About Bob

Beagles & Bikes, two of my favorite things. Beagles are cool (we have two). Snoopy is the coolest beagle, and Joe Cool is the Steve McQueen of beagles. He just exudes cool. But my passion - traveling locally, regionally and anywhere in the country by motorbike, takes the cake. There is no better way to see the sights, smell the smells, and immerse oneself in the ways of life of the different areas you travel through. People approach you out of genuine curiosity: Where are you from? Where are you going? How long have you been traveling? Why a motorbike? By motorbike, people open up, invite you into their lives. Sports cars, particularly convertible Roadsters, generate the same kind of curiosity. And if The Beagles come along in their own sidecar, or convertible sports car, tails wagging and goggles and scarves billowing in the breeze,what conversations do you think would ensue........?

A CLASSIC INDEPENDENCE DAY

What is more American than Classic Cars? Not much if you are an automobile enthusiast. American Muscle and America’s sports car. Big, bodacious, and outrageous land yachts from the 1950’s and ’60’s. Hot Rods and Rat Rods. Sedans from the 1940’s that weigh as much as a tank. Steel is real, man. It’s All-American, and we feasted our eyes on these machines from the past in Brevard, North Carolina, July 4th, 2019 America’s Independence Day.

America’s Sports Car

No matter what generation of Corvette you see coming down the road, it’s a showstopper.

Show me your muscle!

The All-American.

Sit down, shut up, HOLD ON!

A new take on an old car. Hot Rod American style.

Think the cabin in your SUV is big?

Whoa! How would you like to see that in your rear view running up on your plastic bumper?

Boop-a-Doop

See ya!

HAPPY BIRTHDAY AMERICA!

 

Speed and Adrenaline: MX5 Miatas at Bristol Motor Speedway! Zoom Zoom!

THE INTIMIDATOR

BRISTOL MOTOR SPEEDWAY. BRISTOL, TENNESSEE

  • Third largest sports venue in America
  • Seventh largest in the world
  • Holds up to 162,000 people!
  • Banking on curves is 26 to 30 degrees!
  • Track is a mere one-half mile in length.

Despite it’s short length, Bristol Motor Speedway is one of the most popular tracks on the Nascar circuit because of it’s distinct features: extraordinary steep banking, all concrete surface, two pit roads, and stadium style seating. So here we are, a whole gaggle of smiley faced sports cars, getting ready to do battle with the Intimidator, in a stadium known as the Last Great Colosseum.

We had a police escort right to the front door.

Then it was on to the “garage”

Once in the garage, each car had to stop and check in

Exiting the garage is a super steep drop down to pit lane and the track. Cars are required to wait until the car in front is down the slope and in pit lane.

Once on the track, we did a parade lap back into pit lane to line up in our respective track groups.

All lined up and ready to go……….but Mother Nature had other plans.

Three-thirty in the afternoon and all the cars are lined up and ready for some hot laps on this all left turns Nascar track. But it was raining. Everything was put on hold as we all gathered in the media building to wait out the rain. BMS staff took out their track drying equipment to no avail. At the staffs recommendation, some of our group got behind the Pace car to try and use engine and tire heat to dry the track sufficiently.     Uh-uh.

By now it was six PM, and the BMS track officials were talking to our group leaders. It looked like we were going to be relegated to doing parade laps or nothing at all.

But then, Divine Intervention! As if the racing gods felt our plight, the rain stopped, the clouds parted, the suns rays beamed down onto the track, drying it in minutes. Thumbs up from the track officials and we were a go!

The racing gods smile on Miatas!

“Matchbox” is all smiles and rarin’ to go!

The first group out was the beginner group. This is the group we were in. No matter what your previous track experience on other tracks, if it is the first time on this track, you are automatically put in this group. Fine with me. We followed an official Nascar Pace Car ( a super trick Camaro) that set the max speed for each group. Ours was set at 75 MPH. The pace car could adjust the speed faster or slower depending how the group was driving. Seventy-five doesn’t seem that fast, until you’re doing it on banked curves that make you feel like you will drop right out of the car!

