2017 was our first year attending MINIs on the Dragon in Fontana, North Carolina so we thought it would be nice to recap our experience for all to see!
MINIs on the Dragon is a fantastic event for Mini Cooper owners located in the mountains of Fontana, NC. The event encompasses the beautiful Fontana Village Resort and the surrounding roads.
We definitely picked an exciting year to make the trip up to Fontana, North Carolina! When we arrived to the lodge on Thursday, May 4th the power was out and everything was completely black, but more on that later. We have a great experience to share!
We decided to trailer our shop car which is a beautiful Chili Red Monte Carlo Edition Mini Cooper R53 Hatchback.
Our trip from Tampa, FL to Fontana, NC was filled with nothing but...rain! We still made the best of it though. The trip took us a total of 12 hours, which wasn't too bad considering the circumstances.
Our first stop for fuel was in Georgia, where they only had 87 octane. Good thing we weren't fueling up the Mini!
As soon as we turned onto US 129 from 74 (Red Marble Gap), we stopped to let our MINI conquer the roads leading up to Fontana Village. It was begging to be driven after being stuck on a trailer the whole trip.
As we pulled into Fontana Village Resort for the first time we noticed a friendly reminder to all MINI owners regarding our time on these roads. As fun and exciting as they are, they can also be very dangerous. It is everyone's responsibility to remember the rules during events like these.
The Fontana Village property is absolutely stunning. The views it gives are breathtaking, and the Smoky Mountains provide a gorgeous backdrop. The highest part of the property is the main lodge, which is seen here.
As you work your way down the side of the mountain you can see everything this property has to offer. Fontana Village Resort, aside from the main lodge, has a nice selection of individual cabins and separate rooms for all of their guests which makes for an interesting layout.
Attending 2017 MOTD as a vendor, we spent a lot of time on Vendor Alley throughout the weekend.
It was a great experience for us. We met a lot of great people who love their Mini Coopers!
We were told this wasn't the best year for MOTD, but we suspect the weather had a lot to do with it. The day before we arrived, a huge storm came through and downed hundreds of trees and knocked out the power to the greater Fontana area through Friday evening.
We attended a few of the events that MOTD had to offer such as the Brew Swap and the Farewell Dinner that was held in the Rec. Hall building.
Another great event we were able to be a part of was the Panoramic Photo. Here are a couple of behind-the-scene pictures of everyone setting up for the final photos!
If you have a printed photo of the whole group, you can spot us in the center of the back row standing next to our MC40!
While we enjoyed all that Fontana Village Resort had to offer, we can not forget about what brings us to this particular area in North Carolina. The roads!
We had an absolute BLAST driving our MINI on the Dragon and roads leading up to the Dragon.
The amount of sharp turns and elevation changes are enough to get your adrenaline pumping in a matter of minutes. When you have a large group of MINIs all together in a group it also adds an aspect to driving that you don't usually feel. We managed to record some of our time on the Dragon (US 129) and Moonshiner (Route 28) during the MOTD group runs.
After arriving to the area on Thursday, we had some time to take a drive on the southern part of 129 near Lake Santeetlah.
While the weather didn't cooperate, we did manage to photograph some of the experience.
On the way back to the lodge, we passed the breathtaking Cheoah Dam as seen below.
Construction on this dam started in 1916, and took 3 years to complete. When completed, the 225-foot dam was the world's highest overflow dam. The turbines were the largest in the world, and the 150,000-volt transmission line had the highest voltage and the longest span for a transmission line — 5,010 feet across the river below Cheoah Dam. In 1993, this dam was used as the filming location for the movie The Fugitive, starring Harrison Ford.
Throughout our stay in North Carolina, we had many opportunities to view the sights surrounding the Fontana area. Another beautiful view was located around the Fontana Dam, which is the main attraction for visitors in this particular area of North Carolina.
At 480 feet high, Fontana is the tallest hydroelectric dam in the Eastern United States, and at the time of its construction, it was the fourth tallest dam in the world. Construction was completed in 1944, 2 years after the project started. It was originally built to accommodate the skyrocketing electricity demands in the Tennessee Valley at the height of World War II.
The dam's spillway presented another problem, as engineers were worried that the water's 400-foot drop would eventually cause erosion issues at the dam's foundation. A special spillway was thus designed that drains water out through two 34-foot diameter spill pipes into a diversion tunnel equipped with a deflection system.
The Fontana Village was originally built for the workers and their families who came from all over the country to help build the Tennessee Valley Authority Fontana Dam.
All in all, we had a blast during our trip and look forward to attending 2018 MOTD. Mini owners come from all over the country and even Canada to attend this event which really shows their MINI pride. It's one of many reasons that make this event so great, and we are proud to be a part of this community. See everyone next year!
Please feel free to view the other photographs that were taken during our time in Fontana: