The Tail of The Dragon is one of North America’s most well-known motorcycle and sports car roads. This stretch of highway contains 318 turns in just over 11 miles with no cross-streets. Thousands of drivers come from all over North America and beyond to drive this road every year. The road is covered with professional photographers and nice rides. Additionally, the beautiful Appalachian mountains contains numerous other fun roads including the Cherohala Skyway, Hellbender, Blue Ridge Parkway, The Diamondback, The Devil’s Triangle (TN), etc. within NC along the border with TN. A simple google or youtube search will pull up countless information about the area and all it has to offer.
GenSport United has routinely done two Tail of the Dragon runs each year, one in the spring and one in the fall. Additionally, the Fall is always our bigger event with vendors, larger numbers, and fun to be expected. Spring is the more laid back event where we look to try new things and ideas for future inclusion into the event.
8th Annual Spring Run of the Dragon
In just a few short months it will be time once again to cap off the summer and prepare to bring that project car out to truly test what she is made of! That’s right, its time again for the Spring Run of the Tail of the Dragon, 2018 edition. By and far the largest gathering of Genesis Coupes in the country. From Thursday, March 29th to Sunday April 1st, we will all converge once again at the Tail of the Dragon (Tail of the Dragon at Deals Gap, motorcycle and sport car two-lane tourism serving Tail of the Dragon at Deals Gap, Cherohala Skyway, Moonshiner28, Devils Triangle, and Six Gap North Georgia.) on the border of NC and TN to tear up some great roads, meet and have fun with great people, and enjoy the Genesis Coupe platform doing what it was designed to do. We welcome any Genesis Coupe owner whether in GenSport or not to reach out and attend. It is an absolute blast and we have yet to have anyone go home disappointed. We usually stay at a small resort called Fontana Village where we work a group rate for those attending that is just south-east of the Dragon along another good road known as Hellbender.
For more information about lodging, restaurants, entertainment and more please visit our friends at the Tail of the Dragon Store/Website:
Motorcycle and sport car tourism serving Tail of the Dragon at Deals Gap, Cherohala Skyway, Moonshiner28, Devils Triangle, Diamondback, Blue Ridge Parkway, and more.
Run of the Dragon Event Countdown!
Watch out for local law enforcement. The map below shows the most common areas for radar speed traps.
LEOs on and near the Dragon usually set-up in straights where the unsuspecting driver punches the throttle. They are also watching for passing on the double yellow.
In North Carolina the most likely radar spots are on the 4-lane highways, particularly US19/US74 near Bryson City and NC 28 near the Graham/Swain County line (4-lane).
Also take note that many locals have EMS/FIRE radios in their trucks and will call in high speed/reckless passing.
Although the event primarily focuses on driving the dragon, we also drive a few scenic routes as well. We routinely have over 50 cars if not 100+ attending a run and we want to make sure everyone knows what to do if you get separated from the group. We will have veterans of any given run leading the various groups and will do our best to keep everyone together. Unfortunately, things happen such as driving through towns with red lights that cause the group to break up a bit, so please familiarize yourself with the routes (noting key points along the drive) in case you get separated. We will be providing a digital copy of the routes so that you can print them to take a hard copy with you.
The goal of this event is to have fun, make memories, and to simply enjoy the time that you spend with each other while here. Through various group activities and scheduled events, we hope to provide an atmosphere of respect and entertainment. Whether it’s your first time with us or you are a “repeat offender”, we anticipate that all of the planning and effort will help to provide you the best weekend you have ever had. So, whether you are tearing up a mountain road solo or with a group, helping a fellow friend to install that particular mod to their car, or just sitting around a warm camp fire at night enjoying the stars and a drink, please keep an open mind and enjoy your time to the fullest.
Cherohala Skyway (TN Hwy 165, NC Hwy 143) is a 43-mile National Scenic Byway that connects Tellico Plains, Tennessee, with Robbinsville, North Carolina. Opened and dedicated in fall of 1996, this highway starts at 800 ft. in elevation, and climbs over mountains as high as 5390 ft at Santeetlah Overlook on the state border, with 21 miles of the Skyway in southeast Tennessee and 15 miles in North Carolina. The road crosses through the Cherokee and Nantahala National Forests, thus the name “Chero…hala.” Travelers on the Tennessee side are treated to mile-high vistas, brilliant seasonal foliage, the magnificent splendor of the Cherokee National Forest and the Tellico River. The rugged mountains, sparse human population and diverse habitats of Tennessee’s eastern border make it home to an amazing variety of wildlife. There is little evidence of civilization from views that rival – or surpass – any from the Blue Ridge Parkway.
Google Maps Link for the Route:Cherohala Skyway Note:To open the map in your mobile phone’s Google Maps app, you must view this page through your phone’s browser on an Android device. If you got here through a link from the Facebook app on your phone, the page opened up in Facebook’s browser which will allow you to see the map but not navigate. If you open this link on an Apple device it will only open the first waypoint; however, there’s a good chance that it will recompute a route that may be different than the planned route.
Approximate driving time – 5+ hours – Longer with stop offs
The Waterfall Run
Head down Route 28 to take in Dry Falls and the Bridal Veil Falls. Then head back to the new pavement of Forest Service Road 711. From there back to Robinsonville via scenic Wayah Road for gasoline and food.
Google Maps Link for the Route:The Waterfall Run Note:To open the map in your mobile phone’s Google Maps app, you must view this page through your phone’s browser on an Android device. If you got here through a link from the Facebook app on your phone, the page opened up in Facebook’s browser which will allow you to see the map but not navigate. If you open this link on an Apple device it will only open the first waypoint; however, there’s a good chance that it will recompute a route that may be different than the planned route.
Approximate driving time – 5+ hours – Longer with stop offs
The Devils Triangle, just north of Oak Ridge (TN) in the mountains of the Cumberland Plateau, is made up of some of the most unusual two lane twisty roads in eastern Tennessee. This run is recommended for experienced drivers. The adventure ranges from the bucolic rural Tennessee scenery to a view of Brushy Mountain State Prison; from gentle country road sweepers to gnarly steep switchbacks; from serene straights to Dragon like twisties with guard rails of death; from gentle pull-offs to three foot deep rock strewn gullies just inches from the pavement; from peaceful farmsteads to sections of rutted roadway right out of a horror movie.
Google Maps Link for the Route:Devil’s Triangle Note:To open the map in your mobile phone’s Google Maps app, you must view this page through your phone’s browser on an Android device. If you got here through a link from the Facebook app on your phone, the page opened up in Facebook’s browser which will allow you to see the map but not navigate. If you open this link on an Apple device it will only open the first waypoint; however, there’s a good chance that it will recompute a route that may be different than the planned route.
Approximate driving time – 7+ hours – Longer with stop offs
Newfound Gap/Clingman’s Dome
A very scenic route that starts through the lower 129. Then head down the Nantahala gorge and up US 441 North. On the return trip there will be a stop off at Clingmans Dome (Weather Permitting), the third highest mountain east of the Mississippi at 6,643 ft. This run is similar to the Skyway taken at a slower pace with several areas to turn off and grab photos.
Google Maps Link for the Route:Clingman’s Dome Note:To open the map in your mobile phone’s Google Maps app, you must view this page through your phone’s browser on an Android device. If you got here through a link from the Facebook app on your phone, the page opened up in Facebook’s browser which will allow you to see the map but not navigate. If you open this link on an Apple device it will only open the first waypoint; however, there’s a good chance that it will recompute a route that may be different than the planned route.
Approximate driving time – 6+ hours – Longer with stop offs
Travel to the Pisgah National forest and over the Great Smokey Mountains to Hwy 209 with over 234 twists, turns and curves from I-40 to Hot Springs. NC 209 has a little bit of everything you are looking for – pastoral valley views, challenging mountain climbs, twisty and tight technical sections, and a great little mountain town to visit – Hot Springs, NC. It can be a lazy roll through the scenic countryside or a place to test the edge of your tires.
