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The Volvo Parts, Accessories &
Performance Specialists Since 1963

C30s Conquer the Dragon Cruise

2017-07-13 - ?

Dustin Wright
Co-Founder of C30s Conquer the Dragon
and Chairman of the Planning Committee 2011 & 2013

C30s Conquer the Dragon: 

Deep in the Southern Appalachian Mountains lives a Dragon. Not a Dragon of the likes we know from mythological lore, though it can burn you just as badly. The dragon of which I reference is a famous stretch of twisting tarmac that is known around the world for it’s tight switchbacks and spine tingling topography. “318 curves in 11 miles“… from Tabcat bridge in the North to “Fugitive dam” bridge in the South…. 9 miles as the crow flies. Nestled in amongst the deciduous the trees at the Southwestern barrier of the Great Smokey Mountains National Park along US Hwy 129, and with the nearest town being nearly 16 miles away, this road is secluded and far from any metropolitan civilization…. the perfect place to get away for a long weekend for any driving enthusiast who wants to add lots and Lots and LOTS of curves to their driving experience. The Dragon has long been a “Mecca” for motorcyclists itching to test their nerve and be able to proudly claim that they have slain the Dragon. And now within the past decade and a half or so it has become popular as well with sports car enthusiasts.

About four years ago a couple of guys who shared a common enthusiastic interest for the car they owned but only knew each other from an online forum got a crazy idea in their heads. The car? Volvo C30. The forum? The crazy idea? Let’s start a National C30 get-together! But let’s not make it just for one day. Let’s make it for four days! And let’s not just have it be a get-together where we just sit around, talk about our cars and have a car show. Let’s actually get out and drive! And let’s not just drive anywhere. Let’s drive on North America’s most twisty road! The idea was posted on the forum.

Enthusiasm for this idea was slow to build at first. Understandably so, since the majority of the folks who regularly visited the forum live nowhere near the Dragon. But slowly, with the help of several photos and much discussion about how great it could be, enthusiasm started to rise. Once we began to realize that the idea could actually become reality we started tossing around ideas on names and how to fill the four days that compose this new event that was just starting to brew. C30s Conquer the Dragon became the favored name and after doing some research on other auto enthusiast events that have been held at the Dragon we discovered that there were many other great roads surrounding the area and some truly great facilities to be had. With it’s close proximity and many great amenities Fontana Village Resort became our “HQ”.

I like to say that first year was our “great experiment.” An experiment because for the most part we were all planning this event blind. Well, I know I had ever planned anything like this before but we all knew that the Dragon is a blast to drive and because of that and the passion that we share for the C30, C30s Conquer the Dragon would become a success. Where else could C30 enthusiasts come together to not only drive roads like these but also finally get to meet face-to-face some of the people we communicated with almost daily on the forum? The addition of awards and door prizes added to the fun as well. The enthusiasm grew but even with what we thought to be high forum interest the Inaugural C30s Conquer the Dragon was destined to be a small event.

We had just 5 C30s that first year and I must say that it was indeed a blast! We took so many pictures and just absolutely plastered them to our thread on the forum. The poor folks who couldn’t make it that first year were positively jealous that they couldn’t be there but that just made generating interest for the second annual event so much easier. Interest in the second annual C30s Conquer the Dragon started almost immediately after the first one was over. We got so many folks saying that they were going to try and make it the next year. And for the most part, they did not let us down.

Thanks in part to the great experiences, stories and photos from the first event, the second annual C30s Conquered the Dragon was even more of a success than the first one. We had grown from 5 cars to 13. We added more awards; up from 2 to 5. We also added an official welcome party/cookout for the first night of the event. We had so many folks coming down from the Northeast (almost half the total number of the group) that they organized their own little event of sorts; the “NE convoy”. They all meet up in Winchester, VA on the Wednesday before the first day of the event and drive down to the Dragon together… convoy style of course. With two-way radios on board to keep good communication and some of the guys having never met in person before, naturally the chatter was light and humorous the whole way down. Some of the material was quite “gut-busting” I have been told. And of course yet again we all had such a blast at the second annual event that we plastered photos and all the stories of the good times all over the forum. And yet again, more people became interested in the event.

The third annual C30s Conquer the Dragon, held this past April from the 19th thru the 22nd, we again set a new record for our little event. We had a total of 28 cars; 26 of which were C30s with a 2004 ½ S40 and a 2012 S60 tagging along with us for all the fun. We also added yet again more awards this past year; up from 5 to 10. The addition of our very own website and a Facebook page aided tremendously in keeping the people informed and “in the mix” about the plans for the upcoming event. Also new for us this year we added sponsors and charities to the event. Thanks to the generosity of our sponsors and attendees we were able to raise just over $1,300 for our two charities, Wounded Warrior Project and Wounded EOD Warrior Foundation. Also aiding in raising that money was the addition of a new event: the C30s Conquer the Dragon Poker Run. Unlike a traditional poker run we stretched this game out over the entire weekend and to help keep up the attendees interest we tied the card drawings in with some of the other group events planned over the weekend. Also new this year we had a trip up to Pigeon Forge, TN for some friendly yet competitive go-kart racing, a stop by the Smoky Mountain Moonshine Distillery in Gatlinburg, TN as well as a Trip to Asheville, NC to visit the Biltmore Estate.

We are just in the infantile stages of planning the fourth annual C30s Conquer the Dragon but if the previous years are any indication, this next event will be just as exciting as the last three. And with any luck will continue to grow. The passion is there. The resources for information is there. Now, thanks to iPD, the publicity is there. The only way we can go is up! It truly is amazing to think that this little crazy idea started just 4 years ago and has grown so much in such a short period of time. I’d like to think that we will quite possibly get our first West Coast attendees next year. So far to date the farthest West anyone has driven from was somewhere in the middle of Texas. The farthest anyone has driven from to get to C30s Conquer the Dragon was an attendee at this years 3rd annual C30s Conquer the Dragon at around 1,140 miles from Petawawa, ON, Canada. For the 2nd annual C30s Conquer the Dragon that was held last year we had an attendee drive all the way from Boston. That‘s right at 1,000 miles….. and he did it overnight! We do have an award for the attendee who dives the farthest from where they live to get to the event. And for me it’s the most prestigious award because it means that you are the most dedicated, crazy ass, Volvo driving, Red Bull and coffee drinking SOB to be at the Dragon.

I’d truly love to see our numbers grow at the same rate we have grown the last couple of years. If we did that means that we’d grow from 26 C30s this past year to about 52 C30s next year. It will be tough but if the West Coast guys start jumping on the fun train it can and will be done. I am, as always, working and hoping for the best. Nothing but the best.

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