Updated: Apr 24, 2021
At the picnic stop, Mark commented to me that this was the first time an Air Brigade drive was all 911’s. There were none of the 356’s or 914’s on this drive.
It was only when I started to write this that I realized it wasn’t quite true; we had the Graham’s trusty 912 with its powerful 4-cylinder engine pushing the flat-sixes of the 911’s under the deft driving of momentum driver, Peter.
As 993 driver Dennis commented: “I have twice the horsepower, but through the twisties, I can’t keep up with him.” It is all about momentum through the corners in the small horsepower cars, but give the 993 a little straightaway and the 4-cylinder 912 doesn’t stand a chance.
The Sunburst Run was originally planned for 14 Air-Cooled Porsches with a 90-minute drive up and over Wolf Mountain via Silversteen Road before a break at the Little Canada Recreation Park. The leg after the rest stop would be attacking the treacherous NC-215 curves that have provided danger on recent drives with the rain, gravel and sharp turns.
As the April 21, 2021 drive drew closer, the 14 Porsches and their driving teams dwindled due to car issues, every day schedules and life. By the start at the Bear Tracks Travel Center in Lake Toxaway, we were down to 10 driving teams in an assortment of 911’s from David and Suzie’s 1979 911SC up to the newest Air-Cooled Porsche and members, Dennis and Linda in their 1998 Porsche 993 wide body. G-body 911’s dominated with six G-bodies (1978 -1989), one 964 and two 993’s. And, not to be forgotten, there was the lone 912 of the Grahams from 1968. Maybe at the May drive, the 356’s and 914’s will come back out to play.
We were nearly down to nine cars at the start as Mark and Amy shot pass the start at Bear Tracks honking at the Commander as they thought the start was further down the road. After a “discussion ensued” in their Carrera 3.2, they returned to where the Commander had been parked at Bear Tracks. Soon the other eight driving teams arrived and we all welcomed Allen and Bev back from Florida and Dennis and Linda back to the group after a Covid hiatus.
The first leg of the drive took the cars up Silversteen Road in a vision reminiscent of a Conga Line as the cars bobbed and weaved along the twisty road. At the rest stop Allen commented what a great rhythm had been established by the line as we went left, right, right, left and on...
The Little Canada Recreation Park provided our first stop 45 minutes into the drive where we had clean facilities and wide open parking for our 10 Porsches.
After 25 minutes of socializing and enjoying the stop, the Commander called that it was time to “saddle up”, but then just at that moment a white Macan Turbo pulled into the parking lot with fellow PCA member David Stori behind the wheel.
David was scouting the same route for a Friday drive group he was running but he was driving the opposite direction, starting in Waynesville and driving to Brevard.
We were lucky that David saw us as he alerted us to the fact that NC-215 was closed north of the Parkway due to a power line across the road. A new route was designed “on-the-fly” where we would drive NC-215 up to the Blue Ridge Parkway (BRP) and then go to Graveyard Fields for a picnic and use of their facilities.
We drivers in the Asheville area often take the Parkway for granted and forget what a beautiful drive it is. As we wound down the Parkway towards Graveyard Fields, we were early in the season, pre-tourists and had a clear run with clear skies that provided fabulous vistas as we traversed the BRP.
The surprise at Graveyard Fields was the cold, bitter wind in this exposed bluff at 5,020’. A picnic here was out of the question. Peter and Claudia in the trusty 912 went out as the scout car and found a picnic area sheltered among the pines with lots of parking.
The ten cars, loaded up again for a short drive down to the John Rock Overlook that has several picnic tables and a slightly warmer, sheltered cove that gave us a spot to circle up camp chairs to enjoy conversation while we ate our picnic lunch.
Compared to Graveyard Fields it was warmer, but by the end of lunch everyone was ready to retreat to the warmth of their Porsches and head for home.
Two drive groups were split, the Commander leading the Asheville contingent down the Parkway for Arden and Fairview and TD and Kathleen leading the Hendersonville group down the Parkway for a drive down 276 on the way home.
So you say, why was this called the Sunburst Run when nothing on the drive was related to the sun or a Sunburst?
Well, we originally were going to picnic in the Pisgah National Forest at the Sunburst Picnic Grounds so the drive’s name was taken from our ultimate destination. Due to the road closure, we never saw Sunburst, but we improvised and as David said: “This drive was a great mix of tight turns during the first leg with the sweeping vistas of the Blue Ridge Parkway to take us home.”
Sometimes improvisation provides for the best result. See you in May!
Several Other Photos to Enjoy from the Sunburst Driving Tour - April 21, 2021
Tags: Air Brigade Drive, Air Brigade Tour, Sunburst Tour