It was a Porsche 911 kind of day as nine air-cooled Porsche 911’s and one lone Porsche 356 drove The Big Laurel August Air Brigade drive.
Twelve air-cooled Porsches were scheduled to drive The Big Laurel but only ten made the start due mechanical issues. Most of these air-cooled Porsches are now over 40 years old so mechanical issues are not unknown.
The lone Porsche 914-6 scheduled to drive had transmission bushing problems and a ’78 911SC experienced a mysterious grinding noise on the way to the meet-up.
The 911’s making the drive included a full range of air-cooled Porsche 911’s including a ’72 911T Targa, a 911SC, several G-body 3.2’s, two 964’s, a 993 and the lone 1962 356 Coupe to represent the model that started it all for Porsche.
The day started in fog and gloom as we left Leicester and headed towards Marshall down Big Bear Creek Road. As we left the urban areas outside Asheville the fog lifted, the roads got curvy and the Air Brigade began to exercise the early air-cooled Porsches the way they were engineered to be driven.
The first leg to Brush Creek General Store was just the warm-up. The rest stop was early in the trip due to lack of facilities along the route. As it was it took the full 30-minute break for the entire line to make use of the “one-holer” that Brush Creek offered us for relief.
The second leg of the morning was the crème de la crème of the drive as we climbed up and over Lonesome Mountain and wound along Revere Road mountain ridge curves before descending down to follow Big Laurel Creek into Tennessee.
The Tennessee Welcome Center pictured here provided a scenic lunch spot for drivers and navigators as we rested the old air-cooled engines of these early Porsches.
The afternoon stint provided another 90 minutes of driving with a first time drive down 19 West that provides some great elevation changes with twists and turns before we met up with the Toe River and returned on roads we had driven earlier in the season but we were going the other way.
The drive always seems fresh and new when going the opposite way on the roads. The sights are new and different from this vantage point.
As the sky darkened and we approached Prices Creek General Store we lost several cars as tops needed to go up and there was a desire to explore Prices Creek General Store, a good old fashioned General Store offering everything from food to clothes to guns.
Six of us continued on towards the end destination in Weaverville but not without a stop to slap the Targa roofs on as the rain really let loose as we tore down the back roads of Burnsville and Mars Hill.
As we pulled into the stop point a plume of smoke billowed from the back of the Commander’s 1986 911 3.2. I had smelled and noticed this all day at every stop sign but a careful monitoring of the gauges showed pressure and temperature to be all right.
Charlie climbed under the car and suspected an oil drip onto the heat exchangers was the culprit. A quick oil level check showed levels were still good. Everyone had an opinion on what was leaking and what shop should fix it or not fix it, but my concern was just getting home at that point as we were still a good 24 miles from home.
I grabbed a fire extinguisher from Charlie and hit the road. A close monitoring of gauges and making sure that flames weren’t shooting out the back made for a long 24-mile drive but all ended well as I pulled in the driveway.
I think I will let the car sit for today and attack the problem tomorrow.
Twelve primary roads were driven of the 100 Greatest Roads in the area included:
Big Bear Creek Road
Lonesome Mountain Road
Big Laurel Road
Hunting Dale Road
Jack’s Creek Road
Prices Creek Road
Paint Fork Road
Beech Glen Road
Forks of Ivy Road
Tags: Air-cooled Porsche driving, Driving air-cooled Porsches, Driving Blue Ridge Mountains