The Pace Car

The pace car took us on two progressively faster parade laps to familiarize ourselves with the track and banking, then led us back into pit lane. At this point anyone who wanted to bail was able, and passengers who thought we were just idiots for doing this, could also flee the scene. Roo exited reluctantly, only because she gets a bit of vertigo. Besides, she was the track photographer for me.

Here we go! Me and “Matchbox” on the move! Zoom Zoom! (photos by Roo)

The Last Great Colosseum

This place really does resemble a Roman Colosseum. I am told the noise here is incredible during a race. It also boasts the highest number of bumps and collisions of any track in the country due to its short length, steep banking and high speeds. A modern day venue for 21st century gladiators.

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What a day. Autocross in the morning, track laps in the afternoon. Mother nature gave us a pass. Running hot laps on this track was a bit nerve racking, exhilarating, and yes, intimidating. I am not a Nascar fan, preferring road courses like Indy Car, Road Atlanta, Moto GP, Isle of Man TT, Laguna Seca, etc. However, I drove away with a new appreciation for what these guys do on this track. I can’t even imagine doing 200 MPH on this track, or any track for that matter, with 30 other cars doing 200 MPH trying to pass you! Wow!

We all headed back to downtown Bristol for some food, a beer or two, and re-hash the days adventures.

A cool place to park it in Downtown Bristol

This was our first time at this MX5 event, and it is a keeper. It’s on the calendar for 2020. If you own a MX5 Miata, come join us next year. You won’t be disappointed.

 

 

 

 

 

You Say It’s Your Birthday? Thirty Years of Mazda’s MX-5 Miata!

HAPPY BIRTHDAY, BABY!

Our 2003 NB2 Miata

Thirty years ago, in 1989, Mazda introduced to the world the new MX-5 Miata, the two seat convertible roadster that re-invigorated the sports car genre for the common man and woman. Today, the MX-5 is going stronger than ever, with gatherings of Miataphiles all over the world to celebrate the 30th birthday of this happy little roadster.

So here we are, Roo and I, in Bristol, Tennessee, at an event dubbed Zoomin’ the Mountains of East Tennessee to take part in the MX-5 birthday bash.

This five day event is everything Miata. Daily drives to different and interesting venues, car shopping (looking at other folks MX-5’s and seeing what mods they did), vendors on hand plying their Miata wares and, as the event organizer put it, “we’re gonna party like rednecks!” all week. We were afraid to ask.

On the downside, it rained all day, every day. But that didn’t dampen the spirits of the attendees, and it certainly didn’t stop the spirited driving we did in our groups on the beautiful, twisty back roads of East Tennessee and Virginia. No drop top driving on this trip.

We drove to Breaks Interstate Park in Kentucky and Virginia, Abington Vineyards in Virginia, Johnson City, TN and downtown Bristol, which straddles the Tennessee and Virginia state line. The crown jewel of the trip was spending a day at Bristol Motor Speedway doing autocross and hot laps on the track. What a rush! Read the next post for a rundown on that. Here are a few photos from the venues we visited.

MX-5 HEAVEN IN THE PARKING LOT

BREAKS INTERSTATE PARK

Breaks is a state park overseen by both the states of Virginia and Kentucky. Known as the Grand Canyon of the South, the gorge is beautiful, when you can see it! The thick foliage at this time of year pretty much obscures it unless you take a long, difficult hike down (and back up) the gorge.

ABINGTON VINEYARDS

Abington Vineyards is a small Virginia winery that makes wonderful, off the beaten track wines from hybrid grapes that grow in this difficult to grow climate of southwest Virginia. You won’t find the standard Pinots, Cabs and Chardonnays here (those grapes can’t grow in this climate), but instead a variety of delicious hybrid whites, reds, and even a to die for brandy port! The grounds are beautiful, the hosts are wonderful, and they give a great winery tour and tasting of four wines for eight bucks!

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The roads here in East Tennessee and southwest Virginia are tailor made for sports cars and motorcycles; twisty, curvy mountain back roads that just keep a shit eating grin on your face! But one road in particular has you grinning with a healthy dose of nervousness, a place called The Intimidator. And we were to find out just how intimidating it is.

Zoom zoom!

