Another long yet wholly satisfying day. We enjoyed our overnight in Lexington, VA, and hightailed it for Tennessee. As an aside, a shout-down to AT&T, which provide virtually no coverage at all today. Sure, it's understandable in the mountains and national parks, but we were in not tiny Tennessee cities and town which *showed* AT&T coverage, but zero data actually received or phone calls made. Grrrr.
Made it to Knoxville ("How 'bout dem Vols?"), where we were desperate for lunch. A google search turned up what was promised to be the best BBQ in Knoxville. Was it good? Yes. Dan said that it was the best smoked pork sandwich he'd ever eaten (the pork was thinly sliced, not pulled). The atmosphere was, uh, untraditional. There were padlocks on the soda refrigerators, the money Glenn put into the tip jar was immediately emptied, and all of the coin-op games had "not working" signs on them, as did the bathroom. When I walked in, the counter worker eyed me suspiciously, and asked me why I came in. I thought it was because of the cars we arrived in. No, she was just surprised because, as she put it, "no Chinese folks like BBQ. Never seen one come in to order before." Ah, back in the South!
While we were eating our sandwiches, fried okra, mac salad, baked beans and giant plate of rib bones, the owner rushed into the place. The cook had called him and said that a pair of Ferraris had pulled up. The owner didn't believe it, and came down to see for himself. "Now, I'm delighted you came, but what the heck are you doing in the ghetto?" "Sorry, did you say ghetto?" "Yup. This is the ghetto of Knoxville!" We told him that the food was fantastic, and we were glad that we braved the visit (we had no clue as to the neighborhood). The owner brought us a round of "Ghetto Tea, Sweet" on the house.
Scruggs Real Pit Barbecue, 1920 E Magnolia Ave, Knoxville, TN 37917-8024, (865) 524-4333
Unfortunately, the transporter with the McLaren was caught for longer in yesterday's torrential downpours, so couldn't catch up to us, which meant no unleashing of the McLaren F1 on the Tail of the Dragon. Undaunted, we proceeded to the Tail from the TN side. This is one of the most famous motorcycling roads in the Eastern US, with a campground/gas station at the base on the NC side. Hundreds of motorcycles, from sportbikes to touring rigs to fully chromed Harley Davidson beasts.
We ended up doing the Tail of the Dragon THREE TIMES, swapping seats. We met some great motorcyclists who followed us and shot some great videos on their hero cam, promising to post them here later. Read the upcoming magazine article for more details of this afternoon, including impressions of the cars, why there was smoke, and the impressions of the gathered motorcyclists. I will hint that the most dramatic impression that the Scuderia gives is that of sheer and utter violence. One simply cannot turn away from the shrieking sound, the blow of the mace the transmission makes on a full-demand upshift, and inhuman stopping power of the carbon brakes. Violence, indeed.
From there, we took the Cherahola Skyway west. 36 miles long (over 50 if you add in the bits at the start and end that are equally impressive), this will undoubtedly join the pantheon of great American roads.
As the clock was ticking, we were making a run for Nashville, when we passed a roadhouse bar. Seeking dinner and a beer, we slammed on the brakes, pulled a u-turn, and went in. We wanted to be as unobtrusive as possible, just eat and get out and back on the road, but it was not too be (shocking). Still, the wings and cheesesteaks were more than passable, longnecks were $1 on special today, and the locals were incredibly friendly - I shook hands with over a dozen of them, and we felt quite welcome, for such an odd collection of Northerners.
Dark now, we put the hammer down, cruising up Route 68 and flying west on I-40, doing 102 miles in an hour and 18 minutes. We're spending the night in Nashville.
What's up for tomorrow? Well, the mystery of the Bertone is revealed - really! And Dan and I are getting on a private jet back to New York in the morning.
Video shot from Ferrari 16M Scuderia convertible as it climbs Tail of the Dragon. Moron shooting it (me) can't find where mic is on little digital camera, so can't cover it up. So you hear a fair bit of wind noise, sorry. But it does give you a small taste of what the road is like. Stay tuned later in the week for full length, HD versions shot from the trailing 612 Scaglietti.