2013-08-29 / Living

Dream Cruise

A memorable encounter for Davison man and his Chevy
810-452-2650 • ggould@mihomepaper.com

Tekla and Bill Kurkowski of Davison Township with their 1955 Chevrolet Bel Air. 
Photo by Gary Gould Tekla and Bill Kurkowski of Davison Township with their 1955 Chevrolet Bel Air. Photo by Gary Gould DAVISON TWP. — Riding along Woodward Avenue in his 1955 Chevy Bel Air brings back lots of good memories for Bill Kurkowski.

Kurkowski, 67, grew up in the metro Detroit area and spent much of his youth cruising up and down Woodward Avenue.

In recent years he’s found driving his classic car in the annual Woodward Dream Cruise is one way to keep those memories alive. But this year, Kurkowski and his wife, Tekla, had a once in a lifetime experience while taking part in the cruise.

While driving along a 2014 Chevrolet Corvette Stingray pulled alongside the Kurkowskis Bel Air and the driver began to rev his engine. When the couple looked over they immediately recognized David Muir, a reporter for ABC News, in the passenger seat.

“We didn’t know who was driving the car though,” said Kurkowski, a retiree of General Motors. “So I started to ‘goose’ the car and before you know we hit second gear.”

That was as far as the race lasted. The Vette carrying Muir accelerated away as did a film crew following along. It wasn’t until a short time later the Kurkowski’s learned the mystery driver was none other than NASCAR racing champ Jeff Gordon, who was being featured as ABC News’ Person of the Week.

The brief encounter with Gordon and Muir was just a snippet in the ABC News report, but the Kurkowski’s said they were thrilled with the chance to meet the racing legend.

“I think that’s pretty cool,” said Bill Kurkowski. “A million and a half people here for Dream Cruise and I was the only one challenging Jeff Gordon — and he beat me hands down.”

The brief race between Gordon and Kurkowski lasted all of just a few seconds, but for the Kurkowskis it was their 15 minutes of fame, said Tekla.

The couple moved from Mackinaw City, where they originally retired to after Bill left the shop, to settle in Davison about four years ago. Up north Tekla had managed the Mission Pointe Resort on Mackinac Island and Bill worked for Shepler’s ferry service.

Back in the area that gave birth to the auto industry, Kurkowki said he and Tekla decided to get involved in the local classic car scene. They already owned a 1968 Chevy pikup truck when they decided to sell it and get a GTO.

Kurkowski said he was fond of the GTO because it was made in the Pontiac plant where he worked for 30 years. When he couldn;t find a GTO to his liking, he said the Bel Air caught his attention and he bought it.

Since then the couple takes it to many of the local classic car shows, Back to the Bricks and Woodward Dream Cruise.

“We like looking at the old classic cars,” said Bill Kurkowski, adding one of the things he likes about the ABC News segment is how it compares the classic cars with today’s custom sports cars. “That’s what you call the old versus the new.”

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