In the summer of 2009, General Motors was in the midst of its financial crisis and the future of its Buick brand was in the air. As a result, the automaker cancelled its annual Buick Open golf tournament, marking the first time since its inception in 1958 that the historic event would not be played. The end of the Buick Open meant a blow to the town of Flint’s economy, where the golf event was held. Now, five years later, Buick’s support for Flint has returned, albeit in a much different way.
Mlive reports that President of GM North America, Mark Reuss, attended a car show in Flint last summer with other GM officials called “Back to the Bricks”. The 5-day long classic car event attracts hundreds of cars and thousands of car enthusiasts to Flint’s modest streets each year, and Reuss liked what he saw. In fact, he liked it so much that he told the organizers that “we (GM) need to get involved.” Sure enough, Buick is the headline sponsor for the event this year.
Buick is a particularly good fit for Back to the Bricks for a multitude of reasons. GM has since replaced Buick with Cadillac as the brand it uses to sponsor golf. Buick is also trying to ditch its image of being a ‘car for your grandfather’ in favor of a more youthful likeness, and sponsoring a golf event would be the perfect way to offset any progress it has made in that area. Flint is also the birthplace of the Buick brand, making Back to the Bricks the perfect event for the automaker to get involved with.
As for the Buick Open, its future still looks grim. Warwick Hills Golf and Country Club, where the tournament was held for the majority of its existence, is hoping to have the event back one day, but knows it’s unlikely.
“The dream is always to have the Buick Open back,” Jet Kilmer, president of the Grand Blanc Chamber of Commerce, told Mlive. “But I don’t think that is what the ultimate goal is, to revive the Buick Open.”
GM did not reveal how much the Back to the Bricks investment cost them, but it was likely no where near the amount it cost to host the Buick Open. When asked if the Back the Bricks sponsorship is a sign the Buick Open might return, GM plant communications manager Tom Wickham said that was “reading too much into it.”
The Buick-sponsored Back to the Bricks show will take place from August 12-16 in Flint and will consist of multiple events for participants, including a special “111 years of Buick party”. Head on over to the event’s website for more information.