NEW YORK – Transporting 130 vehicles to the parking lot of the New York Mets abandoned Shea Stadium, General Motors stages the 11th of its “Main Street in Motion” ride-and- drive events for about 4,000 potential car buyers here.

GM has hosted nearly 50,000 attendees around the country at such marketing events since early this year, designed to raise the perception of Cadillac, Buick, Chevrolet and GMC brands in the eyes of the driving public.

“We've averaged 20,000 test drives per city,” says Larry Peck, GM's experiential marketing manager who runs the events. The Chevrolet Volt is the car most people wait in line to drive, he says.

But in order to get behind the wheel of the electric vehicle, drivers first must take a spin in a Chevy Cruze.

Chevrolet’s performance cars, the Corvette and Camaro, are the next most-popular models, but GM requires a test drive in another vehicle before a consumer can flog the hot sports cars around one of the courses set up in the parking lot.

Peck says the Chevy Equinox, Buick LaCrosse and Regal also receive a lot of attention at the events, along with the GMC Terrain and Yukon Denali.

There is a truck course for drivers to test Chevrolet Silverado and GMC Sierra models, as well. “We have changed a lot of opinions about our products,” Peck says.

There is no attempt to sell these vehicles at the events. But when attendees leave, they are given a list of local dealers where the test vehicles are sold.

Peck says GM has tracked 500 purchases inspired by the Main Street in Motion tests. The auto maker will continue to track vehicle purchases resulting from participation in the events for six months.

In the immediate future, GM plans to stage the event in Washington, Long Island, NY; Philadelphia and Boston, before taking the cars back to California and down South.

The Main Street in Motion events allow attendees over 18 years old to test 70 different GM models, as well as a number of competitive brands on four courses.

“It's the largest single car collection we've ever had in any one spot,” Peck says. “When people see and drive our products, perception changes,” he says.

“Opinion about Buick is up 125%,” he claims.

Running over 3-day weekends, Friday to Sunday, the events offer games for children accompanying their parents.

There also are demonstrations of Onstar systems and other technologies by trained GM specialists who travel the country with the event.