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VW GTI at M1 Concourse test drive June 2021 - Copy.JPG Tom Murphy
Volkswagen hosted media to drive new GTI at M1 Concourse in June, as construction was moving feverishly in preparation for Motor Bella.

Motor Bella New Showcase for OEMs, Detroit Auto Dealers

Organized by Detroit Auto Dealers to replace the COVID-cancelled North American International Auto Show, Motor Bella will display 350 vehicles from 35 brands. Acura, Ford, GM, Honda, Lincoln, Porsche, Stellantis, Toyota and VW will participate.

Automakers will show off their latest hardware, discuss critical issues and entertain clients and enthusiasts from around the globe when Motor Bella gets under way next week at the M1 Concourse in Pontiac, MI.

Organized by the Detroit Auto Dealers Assn. as an all-outdoors replacement for the COVID-cancelled North American International Auto Show, Motor Bella will display 350 vehicles from 35 brands as well as commentary from 80 experts and test drives on the M1 Concourse’s 1.5-mile (2.4-km) track. 

A half-dozen tents on the grounds will be used by General Motors, Ford, Stellantis, Toyota, Volkswagen and Honda. Several other automakers such as Acura and Porsche also plan displays on the grounds as well as some of the private garages on the property.

Industry preview and press days at Motor Bella will be Sept. 21 and 22, while the public is invited Sept. 23 to 26.

The M1 Concourse incorporates about 175 private “garage condos” alongside the track. 

Last month, M1 Concourse hosted Roadkill Nights on Woodward Avenue (designated as highway M1), which was sponsored by Dodge and Motor Trend magazine and linked to the annual Woodward Dream Cruise.

For Motor Bella, Jeep plans to build an off-road course on a corner of the property facing Woodward. Not to be outdone, Ford, which is hoping the Bronco can challenge Jeep’s grip on off-road fans, will have its own course at Motor Bella.

Event organizers say the M1 Concourse Event Center, a brand-new, 28,500-sq.-ft. (2,648-sq.-m) building with a ballroom, kitchen, meeting rooms and a gift shop, will be ready for Motor Bella.

The center will provide space for automakers, suppliers, trade associations and nonprofits to hold meetings, events or shows.

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Overhead view of track at M1 Concourse, with private car garages along right side. Additional garages have since been built.

Developers hope the center will become a common meeting place for people connected with different facets of the industry around the Motor City – similar to the GM Technical Center in Warren and Ford’s Glass House headquarters in Dearborn. 

Glenn Couch, regional vice president for Uniprop, a private equity firm and one of the major investors behind the M1 Concourse, says the Event Center has a brick patio in front of the entryway that will be used extensively during Motor Bella. 

The striking exterior of the Event Center is made up of hundreds of articulated panels that change color in varied light and are arrayed to create a unique appearance, Couch says. The panels, which insulate the building and protect it from moisture, were put on and taken off the building three times to make sure they fit properly. 

The building comes with the latest in audio-visual systems, its own internet access, doors for rolling in vehicles and a floor capable of handling up to 20,000 lbs. (9,070 kg), he says.

The second floor of the Event Center has space for a restaurant with a terrace overlooking the racetrack with its 11 turns at the heart of the M1 Concourse development, which sits on 87 acres (35 ha) along Woodward more than 20 miles (32 km) north of downtown Detroit. 

Joe SzczesnyJRS M1 Event Center  Glenn Couch 20210908 - Copy.jpg

Glenn Couch in new Event Center at M1 Concourse.

The restaurant is to open in 2022 but the ballroom, which can hold more than 1,100 guests and can be subdivided into three different spaces, is ready now, says Couch. 

Beyond Motor Bella, the rest of the Event Center will be ready for the American Speed Festival, described as a celebration of motorsports Sept. 30 to Oct. 3 that will include two days of competition at the M1 track and a one-day exposition of more than 60 race cars from the past, present and future.

The M1 Concourse was built after developers purchased the land in 2011 from Motors Liquidation Corp., which was set up to dispose of excess GM property after the company’s 2009 bankruptcy.

The site contained remnants of a manufacturing complex where GM had built a variety of vehicles, including small SUVs. Parts of the buildings dated back to the 19th century when the site belonged to the Rapid Motor Co., which later became GMC. 

After clearing tons of debris from demolished buildings, developers built the track and the first garages for car buffs in 2015. 

Backers of M1 Concourse say the development is filling a demand in the Motor City where car collecting is a popular hobby and exotic cars are plentiful.

Joe SzczesnyJRS M1 Event Center 20210908_ - Copy.jpg

Terrace of newly constructed Event Center at M1 Concourse.

TAGS: Dealers
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