By Christy Strawser
ROYAL OAK (CBS Detroit) There are fish stories, and then there are Woodward Dream Cruise stories, with tales running as thick as exhaust about exploits in the free-for-all days when a stoplight look was all it took for a story to start.

One of those stories belongs to Rex Vesaw of Lenox Township, who entertained his pals in their Woodward lawn chairs with a story that topped them all.

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“It’s true, I swear,” Vesaw said about the tale that had his buddies in awe.

It all started on a hot night in 1966 when Vesaw, then of Birmingham and fresh out of high school, stopped at a light in his 1931 Ford three-window coupe.

The guy in the next car gave him the eye, but Vesaw said a law had just been implemented to cut down on rubber peeling on Woodward — drag racing was a $500 fine.

“He said ‘you wanna race?’ and I said, ‘No, I can’t afford the ticket,'” Vesaw recalled. “He said ‘come on …’ and I said ‘OK.”

They sped off, and the next thing Vesaw knew, the guy in the car next to him pulled out a bubble light and put it on top of his car.

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“He was a cop!” Vesaw said.

He pulled over and recalled his drag racing foe saying, “You have two options: take a $500 ticket or
sell me your car.”

“What?” Vesaw said. The cop repeated it.

“I didn’t have the money, so I thought ‘I guess I have to sell him my car,'” Vesaw said.

The next day, the officer pulled up at his house with $800 cash — and Vesaw exchanged it for his pride and joy.

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And he makes do with an annual trip to the Dream Cruise and the Gratiot Cruise, which he helped create, to tell his story and re-live the days when Woodward Avenue was a place where dreams were made — and sometimes lost.