MotoringFile at MINIs on the Dragon

We’re a week away from the start of one of the year’s major perennial MINI events: MINIs on the Dragon. MF and WhiteRoofRadio will be there in force. I’ll be attending for the first time, meeting up with Todd and Chad for several days of MINI fun. There will likely be as many cars as there are corners and when the tire squeal dies down, the campfires will flare up. I can’t wait. I’ll be getting in Thursday night and staying through Sunday morning. Flag me down and say hello.

Now more on what the Dragon (MOTD) actually is. (video after the break)

The Full Run

Arguably the largest MINI event in the US not hosted by MINI USA, MOTD is unique in that it is centered around one road in a vastly rural area. But what a road it is. The Dragon (as it is known) is an 11 mile stretch of US 129 that starts in extreme eastern Tennessee and turns 318 times before it ends in western North Carolina. To put it mildly it is arguably the best stretch of road in North America. With it’s inspiring layout and excellent banking, the Dragon is a rare road in that it has almost a magical rhythm do it. And in early May MINI’s take over the entire thing

With many hundreds registered (and many others sneaking in) MINIs on the Dragon (MOTD) is arguably the largest US MINI event outside of MINI USA’s MINI United. It’s also our favorite here at MF. Why? Because it’s all about driving the best road in North America. Everything else (no matter how good) is secondary to the road and the driving experience. Which begs the question, are you going? You can register and find more information below.

The Way Down (Chicago to MOTD)

+ MINI’s On the Dragon / Event Site

+ Road Site / 129 Website

+ Wikipedia Dragon Entry / Wikpedia

Post photo courtesy of MotoringFile frequenter blalor.

  • Scott Purvis

    This will be my third MOTD and trust me, you’re going to have a blast. If I only had one vacation a year, THIS would be it. I’ll be there with my club, North Coast Coopers from Cleveland OH. I hope to meet you!

    Scott Purvis

  • RB

    Nathaniel stop by our TwistyBitz tent and say hello, Robert

  • Anonymous

    Looks like a blast. I wish I could go. (There’s always next year I suppose.)

    Also, “arguably” is one of my least favorite weasel words and you used it twice in the same paragraph. 🙂

  • b-

    No MotoringFile Countryman at the Dragon, too bad. That is something I would LOVE to have read. Nathanial, make sure you guys drive one on a Dragon run a few times and let us know how it performs! Have fun!

    • That was the plan but alas the production was moved back due to demand.

      • Alpinamike

        The wait has to be the hardest part of ownership!

  • Sounds like an awesome weekend! Have fun all!

  • Harry Dill

    Regrettably,I must enter this glorious event into my good times “woulda, shoulda, coulda” diary of missed events.

  • m8o

    Question for curiosity’s sake …. what’s the POSTED speed limit on that stretch of 129?

    What comes to mind is the recent Top Gear Christmas Special where they visited USA for a so-called “greatest road in the world” and were treated to 35mph ‘legal limits’, and left quite disappointed. So, just curious.

    • Anonymous

      The speed limit is 35mph. That said, many of the 318 curves are tight enough to have a lot of fun even if you stick to the speed limit.

      • m8o

        Thanx much.

        • Edgedc

          News flash… since last year’s MOTD, they’ve lowered the speed limit on the Dragon to 30mph (I just drove it this evening, en route to Fontana Village). Darn Smokeys want more tickets, I guess. 🙁

  • Josephlmontante

    Make sure to hook up with the PhillyMINI contingent…

  • ql

    There is another road in North America that would challenge your statement about the Dragon,it’s in Northern California.State 36 from Red Bluff to Fortuna is over 100 miles of road with some serious curves.Are their more than 318 curves I don’t know,to busy grinning.Q

    • Anonymous

      Well, I would HOPE it has more than 318 curves since at >100 miles long, it’s 10 times longer than the Dragon.

    • Edgedc

      Those of you who compare the Dragon to other roads without actually driving it just can’t understand. Look at it this way… never mind how many actual curves (number) or how long (miles) it is… how many curves per mile are we talking about? The Tail of the Dragon averages over 28 turns per mile, with no cross-streets or residential zones. That’s what makes it so special. Even at (or slightly over) the speed limit, the road is a blast to drive.

      • m8o

        I can believe all that, and hope I get to drive it one day (though I’d probably have the wifie and 3 dogs in the car w/me and two bikes hanging off a back @ the time). hahaha

        So how often do you find there are trucks, or drivers who think anything above 0.5 Gs in the turns will result in the car suddenly flipping over, driving the road and spoiling the fun?

        • Edgedc

          Well, it varies wildly, and time of day matters too (the road is MUCH quieter in the mornings). Also, at MOTD, there is a wide range of driver talent in MINI owners too… I’ve been frustrated by several going (much!) slower than I’d like before. There are occasional pullovers on the side of the Dragon – the courteous thing for people to do is use those pullovers to let faster vehicles go by. Sometimes people just won’t do that though. The solution in that case is for you to stop at a pullover and simply wait 5-10 minutes.

          The thing about the Dragon though, is that it’s fun both ways – so if you have a “slow” run behind someone frustrating, one way… just turn around at the end and go back again! Rinse and repeat. You could really consider the Dragon to be a loop, with rest points at each end. It really does feel quite different driving it in the opposite direction. 🙂

  • Anonymous

    I think you have the wrong link there for wikipedia. Try:

  • Anonymous

    I need Xiek to make me a cardboard cut out as well so I can be there!! Have fun! I’m looking forward to the pictures