Dragon’s Lair

Gripping Roads

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Gripping Roads takes iconic cars through the winding roads that driving enthusiasts are sure to fall in love with THE TAIL of the Dragon is not a drive to be taken lightly; few roads maintain a regularly updated ‘Death Map’. In less than 18km, the Dragon features 318 undulating curves to create the American Southwest’s very own Stelvio Pass.

It’s bordered by the picturesque Great Smoky Mountains and Cherokee National Park, but guides warn drivers of the folly of taking in the scenery.

Curves are fired at the driver with machine-gun pace. The racing line is forbidden and sticking to the lane through constant corkscrews is a matter of life and death. With 318 separate corners, it is critical to downshift and not over-brake.

Heading to the Dragon on a weekday provides a greater chance of a clear run, as weekends attract driving enthusiasts of all kinds.

BMW’s E30 M3 Sport Evolution is the ride chosen to tame the Dragon. A visceral and analogue vehicle, the M3 is rawness refined.

Limited to a run of just 600, the late-model Sport Evolution M3 is defined by purpose.

The stroked 175kW engine, jet black paint-job with red bumper stripes, along with thin glass, lightweight panels, and lack of power windows, sunroof and air conditioning, proves the purpose is performance.

The suede M-Technic II steering and are free ing wheel pedals ree of computer interference, while ESC, TCS, ABS and other nannies are controlled by driver reflexes, not buttons.

The Bimmer is fitted with lightweight aftermarket 16 x 9.0-inch wheels and motorsport-inspired 245/45R16 Toyo Proxes R1Rs, improving grip in wet and dry conditions.

Lashing through corners like the Pearly Gates, Brake or Bust Bend, Beginner’s End and Little Whip, the intensity of the drive means it’s nearly over before it even begins.

Remember first attempts are fraught with nerves, so guides recommend several attempts before you can properly claim y pp y to have taken a ride on the Tail of the Dragon.

Car of choice

BMW E30 M3 Sport Evolution

In ’89-’90, BMW produced only 600 of these 2467cc, 175kW collectables. Also known as the Evolution III, it has a top speed of 248km/h – 200km/h more than the Dragon’s limit.

Tail of the Dragon

Deals Gap mountain pass, on the North Carolina/ Tennessee border, is driving Mecca. Speed limit on the Dragon is limited to 48km/h.

Toyo’s tyre of choice

Proxes R1R

You may recognise the R1R as the tyre used for the Toyo Drift Australia series.

The motorsport-inspired performance tyre is perfectly set up for corner carving. th D m perform u