Google Maps Link for the Route:The Rattler Note:To open the map in your mobile phone’s Google Maps app, you must view this page through your phone’s browser on an Android device. If you got here through a link from the Facebook app on your phone, the page opened up in Facebook’s browser which will allow you to see the map but not navigate. If you open this link on an Apple device it will only open the first waypoint; however, there’s a good chance that it will recompute a route that may be different than the planned route.
Approximate driving time – 8+ hours – Longer with stop offs
Blue Ridge Parkway Run
The Blue Ridge Parkway run is an experience is unlike any other: a moderate-paced and relaxing drive revealing stunning long-range vistas and close-up views of the rugged mountains and pastoral landscapes of the Appalachian Highlands. The Parkway meanders for 469 miles; however, our run will only take us from the Southwestern entrance in Cherokee 57 miles down to Brevard and then a scenic drive back to Fontana
Google Maps Link for the Route:The Blue Ridge Parkway Note: To open the map in your mobile phone’s Google Maps app, you must view this page through your phone’s browser on an Android device. If you got here through a link from the Facebook app on your phone, the page opened up in Facebook’s browser which will allow you to see the map but not navigate. If you open this link on an Apple device it will only open the first waypoint; however, there’s a good chance that it will recompute the route and may be different than the planned route.
Approximate driving time – 6+ hours
Foothill’s Parkway Twilight Run
Head to the Foothills Parkway Look Rock observation deck to watch the sun set in the mountains. (Weather Permitting)
Google Maps Link for the Route:The Twilight Run Note:To open the map in your mobile phone’s Google Maps app, you must view this page through your phone’s browser on an Android device. If you got here through a link from the Facebook app on your phone, the page opened up in Facebook’s browser which will allow you to see the map but not navigate. If you open this link on an Apple device it will only open the first waypoint; however, there’s a good chance that it will recompute the route and may be different than the planned route.
Approximate driving time – 2+ hours
Thunder Road Run
Pick up this road on US19 just a few miles north of the 129/19 junction. Follow Wayah Creek up the gorge crossing over the creek several times. The road travels past Nantahala Lake then over the mountain range and into Franklin. The return trip is back on Thunder Road. It’s 56 miles of twisting fun.
Google Maps Link for the Route:Thunder Road Note: To open the map in your mobile phone’s Google Maps app, you must view this page through your phone’s browser on an Android device. If you got here through a link from the Facebook app on your phone, the page opened up in Facebook’s browser which will allow you to see the map but not navigate. If you open this link on an Apple device it will only open the first waypoint; however, there’s a good chance that it will recompute the route and may be different than the planned route.
Don’t try to be the guy in front of you or let the guy behind you push you beyond where you feel comfortable driving. Many newcomers to the Dragon do not have a full appreciation for how much concentration and work it is to keep your car on your side of the road for 11 miles while negotiating 318 curves. The experience leaves many drivers exhausted at the end of one run.
Do not assume there is nothing coming from the other direction or you could find yourself eating a motorcycle or another car’s grill. Other drivers WILL call you out if they catch you crossing the double yellows. Just don’t do it… even if you don’t get into an accident, we will take your cookies away if you make a habit of doing it.
Most drivers will tell you that there is a rhythm to driving the Dragon. The first time or even second time you run the Dragon should not be in a group. You’ll have to drive up and down the Dragon a few times to familiarize yourself with the road and to get a feel for the rhythm. Brake early and do not accelerate too hard out of a turn not knowing how sharp or when the next turn is coming. STAY on your side of the road!
Many of the curves on the Dragon are blind curves and you cannot see what the driver in front of you can see. Leave yourself enough room to be able to stop completely in the event that the driver in front of you has to come to an emergency stop.
