Day Three of the LeMons Winter Rally found the assembled hoopties headed from Asheville, North Carolina, to Memphis, Tennessee, with two parts of a route that couldn’t be different. The first part saw snaking through the Great Smoky Mountains before undertaking the six-hour drive across Tennessee on I-40, all of which was coined “Dragon & Waffles” from the methods through which competitors could earn points. Let us explain.
The “Waffles” part came from the unofficial regional food brand of North Carolina and Tennessee: Waffle House. Between Asheville and Memphis, Rally organizer Steve McDaniel counted no fewer than 63 Waffle House restaurants within 10 miles of I-40. Teams could get two to-go waffles for 20 points each from six different Waffle Houses with a receipt to match. That meant 240 points possible by stopping and bothering Waffle House employees for to-go boxes with just two waffles in them.
Upon reaching Memphis, competitors gathered with their waffles in Handy Park on Beale Street to put their waffles to good use. Every team who participated in a waffle-eating contest got 25 points, while the winner from Evan Van Osdol’s ’74 Chevy Monte Carlo managed to down three cold Waffle House waffles fastest with the help of some Kobayashi-style beer dunking. The waffle-tossing-for-distance competition victory went to Chris Grimm, a Dakar motorcycle competitor who is co-driving a Porshe 924S on the rally.
Naturally, Freiburger and Finnegan didn’t manage to get their waffles to Memphis, having instead flung them at each other at a stop just before reaching the Tail of the Dragon. Because Roadkill.
Before getting to Memphis—and even before getting to I-40—competitors took their heaps down the Tail of the Dragon, the famous winding stretch of Route 115 that begins at Deals Gap on the North Carolina-Tennessee border. A number of teams assembled at Deals Gap on the cloudy Thursday afternoon. Aside from the Waffle House runs, this was the only checkpoint for the day.
What is Tail of the Dragon? It’s an 11-mile run from Deals Gap with more than 300 tight turns, many of them blind. We suspect this was the weirdest collection of cars ever to run down Tail of the Dragon at once.
That included Jeff Bloch’s Reliant Regal. Here is a short clip of Bloch and Rally Boss Steve McDaniel taking the three-wheeler down the Dragon.
Tomorrow begins the final stage of the Retreat From Moscow Rally with a visit to Paris, of course, followed by a run to Waterloo, Alabama, and then the awards handed out at a party at 7 p.m. in the paddock at Barber Motorsports Park.
With just one day and three checkpoints left, here is how the points sit, unofficially, as of 10:40 p.m. Roadkill sits seventh after a solid day of running and waffle-tossing.