Chasing the Dragon Hillclimb gets a new surface for 2012
When SCCA CCR officials first met with Graham County about the possibility of holding a hillclimb, it was obvious there was a lot of potential. A city in need of tourism. A 4.2 mile dead end road on the edge of the Joyce Kilmer Forest…. guard rails all the way to the top. The first meeting at that site was with Cheri and Joe from Graham County Travel & Tourism and Darryl and Lori of www.killboy.com on April 9, 2011 (pictured below) . That was the beginning of a great relationship! Two months later, the Chasing the Dragon Hillclimb became a reality and brought over 1200 spectators, race crew and event workers to the Robbinsville area. Law enforcement, local government, Graham County EMS, NC Highway Patrol, Transit Authority and Forest Services all worked hand in hand with race staff to make a great hillclimb. The event was very well received by drivers and the community welcomed SCCA members like family. It was obvious to all involved that this was the beginning of something special and they wanted to make it grow.
In the “after event” wrap ups, SCCA relayed to the County Council that the road had some rough spots that needed to be repaired before we could hold another event there. Willie Stock, Avery Street, Ted and TJ Theodore spent a Saturday afternoon on Maple Gap Road marking all the rough spot and planting survey flags to help with the DOT study. After surveys and studies were performed by the NC Department of Transportation, the costs of those repairs were well beyond budgets in Graham County or the state. The Graham County County Council and Tourism Board went to work with state government and Joel Setzer at the D.O.T. and was able to find funding to smooth and repave the 4.2 mile road in early spring of 2012. SCCA’s Central Carolina Board of Directors has agreed to run two hillclimbs there next year : one in the Spring and one in the Fall. The city of Robbinsville, Graham County, the Forest Services and SCCA officials are thrilled with this outcome. They are all working on planning for the events as well as spectator seating on the hillclimb course for safe viewing.
Further efforts are in the works to bring a Teen Survival Training Program to the local High School and to assist the County in marketing the area for new manufacturing business. Graham County has a high unemployment rate and is eager to work with new businesses that may be interested.
What started as a search for a hillclimb site has grown into a strong relationship between a county, it’s residents and a motorsports volunteer organization. It will be a pleasure for motorsports enthusiasts to attend these hillclimb events, drive the Tail of the Dragon and see more of the beautiful Nantahala Forests. If you are looking for a vacation getaway… take a look at Graham County. They are filled with vacation rentals, walking trails around the Joyce Kilmer National Forest, camping and watersports on the Santeetlah Lake, arts, crafts and… they LOVE sports car people! http://www.grahamcountytravel.com/