Next Post: Redlining on The Intimidator. Miatas invade Bristol Motor Speedway

On Cars & Motorcycles & Coffee…….A Pictorial of sorts.

The weather over Memorial Day weekend was perfect for my hometowns monthly Cars & Coffee gathering in Greenville, South Carolina. Just like The Meltdown Vintage Motorcycle show that we rave about each year, our monthly Cars & Coffee is a great grass roots petrol fest of two and four wheels. People of all ages; Millenials, Geezers, Hipsters, Gen X,Y&Z, small kids, big kids, dogs…..all coming out to see, smell, and hear the sound of internal combustion engines housed in all kinds of sheet metal skin. As the temps are starting to get quite a bit warm, the usually large canine contingent was noticeably under represented this day.

So, enough words. Here are some of the more interesting, aesthetic, weird, freaky and WTF cars and bikes we came across. Enjoy!

Motorbikes had a good turnout

Modern and Vintage. It was all here.

A Thing? C’mon. Everyone remembers VW’s Thing. Soooo ugly it’s beautiful! And you too, can have this one.

A Cornucopia of really beautiful, really fast cars. Check out the kid, already pointing out the attributes of a Ferrari to his dad.

The French Invasion: a weird little car is this Citroen

The weirdness continues……………..

In the market for a beautiful, upscale, Italian Roadster? Alfa Romeo 4C. Where do I sign?

Back to the Bikes

You want patina? This guy’s got patina. Used to be called rust.

We’ll end with the freak in the room……………. WTF?

 

 

Land of the Noonday Sun

Nantahala. Cherokee language translated as land of the noonday sun. And that is quite precisely the only time that the Nantahala Gorge sees any sunshine, that small window of yellow light as the sun climbs over the easterly mountains to its zenith, and then immediately begins its westward descent, and the gorge is once again enveloped in shadow.

I was just up the mountain in Western North Carolina, attending the 10th annual Honda NC700 owners gathering at the Kickstand Lodge, a great place to moto camp or rent cabins when in the area. It is located in Stecoah, North Carolina, in the middle of nowhere between Robbinsville and Bryson City.

Kickstand Lodge

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The grounds are beautiful, the staff very friendly, and of course, there is a camp dog. Newly acquired at only four months old, this is Jo-Jo, a chocolate Lab. She loves belly rubs, and yes, that is my hand she is using as a chew toy!

Jo-Jo

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My riding this weekend would have me on two fantastic motorcycling roads: Wayah Road, accessed from the Nantahala Gorge, and the Cherohala Skyway, an indescribable twisty, 50+ miles one way from Robbinsville, North Carolina to the little hamlet of Tellico Plains, Tennessee. It had been years since I had ridden either of these roads. I was pumped. Both are very scenic, and, as I was zoned in on the curves on the Cherohala, I neglected to stop and take photos! Here are a few from Wayah Road:

Wayah Road begins its ascent up to Wayah Bald, where a hard pack dirt road and short hike will take you to the summit. I elected to forego the summit, having been there before. I was getting hungry, and Franklin, North Carolina was at the end of the road. So was lunch. The descent into Franklin is a nice twisty two lane, but caution is advised, as the in and out of sunlight plays tricks with your eyes and a crucial curve may be missed. How those Isle of Man TT guys do it I’ll never know. Finally pulling into Franklin and searching for a parking space on Main Street, I came upon this:

A car show!

As much a car guy as motorcyclist, this was a moto weekend, and I was hungry, so I passed the car show by.

Back in the saddle and onward to Tennessee via the Cherohala Skyway. As mentioned previously, no photos: I was in such a sweet spot winding through the Skyways curves that I didn’t want to stop and break the spell. What a fantastic road.

It was a long day in the saddle on curvaceous mountain roads. Seven hours and 230 miles later I was back at Kickstand Lodge and sufficiently tired. A shower, a couple of beers and dinner with the guys put a great cap on the day. Oh, and we found the true location of Sasquatch.

If you’re ever in the middle of Nowhere, North Carolina, check out these roads. And stop in at KSL and say hey to Jo-Jo (don’ forget the belly rub!).