Campus Car Show Returns to Midland for 59th Year

Students are gearing up for the Northwood University International Auto Show, the largest outdoor new car show in North America featuring over 500 vehicles. This student-led event will run this weekend, October 7-9, on campus in Midland. This year’s show is “DREAM” themed and organizers are hoping that attendees leave the event feeling inspired to follow their dreams or, perhaps, that they find their dream car.
The show’s executive board and student DREAM team members have worked tirelessly over the last several weeks and months to bring a new look and feel this year as many events that were once held off campus will be held on campus during the show. “I am looking forward to having the community interact with the students and participating in the new events that will be offered this year. In the past, students stood at the booths and people would walk through the show. This year, it’s set up to be much more interactive with activities and on Sunday, there will be more activities for children,” shares Andria Thompson, Signature Events Chair, of her fourth auto show at the university, “We’ve just never done it like that before and I am excited.”
General Chair Ethan Schad, a self-proclaimed car nut participating in his fifth auto show at Northwood University, is most looking forward to exploring the exclusive cars that will be on display.  Attendees will see a wide range of cars, including a “Dream Car” collection powered by the Winkelman Collection that will feature a Bugatti Chiron, Pagani Huayra, and McLaren Speedtail.

 Over 500 vehicles are on display.
All of this excitement comes with organization, planning and the experiential learning that can only be obtained at Northwood University. Thompson and Schad agreed that they faced many challenges while working with student volunteers and inventory shortages amongst dealers, but ultimately the passion and perseverance of the students taught them that collaboration and flexibility is the key to success and achieving your dreams.

The Auto Show’s newly expanded schedule  includes two night shows on Friday and Saturday and Kids’ Day on Sunday morning when the show opens:
FRIDAY SHOW - Oct. 7, 12-9pm
SATURDAY SHOW -  Oct. 8, 12-9pm
CARS AND COFFEE - Sat, Oct. 8, 12-4pm - Hach Parking Lot
SUNDAY SHOW -  Oct.  9, 9am-1pm

Guests of this free community-wide event will enjoy the show as they use the newly installed Mall Walk that stretches across campus. After the historic flooding in May 2020, Northwood University had to rebuild much of the campus as 30 billion gallons of water caused over $17 million in damages. Rebuilding the Mall Walk served two purposes: creating community spaces that can be used year-round and protection against future flooding. The Mall Walk was completed and dedicated earlier this year and was funded by nearly 300 donors, including local foundations.

 The Mall Walk is the primary site for the Auto Show.
As the campus continues to grow and improve, programming is also expanding. Northwood University is pleased to announce a new speaker series, “Leadership Insights – A View from the Helm” to give our greater community access to influential and effective leaders. “‘A View from the Helm’ is a term introduced in a book by the same name, written by Dr. James Duderstadt, who served as president of the University of Michigan from 1988 to 1996,” explains Northwood President Kent MacDonald. “We thought it was fitting, as this discussion series will feature notable leaders like Dr. Duderstadt, who have held C-suite or similar positions.”
The first event took place on September 28 featuring William S. Stavropoulos and Terence F. Moore. Stavropoulos was the CEO of Dow, while Moore ran the MidMichigan Health system. Both speakers focused on various leadership topics using personal anecdotes. The university will hold four speaker events per school year and is looking forward to announcing the dynamic individuals that will be addressing the audience. 
All the Leadership Insights events will take place in a lively question-and-answer format. Through these conversational exchanges, guests will share their stories and discuss topics of interest. During each event, the audience will have an opportunity to ask questions. They will have the ability to submit questions through electronic polling software. Northwood students, alumni, faculty, and staff, as well as members of the greater Midland area and beyond are invited to this series. The sessions will be livestreamed to reach online students and individuals living in other locations in the U.S. and internationally.

 The auto show is organized and hosted by Northwood University students.
Just as the speaker series brings industry leaders to campus, the students on the auto show executive board are using the show as an opportunity to host two panel discussions. Students, alumni and the community are encouraged to attend a VIP panel that will be held Friday, October 7, from 10am-11am.

The panel includes Steve Rowley, President of Cox Automotive Inc.; Tina Prew, Brand Marketing and Communications Manager for Dodge; Mike Cavanaugh, Operations Vice President for Lithia & Driveway; Porter Brown, New Car Sales Manager of Garber Chrysler Dodge Jeep Ram in Saginaw; and Alice Thomas, Vice President of Acquisitions at Capital Automotive Financial. The VIP panel is set to take place at the John and Marjorie Hohman Amphitheater near the Founders Garden off the newly improved Mall Walk.

Saturday will feature a Women in Automotive Roundtable, starting at 9:45am in the McNair Center. It will be moderated by Northwood First Lady Mary Ellen MacPhee.

Panelists will include Lisa Rechsteiner, Partner and General Manager of Graff Chevrolet; Susan Michaels, Professional Development Executive for CDK Global; Diane Zimmerman, General Manager of Coffman Truck Sales; Nikki Paschall, Director of Communications and Engagement for Aftermarket Auto Parts Alliance; Kristin Oosterhart, District Sales Manager for Buick GMC; Debbie Perschon, Enterprise Accounts Director for CDK Global; Lisa Sailor of the National MS Society; and Tammy Horner, Senior Vice President, Credit Risk.  

To learn more about the Northwood University International Auto Show, the Leadership Insights speaker series and other events, please visit:

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Read more articles by Carly Lillard.

Carly Lillard moved to the Great Lakes Bay Region in 2007 from Traverse City. Since that time, she’s graduated from Northwood University and held positions at Dow, Northwood University, Midland Area Community Foundation, Shelterhouse and Youth For Understanding. Currently, Carly is working as the Director of Philanthropy and Strategic Relationships at Holy Cross Services while completing her Master’s Degree from Michigan State University in Strategic Communication. When she’s not writing, you will find her spending time with her husband, Jesse, and two children, Maycie and Elias. Carly can be reached at