So, you think you can drive. If most of your driving experience is city driving or highway, driving your skill set has not prepared you for the Dragon! Weaving in and out of traffic is not the same thing as taking hairpin curves at high speed. Your mistake can easily end up adorning the side of the mountain.
Your lifeline is your car! The Dragon will cause you to use your car in ways that it has never been used before. Simple things like low tire pressure can be detrimental. Make sure you check your car out before each run. As a minimum you want to check oil levels, water levels, power steering fluid levels, brake fluid levels, tire pressure, tire wear, and loose parts. Additionally, as you drive, pay particular attention to your brakes, handling, and any unusual sounds (other than scraping because you will scrape). If you fail to maintain your car you could find yourself stranded 40+ miles from civilization outside of cell range.
Road conditions can and do change rapidly. A little water on the road will draw embedded oil up and make the road very slippery very fast. Additionally, a car in front of you can kick a little gravel on the road or the wind can blow leaves on the road and change the road conditions from dry and good to dangerous in a very short time. Situational awareness cannot be overstated. Don’t screw with your phone, don’t play with your radio, and don’t take your eyes off the road sightseeing while you are driving.
Not even a little bit. This should go without saying, but if you have even had a single beer, don’t risk making the run. The Dragon is challenging enough without trying to do it impaired in any kind of way. This also goes for medications and other drugs that make you drowsy and not getting enough rest. Make sure that you are in top physical condition. Be honest with yourself and do a self-assessment before making a run. We want you to enjoy yourself and have fun. You won’t do either if your car gets totaled or you get killed. If you can’t exercise good judgement when you indulge, consider skipping it this weekend and enjoy the fresh mountain air instead.
Especially motorcycles! Many of the motorcyclists that travel on the Dragon are impatient and are not willing to wait for you to pull off to pass. If a motorcycle is passing you, do not speed up and if possible pull as far to the right as possible. While the thought of watching a motorcycle have a head on collision with an oncoming car may appeal to some of you, remember that the car that hits the motorcycle is heavier and motorcycle parts (or the motorcyclist) will be hurled in the direction that the car is traveling. Don’t be an egotist… let the motorcycle pass! You should anticipate that you may find yourself in a situation where an oncoming motorcycle or car will be in your lane. Slow down and try to give the oncoming vehicle as much room to complete their pass as you can give them. On rare occasion, you may encounter a large truck trying to negotiate the Dragon. Large trucks cannot negotiate the turns and stay in their lane! Stay alert and stay alive!
On several of the longer runs you should be familiar with the route. GenSport United publishes a packet prior to the beginning of the event. Find that packet and PRINT the maps. Do not rely on your cell phone for directions, as there are a lot more cellular holes than there are cellular hotspots up in the mountains. It might also be a good idea to purchase an old school road map so that if you do find yourself lost, you can find your way back. In many cases on the longer runs, the group is quite large and as a result, the halves get separated. If you find yourself in the front of the back half and you have no idea where the front half is, you are going to upset a lot of people who are following you.
If you have Hyundai OEM brakes, you are going to experience brake fade. Many folks have not used their brakes so much that they have ever experienced brake fade but it can get bad enough to where you will feel like you can no longer stop your car. Before you get to that point, slow down! Ideally, if you are familiar with mountain driving, you will not have to use your brakes very often and can use engine braking to slow you down enough to safely negotiate most curves when traveling at a decent speed. If you are not familiar with how to downshift smoothly, you might want to practice a bit before you get to the Dragon. Your brakes will love you for that!
A funny statistic that people may not be aware of is the fact that most folks who were killed on the Dragon were headed northbound. This may be due to the reasons I stated in #10 where downhill traffic tends to use their brakes more than uphill traffic; thus, more brake failures occur going downhill.
If you are given an opportunity to take a break… take it! If you are driving a 2.0T and you have been pushing your turbo hard… let the car idle… don’t shut it off. Let the car cool down naturally or you’ll end up coking your bearings. If you’ve been using your brakes hard (you can smell smoking brake), drive a mile or so using your brakes only very lightly to allow them to cool off. Remember that your brake pads are always in contact with the brake disc. If you stop while the discs are hot, the pad will bake on your discs to give you that “warped” disc feeling.
