Tail of the Dragon: Taking the ride of your life on N.C.-Tenn. border

If you’re not ready for the challenge, you can get burned

Recharge Rally takes on the Dragon

(WVLT/Gray News) – It’s called the Tail of the Dragon at Deals Gap – the roadway packs 318 curves into 11 miles of white-knuckle driving in the Great Smoky Mountains.

“Can you brave it?” the Tail of the Dragon website asks. “It’s best to be cautious as the turns are tight, but the Tail of the Dragon is guaranteed to be the ride of your life.”

Motorcycle and sports car enthusiasts love this section of U.S. Highway 129 along the North Carolina–Tennessee state line. It’s a popular destination from spring into the fall for those who like to test their skills.

This week, the Recharge Rally brought its super and exotic cars to ride the Dragon. The rally began in Cleveland on Tuesday, looped through the South and crosses the finish line in Pittsburgh on Sunday.

"Recharge Rally is basically a group of car enthusiasts that get together, and we go throughout the states," said Travis Albritton, one of the drivers. "We're going through the tail end of the Dragon to get some nice, twisty curves in to really test our cars out and just have fun."

The Dragon is so popular and challenging, the Blount County, Tenn., Rescue Squad has a web page dedicated to it. The roadway keeps them busy with “countless accidents.”

Key facts to keep in mind:

  • U.S. 129 averages 1,400 vehicles a day
  • The speed limit is 30 mph
  • If there’s an accident, the nearest hospitals are at least 50 miles away

For Jennifer Grierson, the Recharge Rally is her first, and the Dragon doesn’t intimidate her.

“I know my car really well, so I’m used to driving it," she said. “It’s just a lot of fun to put it through its paces.”

Just be careful when you ride the Dragon.

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