mile drag racing, while spectators watch from bleachers set up on the edge of the M1 Concourse, an 87-acre compound featuring customizable garages, a private race track, and upcoming events center. For one day, Dodge takes over the facility, and muscle car enthusiasts can participate in thrill rides in Hellcat Chargers and Challengers with professional drivers, gawk at the rows of Mopar muscle, and take in all the sights and sounds of drag racing on Woodward Avenue. This unique feature is also a crux. It takes place on a public road. So even if there’s a vaccine for COVID-19, Dodge still has to get the approval of the relevant bureaucracies.

“We can’t just draw a line in the sand and say ‘yes we are gonna do it,’ because we gotta get the Department of Transportation, we gotta get the City of Pontiac – everybody each year has to sign off on allowing us to do it,” explained Kuniskis, when explaining the complexities of planning Roadkill Nights 2021.

Roadkill Nights 2019 2020 2021
Pontiac Trans Am with aftermarket blower. Photo Copyright

Hopefully officials responsible for signing off on Roadkill Nights continue to welcome this massive event that celebrates American car culture. Last year, more than 47,000 enthusiasts attended the event, which was the brainchild of MotorTrend Group. More than 120 street-legal cars hit the specially prepped 1/8-mile drag strip on Woodward Avenue between Rapid Street and South Boulevard to compete in high-powered drag racing for a cash purse totaling $30,000. The quickest Dodge cars in both the small and large tire categories also took home $5,000 each.

“We would love to do it, we wanna do it, we’re budgeting to do it (for 2021),” said Kuniskis. “Whether COVID is gonna comply with us and our wishes and whether the City (of Pontiac) and (Michigan) Department of Transportation will, TBD. Hope so.”

Roadkill Nights 2018 2019 2020 2021 Leah Pritchett Dodge 1320 NHRA Top Fuel Burnout Roadkill Nights 2
Photo copyright Manoli Katakis, Muscle Cars & Trucks.

Written by Manoli Katakis

Muscle Cars & Trucks was founded by Manoli Katakis - an automotive media veteran that has been covering the latest car news since 2009. His journalism has uncovered dozens of major product changes, updates, plans, and cancellations long before automakers were ready to make things official.

Some highlights over the years of his reporting include the uncovering of the Zora trademark before anybody else reported on the coming of a mid-engine Corvette, as well as the dead-accurate reporting of the coming of the Chevrolet Colorado ZR2, two years before it hit the market, and even before the debut of the concept vehicle. This type of reporting has immediately continued here, with reports of the original seventh-generation Camaro plans being shelved, as well as what's in store for the Chevrolet Silverado.

Some of his work can be found on massive automotive media outlets, such as Motor1. He also has been a guest on the 910AM Radio Station with Detroit News auto critic Henry Payne, as well as the enthusiast-oriented Camaro Show podcast.

Over the years, Manoli has interviewed various automotive industry titans, leaders, and people that make things happen otherwise. These include figureheads such as GM CEO Mary Barra, GM President Mark Reuss, automotive aftermarket icon Ken Lingenfelter, Dodge firebrand Tim Kuniskis, along with various chief engineers of vehicles such as the Ford F-150 & Mustang, Chevrolet Camaro & Corvette, and many more.

At MC&T, Manoli is taking his journalism expertise, deeply planted sources, driving abilities, and automotive industry knowledge to new levels, covering more vehicles and brands than ever before. This is the place where you will continue to read groundbreaking stories about American performance vehicles, pickup trucks, and sport utility vehicles. Here is where you’ll also read insights and quotes from various automotive subject matter experts on the latest relevant products, as well as some of the latest official news from their manufacturers.

Fun facts: he also once beat Corvette Racing driver Tommy Milner in an autocross with a Chevrolet Bolt EV. The biggest vehicle he’s ever driven is a John Deere mining truck. Besides a go-kart, the smallest vehicle he’s driven has been a Hyundai i10. He’s also spent time in the cockpit of various American performance vehicle icons, including the fifth-generation Chevrolet Camaro Z/28, Dodge Challenger Demon, and Ford Mustang GT350R. He has reviewed dozens of trucks, SUVs, and performance vehicles over the years.

One of his favorite new vehicles on the market today happens to be the Chevrolet Colorado ZR2 Bison. He is also a card carrying member of the Sports Car Club of America, and regularly participates in Detroit Region autocross events.

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