The Tail of the Dragon Is Famous for a Reason
Of all the great driving roads in America, U.S. Route 129 may stand alone as the most celebrated. Over nine miles, 300 corners of the Deal's Gap pass wind through Tennessee into North Carolina mark what is better known as the Tail of the Dragon. It has developed a cult following as a cathedral for cars, the sort of place you can spend years mastering. Think something in between a Los Angeles canyon and the climb up Pike's Peak.
In a video filmed by Red Bull last year, Scott Speed took the road on in a Subaru rallycross car. The clip illustrates just how complex the road can get at times, all in a 600 hp racing car designed to change direction and accelerate hard over anything else. Some sections are fast, some corners are tight, but they all flow naturally together over the course of the mountain pass. In a normal road car, these corners are a thrill; in a rallycross car at its limits driven by a professional, they are a challenge unlike any other.
Road & Track's upcoming Smoky 600 rally ends with an epic final day of road drives, including Deals Gap. It is the crescendo of a four-day trip, one that starts with track time at the NCM Motorsports Park and continues to wind through Kentucky and Tennessee's best hotels and distilleries. Applications are open today, so be prepared to experience the roads that make Appalachia such a celebrated place in car culture.
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