You tend to unconsciously steer in the direction that you are looking. You can make this work for you or it can work against you. You make it work for you by keeping your eyes on the road. Always look to where you want the car to go and your hands will tend to follow your eyes. If you are out sightseeing, you may find yourself straying off the edge of the road or over the double yellows.
Go over each run and think about what you did and how you could do it better. If you made a mistake, don’t dwell on the mistake, think about what you could have done to prevent that mistake and then put that plan into action for each future run.
You may hear other drivers describe their driving style as “late brakers”. Late braking, or “trail braking” is a technique used by advanced drivers to enter a turn as fast as possible. As you might have surmised, this technique can be dangerous if you are not accustomed to taking curves at high speed AND your car is not properly equipped to handle it. This technique takes a lot of practice and a considerable amount of skill to master. If you have not mastered this technique before the Dragon, don’t use the Dragon as your training ground. If you brake too hard, you’ll end up plowing the car straight through the turn (understeer)…. or if you accelerate too early in the turn you’ll spin the car in the turn (oversteer). Neither situation on a narrow public mountain road ends well. Brake early and complete your braking before you enter the curve. Coast around ¾ of the turn and slowly accelerate out of the turn. If you find that you are still applying your brake while you are in the turn, you are braking too late. Steering corrections in the turn can have the same effect.
You will execute at least 318 turning movements each time you make a trip up or down the Dragon. Your turn in should never be with a sharp movement of the wheel. If you are doing it right, you are making a single smooth movement in and a single smooth movement out of each turn. Sharp movements of the wheel will result in a fast weight transfer that can destabilize your grip. Do not use one hand and spin the wheel with your palm. Try not to cross your hands over one another. Do not shuffle your hands. If you are using proper steering technique, your left hand will always be from the 6 o’clock to 12 o’clock side (left side) of the wheel and your right hand will always be from the 12 o’clock to 6 o’clock side (right side) of the wheel. Under no circumstances should you allow the wheel to spin back to center on its own. You can practice this technique on your daily drive.
You don’t lose cool points for getting out of the way. When practical, use the pull offs and let faster traffic pass you by. There are too many impatient drivers on the Dragon who will do really stupid things (like try to pass you) if you don’t let them by. Be the bigger driver… let the speed demons go by. Don’t ever feel pressured by the car behind you to go faster than you are comfortable driving. If you find that you are being passed, pull over as far to the right as you can and slow down to let the jerk complete the pass as quickly as possible. There are no legal passing zones on the Dragon which means that the person passing you cannot see far enough down the road to execute a safe pass.
This one may seem a bit silly, but you may thank me for this little bit of advice later. Even if you don’t typically get motion sick as a driver, you may find that your equilibrium is thrown off just enough to make you nauseous. Do yourself a favor and save the big meal for after the run. If you do find that you are getting motion sick, it may be a better thing to find a pull off and breathe for a bit before trying to push on. If you are focused on not blowing chunks all over your dash, you are probably not thinking about where you are pointing your car.
Nothing sucks more than having something that was in the back seat flying forward if you have to brake hard. Additionally, loose stuff in the backseat does tend to be slung from side to side in your car on the curves. Secure your gear before it becomes a flying ballistic projectile.
No kidding. The Dragon runs through a National Park and the wildlife is not kept in cages and sometimes ends up on the road. You would be surprised how much hurt a small animal can put you your car… much less a bear.
No matter how good you think you are, you are not as good. This event is not a competition. You will win zero cool points for hooning, We have earned a reputation among the locals who live at and near the Dragon as a responsible organization who take care of our own. Please do not be THAT guy.
