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Archive for May, 2007

He’s Changing His Number!

by on May.11, 2007, under Richard Bingle

Dale Earnhardt Jr. recently announced that he was going to leave the race team that his father started, Dale Earnhardt Incorporated after the 2007 season. It will be interesting to see where he ends up (Gibbs, Hendricks, Childress?), but the only thing I could think of was the commercial he had starred in a year or two back where he makes an announcement that he’s changing his number to 6.7 and it shows fans with huge 8’s painted on their garage doors, 8 topiarys, etc. freaking out (including taking a chainsaw to the topiary). In the end he says he’s just kidding and it shows a guy getting a 6.7 tattoo. Well, life imitates art. DEI “owns” the number and it is almost certain Junior will have to change his number. All those fans with rooms full of ‘8’ merchandise will have to go out and buy all new stuff.

It would be great if NASCAR let him race the 6.7 car…

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The Dragon

by on May.09, 2007, under Richard Bingle

I recently spent a few days up in Robbinsville, North Carolina hanging out with some guys that I know through work (DJ, Kevin, and Jose). The other guys all either rode or trailered their motorcycles up there to spend some time riding through the mountains. The two highlights were the Cherohola Highway and a section of U.S. 129 called “The Dragon”. The Dragon is an 11 mile stretch of U.S. highway that contains a whopping 318 curves and is very popular with bikers. Since I don’t own (or ride) a motorcycle, I took my 2006 Mazda MX-5 Miata instead. Wow! It is amazing how different driving that car over twisty hilly terain is than driving it around town here in Florida. I ended up driving The Dragon four times (up and back) during my stay.

When I arrived on Wednesday, part of the group was just returning from a ride and were getting a bit saddle sore from their riding the previous two days, so weren’t too interested in riding over to The Dragon. However, I was able to convince Kevin to ride over there with me in my car and ride shotgun with me on my first experience on The Dragon. That first trip was probably the most “eventful” of all of them. On the way over from the cabin, we were nearly run off the road by a group of dump trucks coming the other way. While the first couple were on their side of the road coming around a corner, the last two were definitely over the center line. Once we got to the bottom of The Dragon at Deal’s Gap, North Carolina we started up the mountain taking it kinda easy. Things were going fine and I soon had a good feel for how the car handled on the twisty road. Good thing, as a couple miles in we encountered an 18 wheeler coming the other way. Now, these corners are way to tight to be driving something that big through, but every now and then a trucker finds himself on The Dragon and there really is no point to stop and turn around, so they have to keep going. The problem is the trailers behind the trucks often end up in the wrong lane as the truck winds its way through the turns. We were about to enter a blind right hander (with the mountain going up on the right next to us) when the cab of a truck came around the corner (in his lane) coming at us. I knew immediately that the trailer would be at least partially in my lane and that there was no time to stop before the corner and the longer it took to get through the corner the more the trailer would encroach into my lane, so I took the corner, saw where the trailer was and hugged the edge of the pavement as we rounded the corner. Safe! The second close call happened about 5 miles further up when a motorcycle decided he needed to pass the car ahead of him and came around a blind corner in our lane, goosed it, and barely cleared both cars as he crossed the double yellow line back into his lane. I was busy trying to move us as far to the right as possible while staying on the road and avoiding a large tree that was right next to the road, but Kevin claims the bike missed us by just inches.

I ended up driving The Dragon three more times on Friday. Jose and I went over in the morning and we rode it twice. Late that afternoon, after taking a nice drive over the Cherohola and back, Kevin and I went over to check out the bikes that had started arriving for the weekend and ended up taming The Dragon one final time.

Overall, I’m glad I went. I learned a lot about how my MX-5 handles and gained a lot of confidence in it.

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