Last week I returned from one of the most unforgettable experiences of my lifetime: the Corsa America Dragon 800 Rally. From April 23-27, it was non-stop driving from Knoxville, Tennessee, to Orlando, Florida, with stops for rest and partying in between.
On Thursday, April 27, I departed from Clearwater, Florida, for Knoxville, Tennessee, where we would start our journey. Immediately after landing, we grouped up at the hotel and headed to the Tail of the Dragon. If you are unfamiliar with this span of roads, all you need to know is that is 11 miles of road with 318 curves and a breathtaking view.
After a quick stop to group up before the road trip started, we ventured through the treacherous road. To say I was taken aback by how gorgeous this road is is an understatement. Not only was the view out of this world, the turns were downright magical. The modified Lexus IS-F I drove in took the road’s sharp and sloping corners with ease. Once we rested our nerves at a gas station near the end of the road, we took a scenic route through the mountains back to the hotel. Having lived in Florida for most of my life, the sights of Tennessee were a breath of fresh air.
We stayed the night in Knoxville and promptly left Friday morning to officially start the rally. The 62 cars participating in the event left the hotel parking garage as an automotive orchestra, filling the city with the sounds of exhaust systems. With the cars grouped up, we once again drove through the 11 miles of continuous turns, and, once again, it was fantastic.
The participants then headed towards Helen, Georgia, for a bite to eat and before setting off for W Hotel in Midtown Atlanta. Sam Paper of Fast Lane Films and I grabbed a quick bite to eat at a local Mexican restaurant and then crossed the street for our VIP section at The Opera, also located in Midtown Atlanta. This was a great way to spend the first night of the rally, enjoying the company of others and really getting the chance to make new friends.
On Saturday morning, we left Atlanta after a storm-filled night for Hilton Head Island, South Carolina. Along the way, we stopped in Savannah, Georgia, for a luxurious lunch at the Chart House. The entire second floor of the restaurant was filled with the Corsa America participants and the talk of the rally thus far. When we made it to the Westin Hilton Head Island Resort, we all took a moment to relax by the beach and enjoy the company of others. Our relaxation was momentarily interrupted by an exciting lightning storm, but it wasn’t enough to dampen the spirits of everyone.
After a relaxing sleep, the longest leg of the rally was ahead of us. Just over 300 miles and two state lines separated us from Orlando, Florida. After driving on the road for about six hours with a healthy dose of scenic detours on backroads, the rally finally landed at its destination. The hotel for the night was the Ritz-Carlton Orlando, which was stunning inside and out. I took this time to relax by the pool and gather my thoughts from what was the most exciting road trip I had ever been on.
The next morning, we all got together for the awards ceremony, which included awards like Baddest Car, Bad-Luck, Best Design and Spirit of the Rally. Once awards were handed out, we all got together one last time for a group picture and then said our goodbyes.
To say this was just a road trip is not enough. I made new friends, experienced roads I’ve only dreamt about, stayed in luxurious hotels and was surrounded by exotic cars the entire time. I will tell you this: if you ever get a chance to partake in one of the rallies, take it. In fact, Corsa America has the Rally to Paradise coming up on June 12. Be sure to head over to CorsaAmerica.com for more information.
Gallery By Brandon Connelly
Gallery by SK Photography
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