President of General Motors North America Mark Reuss was just one of over a half million car enthusiasts on hand for the spectacular car show known as the Back to the Bricks in Flint Michigan this year, being on hand for the opening ceremonies of the 9th Annual Back to the Bricks and Corvette Reunion events to take part in unveiling the bronze statue of William “Billy” Durant, founder of General Motors.
Durant’s statue is the fourth to be funded by profits and donations generated from Back to the Bricks in Flint, known as “Vehicle City.” Durant will join the statues of Louis Chevrolet and David Buick in the downtown brick plaza; a statue of Walter Chrysler will be unveiled next month at the Flint airport.
The opening of the Back to the Bricks event kicked off with a fly over from a World War II B29 bomber, followed by a formation of the legendary “Hellcat” fighter planes, which were powered by Buick engines built in Flint. Following the invocation and raising of the flag, the founder of the Bricks event, Allen Hatch, spoke briefly about the event and the statue. Hatch, an automobile enthusiast and collector, came up with the idea of “giving something back to the city of Flint and its rich automotive history” ten years ago. Having built the Bricks into one of the premier automotive events in the state, Hatch tries to keep a low profile, while being the impetus for regenerating the city’s deteriorating downtown.
During his speech, Reuss spoke about the importance of the city of Flint to GM and the recently-acquired Durant – Dort Carriage Company building – a 25,000 square foot, 133 year old brick property located just a few blocks from where the Durant statue watches over the plaza. The space has become known as “Factory 1” and is considered to be the forerunner of GM as a corporation and the birthplace of General Motors. Reuss, widely acknowledged as a “car guy” and instrumental in getting GM’s business back into the hands of car enthusiasts, pledged continued support and investment in Flint, adding that plans were still being developed for the facility and implying that several of GM’s historic cars may be housed in the old Durant-Dort Carriage factory.
Following the unveiling of Durant’s statue, Reuss took a walk through the streets of downtown Flint, which were closed for the day to accommodate the thousands of cars and over 500,000 spectators, in order to check out the vehicles on display. As he headed for the section of downtown reserved for the 600+ Corvettes as a part of the Corvette Reunion, he stopped to admire some of the cars on display.
Observing Mr. Reuss’ interest in several of the vehciles, it’s obvious that the engineer-turned-executive has a true love for anything on wheels. Under Mark Reuss’ guidance, General Motors has produced some of the best cars in the corporation’s history, including the 2013 North American Car of the Year, the Cadillac ATS. In addition, Reuss’ guidance has resulted in the launch or introduction of such highly-acclaimed new vehicles as the new 2014 Corvette C7, 2014 Camaro Z/28, 2014 Cruze Turbo Diesel, 2014 Chevrolet Impala, and 2014 Chevrolet SS performance sedan.