2015 Dodge Viper GT: Driving the Tail of the Dragon
by Jason Kavanagh, Engineering Editor on September 2, 2015
By this, I mean that the monumental gravity of my wraparound cross-country voyage dwarfed all possible side trips in its wake. Destinations a hundred miles or so away suddenly seemed not nearly so far.
So it was that I ended up venturing to The Tail of the Dragon, an 11-mile winding stretch of tarmac on Route 129 in Robbinsville, North Carolina. 'Hey, it's only that far away!' I said to myself, looking at my route on the scale of the entire nation.
It was mid-afternoon by the time I reached The Dragon. A thousand degrees and eleventy billion percent humidity at the time, I picked up some bottled water at the kitschy shop located right at the base of the drive (shown above). There were all manner of Dragon sticker-festooned rides in the lot. The Dragon has something of a mystique surrounding it.
Hmm. I was starting to regret this. For me, overt fanboyism always tends to induce skepticism.
While I staged at a large turnout up the road to get the above photo, a C7 Corvette pulled in behind me. It was driven by a couple from Ohio. Their destination? The Dragon. They'd taken holiday specifically to drive their new C7 on this very road. Uh-oh. More fanboyism.
They had pulled over to wait for a break in traffic and to ask about the Viper. We chatted for a bit and then they took off up the road once there was a good, long spell of no cars. I finished my amateur photo shoot, buckled up and followed suit.
I caught up to the C7 after a few miles of traffic-free motoring. About halfway through the drive we came upon a battalion of Harleys. Slow-moving Harleys. Slow-moving Harleys that refused to use turnouts. And that was that. Brain-dead traffic is, unfortunately, one of the prices paid for popularity.
The Dragon is a good twisty road, with decent variety among its cambered and blind corners. I'm not sold on the hype surrounding it and I suspect there are many other roads in the area that are of similar topography, but with less traffic. Maybe I'm just spoiled by the plentiful spectacular canyon roads here in SoCal.
Still, if you're in the area of Robbinsville during an odd time — say, mid-morning on a weekday — check it out. Better yet, go exploring. Find your own Dragon.
Jason Kavanagh, Engineering Editor