Photo source: Road & Track / Hollis Bennett
Nestled deep in the Great Smokey Mountains and right along the North Carolina-Tennessee border, there’s a stretch of road unlike anything else. US129, the “Tail of the Dragon”, or “The Dragon” – whatever you want to call it, it’s a road with a reputation. The Dragon is packed with a reported 318 curves in just eleven miles, which means that at no point are your wheels pointed straight. With rock faces one on side and a lethal, mostly un-guarded drop on the other, there is an impossibly small amount of room for error.
80 crashes have been reported since April of this year and four of these have been fatal in that short time (source: dragonawareness.com). Most people go here for the fun of those 318 curves, the gorgeous scenery from one of several overlooks, and the challenge of getting home without leaving anything behind on the tree of shame. Lost tourists just try to get to the other side.
However, there are others who go there for a totally different reason. They take on The Dragon with everything they have on tap. If you go during the off-season or at a slower time of the day, you just might see one of these people. They’ll be the ones dropping knees or getting every last bit of grip out of their tires for the purpose of being the fastest.
Road & Track were at The Dragon to try to meet some of these people, including one who allegedly holds the fastest time ever recorded on the road. It’s a compelling read which not only gives you an idea of what it’s like to take on of one of the most challenging roads on earth, but also gives you some interesting insight into the people who make The Dragon their life.
If you’re going to read anything else today, make it this. Head on over to Road & Track to read this phenomenal story in its entirety and start planning your next trip to The Dragon like I am.
[Sources: Road & Track, DragonAwareness.com]