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The Sunburst 911 (and one 912) Driving Tour

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.

Porsche 912 Drive and Tour
The lone Porsche 912 among the sea of 911's | Sunburst Tour

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.

Porsche 993 Drive Tour
1998 Porsche 993 of Dennis and Linda | Sunburst Tour

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.

Porsche 911, Porsche 964, Porsche 911SC
The 911's of TD, Rob and Kim | Sunburst Driving Tour

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.

Sunburst Air-Cooled Porsche Driving Tour
The Sunburst Tour Drive Teams Ready to Roll

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...

Porsche 911 driving tour
The Porsche Carrera 3.2 of the Commander and Mark and Amy | Photo Claudia Graham

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.

Porsche 911, Porsche 964
Suburst Driving Tour Rest Stop at Little Canada Recreation Park

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.

Air-Cooled Porsche Driving Tour
Double Vision: Porsche 911's at Graveyard Fields on the Blue Ridge Parkway

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.

Porsche Driving Tour
The Many Porsche 911's and the 912 at John Rock Overlook on the BRP | Photo Claudia Graham

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

Porsche 912 and Porsche 911 Carrera
The Porsche 912 eyes the lead Porsche Carrera 3.2's | Photo David Linton
Porsche 911 Driving Tour
Taking a break at the Little Canada Recreation Park

Porsche 993 Driving Tour
Thomas and his 993 Cab drove Sweep for the Sunburst Driving Tour

Tags: Air Brigade Drive, Air Brigade Tour, Sunburst Tour

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