Technical proficiency requires little physical effort because the performances are always controlled, balanced. Less technically perfected efforts require as much physical and emotional strength as necessary to continually snatch oneself back from disaster time after time. To do something inefficiently requires more effort, like driving a car with an out-of-balance wheel. Beginners should not expect to post times that would champions would be proud to claim. Experienced drivers who have been idle should expect to spend practice time to find and refine old skills.
Everything about driving on the Dragon is dynamic: temperature, tire wear, road conditions, excitement, near misses, FATIGUE. When you become physically tired, the first thing to go is your sense of judgment. Fatigue causes you to get sloppy. Crisp turn-in suffers, throttle action becomes more abrupt and driving no longer flows from one action to another. Failure to recognize mistakes, failure to anticipate and adjust are all indications of lost concentration and fatigue. Why driving suffers is no mystery. We are poised for flight, our muscle systems are cocked for emergencies — and release — that never come. We get tired of being poised, but we can’t willfully let go. Fatigue itself is a snowballing mechanism: tired muscles contract themselves involuntarily and thus use still more energy, generating more fatigue in the uncontrolled effort. Fatigue has focused concentration on your body. If your attention is on your body, it is not on your driving.
I know that we all like to think that the time, effort, and money that we have invested in our cars to get as close to that racecar status as we can really does make our cars like racecars… but they are not. In fact, performance enhancements can make you a far more dangerous driver than someone who has made no modification to their cars because you tend to get overconfident that your build will compensate for bad driving. It does not. Your car will be recovered from the side of a mountain like any other car that has crashed on the Dragon. A crashed modified car looks just like a crashed stock car. Don’t make the mistake of thinking that your modifications somehow puts you in the supercar category. It really doesn’t.
Cellular reception in the mountains is spotty at best. Fontana Village has limited Verizon cellular support (at the Main Lodge) and WiFi (if you have calling over WiFi capabilities on your phone). Our main means of communication at Fontana Village and on the runs is via FRS portable radios. This is a proven and effective means of getting information out, but it can also become an annoyance. Unnecessary chatter and “drunk” calls can motivate folks to turn their radios off. When important information needs to get out, it can’t. We ask that all participants use some radio discipline and keep your announcements short and to the point. If you like to have a long conversation with another person or group, have everyone change to a different channel so you don’t hog the event’s communication channel. In addition, we have compiled a few tips about general radio etiquette:
When using your radio, press the PTT (Push to talk) button and hold for 3 or so seconds before you speak. Speak clearly and calmly at least 2 to 3 inches from the mic. on the radio. If you get closer, you may blare or come across garbled.
Additionally, if you do not wait the 3 or so second, you may cut off the first half of what you say making the message confusing.
DO NOT USE THE AUTOMATED CALL BUTTON! This causes a very loud and long audio page to come across every single radio within distance on that channel including your own to occur. It’s annoying and rude and can cause communication issues between others that could be important. This should ONLY be used in an emergency.
When using the radios to relay information, such as debris in the road or a LEO around a corner to be mindful of, be short and sweet with your statements. We do not want to hog the channel and or broadcast garbage that other people outside of our group pickup and disturb them.
Understand that we are in the mountains and reception can at times be very short distances, especially when we are actively driving on one of the runs such as The Dragon. In these cases, please help to relay back important information through the group. For example, if I was the leader and there was debris on the shoulder coming up, I would radio “Caution, debris right”. If you can hear this and are a few cars back from the front, please repeat it as those closer to the rear may not have heard me. The last thing we want is an easily avoidable obstacle to cause damage to someone’s car and ruin the rest of their weekend.
There are a lot of shortened words used to expedite communications, such as LEO = Law Enforcement Officer. Due to this, please plan to pay attention and learn these the first day or so you are here. It will help everyone to be on the same page to directly and efficiently communicate what needs said.
Damn, I hate it when I forget that!
In case you are wondering about what you should bring with you to the Gensport United’s Dragon run events, we have compiled a list of things that you might find useful. If you are logged in, the site will remember your list for up to 30 days and there is a link at the end of the list to create a PDF to print.