Chasing the Dream: The car writer road trip

There are so few people I’ve met that knew what they wanted to do with their lives from an early age. We all have dreams that usually involve stardom in some form but those are fraught with a narrow window of opportunity or become out of reach for a variety of reasons.

HotWheelsMy fascination with cars began early with a collection of Hot Wheels and Matchbox toys. I still find it amusing how these old toys can command such prices as antiques and collector items, with the value going ever higher if they remain in their original packaging.

Original packaging? Surely you jest! That toy was out of that cardboard and plastic before it ever got home. Collector items? I don’t think mine would be of any great value because they ran countless miles across road courses carved from dirt, marked with chalk on concrete, and taped off on hardwood floors.


I loved watching racing on television, and while NASCAR was fast growing in popularity, I craved the winged warriors of Can-Am and the sports cars that stormed Le Mans. I still recall seeing the Steve McQueen film on one of our family movie nights at the drive-in. I was twelve years old, but the Porsche 917 was one of the most beautiful things I’d ever laid eyes on.


The passion for cars has stayed with me through the years, but it wasn’t until much later that the interest in writing took hold. I’d been a long-time reader of car magazines, and they were responsible for sparking the drive to learn more, both about the machines I was driving and the entertaining way that information was presented.


By the time I began to follow certain automotive journalists, I already had kids and was on a job with benefits that wasn’t so easy to walk away from. I’m not alone in that bucket because I’ve met a great many people who have talent far beyond what they do for a living, and that’s a shame. If I could make the jump to automotive journalist tomorrow I’m sure I’d enjoy the change, but in the meantime I’ll indulge myself here.

To test cars, visit interesting locations, storm track days, and write about the results sounds like it could be time demanding but seldom boring. With a mindset of getting my feet wet, I have some vacation time coming up and decided to venture out and document my own road trip test.

My ride of choice will be my 2011 Chrysler 200 Touring Convertible. While my self-created Roadrunner is more cruiser than serious sports car, it’s more than a paper tiger as it packs 300hp from its 6cyl engine, wider wheels and tires, and drilled/slotted brakes with ceramic pads. I won’t be spanking Mustangs or Camaros, but the car has an above average fun factor which I got a taste of on three laps of Watkins Glen.


My destination for this outing is Great Smoky Mountain National Park and the legendary road that carves it way through Deal’s Gap known as Tail of the Dragon. A headrest-mounted GoPro-type action camera should provide some good video and hopefully the weather will cooperate for some lovely summer scenery along the way. This is the kind of roads and landscape convertibles were born to roam and I’m sure the Roadrunner will earn its stripes.


Departure is planned for Sunday, July 12th 2015, so check back here for updates as I go and hopefully I can entertain you along the way.

– T. August Green

(Update) The Dragon road trip is temporarily postponed due to bad weather in the Smoky Mountain region. Between weather reports and time off from work will determine my next attempt, hopefully in the next couple of months.

More info to follow.


One comment

  1. I accidentally ended up on route 32 in the Smokey Mountains. It wasn’t fun as I ended up feeling carsick in a minivan and after the 25th hairpin turn, we lost the thrill. There are approximately 120+ turns in 16 miles, and the last few miles are gravel road. When we hit gravel, we panicked and almost turned back, but the thought of doing all those turns again, kept us moving onward in hopes of finding route 40 eventually, which we did. I’m looking forward to hearing about your trip through dragon tail.

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