Last weekend, I drove for 32 hours and more than 1,700 miles in the process of making an increasingly popular vehicular pilgrimage. No, not Bowling Green, nor Indy, nor Pebble nor Laguna. There was no factory tour waiting for me at the end of my journey. No concours of priceless Italian bella macchina. Just a $59/night motel and some of the best damn driving roads in the US of A.
I'm talking about the Tail of the Dragon, US 129 across Deal's Gap — at the border of Tennessee and North Carolina. Three hundred eighteen turns in a little over 11 miles. A bunch of Se7eners are meeting up here next July (on 07/07/07, get it?) to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Lotus Super Seven Series 1, and this late fall trip was the initial recon for the organizers. We wanted to see if the hotel we selected looked as nice as it did online (it did!), and of course, to come face to face with one of America's premier touge courses.
I have no idea from where I heard about the road first, but I've been intrigued by the TotD for about two years. Every week, I've checked out the eponymous Web site run by locals Ron and Nancy Johnson (updated every Monday or Tuesday) as well as the photoblog of the dean of Dragon photogs, Darryl "Killboy" Cannon (updated every Wednesday).
Here's an actual quote from me while driving the Tail of the Dragon: "If you put a wheel off here, you could really f-yourself." And here's a composite of quotes from my passenger, a fellow Se7en owner: "It's like an autocross, except with elevation changes and traffic coming the other way."
The long and short of it is, if you live within roadtripping distance and call yourself a driving enthusiast, you must visit the Tail. Even if it didn't exist, there are dozens of roads in the area that will make your local favorite twisty bit seem downright mundane. And when you go, don't drive like an idiot and ruin it for future generations. I'll leave you with two pieces of advice: A) DO NOT CROSS THE DOUBLE YELLOW. EVER; and B) you may want to take Dramamine before viewing the video above.
Peace, love, and Colin Chapman,
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Hey Killboy: Can You Shoot StarQuests On the Tail of the Dragon? [internal]