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Driving The Rattler

Air Brigade was born out of driving your air-cooled Porsche so let’s talk driving. Monday was one of those beautiful winter days in the North Carolina Mountains that felt like summer. The forecast was 70 degrees. That means no worry of black ice, snow or closed roads.

The call went out about a week ahead to about eight drivers knowing that with everyone’s schedule the drive would have four or five, the ideal to carve the curves. The final count was five in a variety of Porsches.

Even with a forecast of 70, the mountain roads can be unpredictable so the planned route was kept at low elevation roads. The core road that would make up the ride would be The Rattler, NC-209 to Hot Springs, North Carolina, a quaint stop over town on the Appalachian Trail. In our case it would be the Porsche Mountain Stopover as our planned lunch break.

The Rattler claim to fame is 234 twists over 24 miles. We all know the Tail of the Dragon but drivers and riders have identified a whole series of “Snake” roads in Western North Carolina, Tennessee and Virginia. This is just one of them.

The easy way to The Rattler, but the boring way is down I-40 from Asheville or Knoxville. A Porsche demands a challenge so maps were studied and a route was patched together from bits of roads that had been explored before or told were good ones to drive.

It was a mid-morning start from Porsche Asheville as we headed out of town up Leicester Highway 63 to North Turkey Creek Road. This road was a new road for us though it is listed as an option on the America Rides maps. And it delivered, as it was full of twists and turns driving the foothills.

A given driving the foothills and farm pasture roads are tractors and pick-ups. It requires heads-up driving as we sweep around the hidden curves and sure enough we came across a beater pick-up traversing our chosen route but without the same agenda. Sometimes they notice a line of five Porsches and pull over and other times they don’t care. This was an “I don’t care driver” so we suffered along up to our left turn onto Willow Creek Road where we immediately picked up a tractor driving between fields. We were lucky here as we had a short straight stretch with no on-coming traffic so the acceleration of our line of Porsches shot us safely by the tractor.

The road was new for us and a blast with highly technical driving of tight twists and turns down and up and off camber and on camber. Turkey Creek Road to Willow Creek to Beaverdam road was a new route discovery that made the day worth it.

We popped out in Canton and charged across Crabtree Mountain Road to The Rattler. Crabtree Mountain Road is another series of tight twists downhill that challenges with staying in the lane while negotiating blind turns with picking up speed from the downhill momentum. The line spread out along this stretch as everyone drove their ability and their car’s ability.

Once we entered The Rattler we headed our way to Hot Springs on a higher speed road of sweepers inter-mixed with short straights. One short straight provided the excitement for the day as we came upon one the many pick-up trucks encountered.

We were driving respectfully and safe but sometimes a line of Porsches just set people off. As the lead I was the first to pull out to pass the pick-up and to my surprise he pulled over in the left lane to block me. Nothing had happened to provoke the driver so this was quite a surprise. The next opening I was ready and had the advantage of Porsche power and shot by him. It was a long dotted line straightaway so Porsche number two pulled out and the pickup driver decided he was going to be surprised this time and start speeding up to not allow the Porsche in the left lane to get by him. Porsches at the top end go and this was proven to the pickup one Porsche after another as the driver tried to thwart or fun for the day by being a jerk. Not sure what set him off but it provided for excited talk as we exited our Porsches at the break spot of the Trust General Store in Trust, North Carolina at the intersection of NC-209 and NC-63, another great road in the Asheville area.

After the break, our line continued up The Rattler for lunch in Hot Springs at The Iron Horse Station before a return home along NC-251 for a scenic drive along the French Broad River back to Asheville.

Tags: The Rattler, Porsche Driving, Driving The Rattler in Porsche

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