South Florida to Kentucky, USA And Back – 2018

2010 Porsche 997 GT3

Right off the bat, probably better to say Tennessee rather than Kentucky, however, I did get to Bowling Green, Kentucky so I’m going with that in the title. Getting a bit ahead of myself though.

Arrived back in South Florida and my good friends were away in Georgia. I was able to stay at their place while I sorted out the next part of my life. With no permanent home, I can choose to do or go anywhere. I checked in with Orbit Racing and discussed plans for the 993. Needless to say, more money to be spent and more time. Still under budget so all good with me. It meant one option of jumping in that car and heading north to Toronto and then across to Vancouver was not going to happen. Something for another year.

This left me with either hanging out in Florida or jumping in the Porsche 997 GT3 and going for a drive. I didn’t drive it much in 2017 and only for a few days in 2018 between selling the 2006 BMW M3 and leaving for Australia. A quick message to a mate in Charlotte, North Carolina and I was in the car heading north with no plan other than to maybe get back to Nashville and make it a big circle through five states. Counting Kentucky it was six.

Managed to catch up with another mate from Australia who was over visiting his family just outside Charleston, South Carolina. I like this area and whilst I didn’t get much of a look around this visit, I will return.

A few nights at a mate’s place in Myrtle Beach bought back a few memories. I stayed here in late 2012/early 2013 in the dead of winter. It was the first time I had ever woken up to snow on the ground. Still the only time. After a couple of months I was ready to leave and ran back to Florida. This time around it was summer so much warmer. They met me there for the weekend and then we headed back on the Sunday evening, bound for Charlotte.

The mate’s place is on the outskirts of Charlotte and I have stayed there a few times and never really explored. A visit to the downtown area was all right and nothing memorable. Like many US cities, the downtown is purely business and not much else. In this case a few sports stadiums for the local NFL and NBA teams.

As a motorsport nut and being in NASCAR territory I visited the Richard Petty Museum to get a sense of the history. He certainly loved his number 43… Ran into another Aussie bloke there who was driving his Holden ute. He had it shipped over from Australia as they are not sold in the US. Good to chat to a person without a southern accent. I could understand him and he could understand me!

The mate’s family and I did a weekend down to Greenville, South Carolina so his young son could see the Carolina Panthers NFL team at pre-season training. My first real exposure to NFL. They are big guys. A nice city and will need to make it back for a better look around.

Next stop was Asheville, North Carolina. I’ve been there before on a trip in the M3. This time with the Porsche 997 GT3 I hunted out the good driving roads and the Blue Ridge Parkway was recommended. Fantastic. Even if there was a bit of rain around, the traffic was light and a great day. Visited the Biltmore Estate to see how the one percenters lived back in the day. They did it quite well by the looks of things. Worth a visit and get the audio option if you do the house tour.

I wanted to get back to Knoxville, Tennessee as it was one of those places I liked last time I visited when I was in the Porsche 993. Unfortunately it rained when I arrived and didn’t stop when I left the next day. Oh well, guess I need to go back again. Plan was to get some photos of the cool old buildings in the downtown area.

I had organised to be in Nashville for the weekend to make it to Cars and Coffee on the Saturday and then out for a drive on Sunday with some other Porsche owners. With a day to fill in I decided to take in the National Corvette Museum in Bowling Green, Kentucky. This is the place where they had the sink hole a few years ago that swallowed up a few prized Corvettes. Worth the visit even if like me, you’re not a Corvette person and just a general car person.

Nashville Cars and Coffee was good. Very warm, although not as bad as the Palm Beach one because at least there were a few trees to hide from the sun. A good mix of cars and even a Renault R5 Turbo. Think the last time I saw one of these on the road was in Monaco. A rare sight in the US.

Sunday morning was a meet up with a 2007 Porsche GT3RS (in wonderful orange) and a G body 911 with a few mods. We hit the roads out near Leipers Fork, west of Nashville. I’ll put it down as the best day I’ve had in the Porsche 997 GT3. Following a GT3RS with a driver with good local knowledge for 150 miles was perfect. We might have fractured a few speed laws that day…

Time to start heading south again and another call to a mate in the mountains of Northern Georgia. A bed for two nights was organised. I drove down via Chattanooga, Tennessee. It was a place I visited on the 993 Carrera trip and some good industrial buildings to use as a back drop for photos. Even found a new location that I missed last time.

I had a poke around Dahlonega, Georgia, including Gainsville and Lake Lanier. A nice area in summer although way too cold for me in the winter. I was there in December 2016 on dog pickup duties (a quick road trip from Stuart, Florida to Memphis and back) so I know what the winters can be like.

Then it was back to Florida and a final night in St Augustine. Dahlonega to South Florida is doable in a day, however, I was in no hurry and like to avoid the interstates where possible so it was still a seven hour drive. Even more fun when the usual afternoon storm rolled in a visibility down to metres and about 30 miles and hour rather than the posted sixty five. As I’ve found with most of these storms, you just have to ride it out for 5-10 minutes and then it’s fine again.

A FPL transformer blew in the overnight storm and the hotel was in complete darkness when I woke the next morning. That meant an early start for the last three hours of driving. Straight down I95 and averaged 72 miles an hour so a perfect run. Wish all of I95 could be like that every day.

So 3221 miles over twenty three days and six states. During the trip I turned over the 30 000 miles which for a GT3 is high. Seems they are either driven a lot and barely driven these days. Still, for a nearly eight year old car, those kind of miles mean it is barely run in for a Porsche. It drove flawlessly and except for a concerning noise for a couple of hours it was worry free. Except having to watch out for scraping the front end. The noise turned out to be a stick wedged between the body and the under tray. Part of it is still there and will require removing the tray I think.

The car is filthy and my wheels look almost black. I’ll be able to look back on this trip as I spend the hours cleaning the car.

As for the next trip, no idea. As I write this I’m not sure where I will be staying in 24 days time. In those 24 days it will be spread across our locations too. Some time will be back up near Jacksonville so another few miles will be put on the car before it is stored away when I head to Hawaii and then Australia. Maybe the 993 will be finished soon and I can do another road trip.

UPDATE – Turns out the next trip was a big one up the east coast of Australia in a new to me 2004 VW Golf R32. Read about my Victoria to Queensland in a VW Golf R32.