MINIs on the Dragon 2008
So Many Captivating Curves
by Melissa Spiering
Images by the author, © 2008
I’ve heard stories from people who claim The Dragon as one of the best roads to let your inner-driver lose on. As a first timer to “MINIs On The Dragon” I’d have to agree. I drove over 2000 miles from Los Angeles, CA, to Fontana Dam, NC, to check it out for myself. Not only was this my first time on the 311 curves of U.S. Route 129, it was also my first time driving across the country. Crazy to most people, but it proved to be one hell-of-a-trip!
There are two big highlights to MOTD, the first is the road and the second belongs to the people. As with any enthusiast based event, it's the people who really make the experience the most fun. It’s great seeing license plates from all over the country come together just to hang out and have fun. I added California to that list and was welcomed with open arms to this East Coast event from strangers I only knew as screen names from various online MINI communities. The cabins that lined the Fontana Village Resort were sprinkled with Chile Red, Mellow Yellow, and other assorted candy colored MINIs and Minis. The village was overrun by our pint-sized asphalt chasers and it just seemed so right.
As a first timer I was excited to run The Dragon with over 400 other MINIs. I was up at the crack of dawn to chase the dragon with the other early birds who couldn’t get enough. Attendees of the 4-day event took part in several planned drives and parades that revealed amazing scenery and wildlife. We hiked on nearby trails, climbed through caves, took the off-beaten roads, sang by campfires and drove our MINIs like they were made to be driven. Nights where filled with fun as people mingled at annual parties like that “Mini Monte Carlo Night” and “Brew Swap.” There’s never a dull moment, and no time to spare for those who where having their MINIs enhanced with new goodies by the teams of venders on site.
I got in about twenty-two laps before we drove out of the Smoky Mountains for one last time. I was bummed to have to leave my friends behind after my week long stay and it was heart breaking to leave but an experience that will last for a lifetime.