South Florida And Six States and Back – 2021

2010 Porsche GT3

After more than two years in storage it was time to dust off the Porsche GT3. I’d actually had the car services and four new tyres back in March 2020 in preparation for my return to the US. Then Covid hit and it was too difficult for me to leave Australia. When you don’t have a permanent home, quarantining at home, staying home etc is impossible. Hotels and vacation rentals were also not taking bookings so that wasn’t an option. Combined with not being guaranteed to make it to Sydney to catch the flight to the US meant staying put was the best choice. I thought I’d head back in July and little did I know it would be November.

Porsche 997.2 GT3 and red brick wall

So it was like getting a new car when I arrived at Orbit Racing to collect the car. When I am away for long periods I toy with selling the car. It’s the only MY10 Porsche GT3 in cobalt blue in the world so it’s a big decision. Not like I can buy another one if I change my mind.

With travel still been impacted I aimed for a mate’s place in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina for the winter. First night at Summerville, South Carolina after a very long day driving. I thought the Saturday of the Thanksgiving holiday period would be fine for driving up I95. I was very much mistaken. Some parts near Savannah, Georgia were stopped completely. I was worn out by around 5pm when I finally made it to the hotel.

The next three and a half months were spent based in Myrtle Beach. I had a few trips up to Charlotte. I’ve done that drive a few times so I hunted out alternate routes each time based on possible photo opportunities. I have to keep feeding the Instagram monster!

Porsche 997 GT3 in front of an industrial building

I managed to survive the winter there this time. I stayed around the same time back in 2013 and left early because I found the cold weather tough. Knowing what I was in for helped. Plus I buried my head in work and shut down a lot of non-performing projects and concentrated on the profitable ones. As the weather improved and the crowds started to arrive, it was time to leave. Florida was ludicrously expensive thanks to the open door policy and people wishing to leave the more strict areas. That meant I needed to make another plan.

I’d start north then head inland to places I hadn’t been before with the aim of making it to Nashville. Last time I enjoyed following an orange 997 Porsche GT3RS around the roads outside Nashville and wanted to repeat the fun. So first stop the North Carolina Outer Banks. Bit like Myrtle Beach in that isn’t not an ideal place for a solo traveller. Still, good to see the place and soak up a bit of the history of flight and the Wright Brothers.

Whilst there I made contact with another Porsche 964 cobalt blue owner in Chapel Hill via the Rennlist forums. By sheer coincidence, that was where I was headed. Even better, he had a drive already organise for the day I was to arrive. So a mix of back roads and interstates had me there by early afternoon ready for the meet up with a 964 owner, a backdated 911 owner and two Cayman owners. One of them was only a week old. Who cares about run in periods. A great afternoon and we turned a few heads when out driving. Luckily none were law enforcement.

Another drive a couple of days later and a tour around the Chapel Hill and Durham areas had me marking it down as a place to return to one day. One of those areas where you get a good vibe upon arrival. Made better by now having a few fellow Porsche owners in the area.

997 Porsche GT3 at Fontana Dam, Tennessee

I headed north with the aim of then following the Blue Ridge Parkway from north to south. I have previously done a bit of it just north of Asheville, North Carolina. I poked around Lynchburg and Roanoke, Virginia for a few days and found some great driving roads with a few over the border in West Virginia too. This part of the country is very different and didn’t see too many other sportscars. Even the dog in he middle of the road in one small town didn’t bother moving for me.

The Blue Ridge Parkway is an easy road to drive. The 45mph limit can be a tad frustrating at times, however, once you are on the road it’s very easy to navigate. Not so easy when parts are closed and you want to get back on as soon as possible so the detours can be a bit difficult to work around. I’d checked the websites so I knew of most of the closures. One caught me by surprise. So now I’ve done most of the parkway and probably stopped at 90% of the overlooks. In Australia they would be called lookouts.

Hotel life is difficult and expensive during holiday periods such as Easter so I found a reasonable place to stay in Boone, North Carolina and had a look around the area for a few days. Then it was on to Cherokee, North Carolina and a run through the Tail Of The Dragon. What I hadn’t realised is I’d already been to Cherokee on a previous trip. It wasn’t until I was leaving that I recognised a rest stop and the memories came back of dashing to the restroom in a torrential downpour.

The Tail Of The Dragon was a good run. I do find it a bit over-rated though. It’s a good free flowing road, just a bit slow. Plus, with the amount of traffic and number of motorcycles, it’s not somewhere you want to cross the centre line. The Porsche GT3 was much better than when I did in in the 993 a few years ago. Perhaps the latter will be better now it has new suspension rather than 100k mile original suspension.

Porsche 997 GT3 in front of an old metal building

That filled in the time and I arrived in Nashville. A Friday night drink and debrief with the orange GT3RS owner and plans were outlined for the following two days. Estimated to be a couple of hundred miles each day. He was very close. Saturday was a bit wet so it was just the two of us. Fortunately just as we cleared the Nashville area and made it to the good roads, the weather cleared. These are great flowing roads and not nearly as tough as the North Carolina ones. Don’t think the front scraped once, unlike the other fun days in North Carolina. Just don’t ask where we went, I was just following the car in front. In this cash the orange one was swapped for a silver 993 Carrera.

Sunday saw a couple of other cars. A slate grey 964 Carrera 2 and a red back dated G series 911. This time was east of Nashville. As we pulled up to have a break at the Center Hill Lake damn we realised the car park was full of BMWs out doing the same thing. Only there were a lot more of them. So a quick rest and then off again so as to not get caught up with them. Four Porsches are not exactly stealthy, however, add in 20+ BMWs and an Audi or two and it would be worse.

Nashville done and dusted and off to the other mate down in Dawsonville. A week there where I only took the car out for day. I wanted to get a specific photo near Big Canoe. Neither of us knew anything about the place. I found the location, took the photo then we started talking to a local car guy. He helped us get past the front gates at Big Canoe and we had a poke around the massive residential area. The Porsche GT3 didn’t like some of the steep turns.

As usual a stop in St Augustine, Florida on the way back to my base in South Florida. Still expensive there, still no easy international travel, still no long term plans. Well the GT3 did need a service so that went back to Orbit Racing and I headed to Las Vegas to pick up another rental car for a couple of weeks. Hope it’s not a Toyota Camry.

Dirty Porsche 997 GT3