OK, so with Florida done and dusted we headed off in the direction of Knoxville Raceway – a total distance of about 2500 miles. That was close to the total mileage we had done for the trip to date, so it made sense to break it up a tad.
We couldn’t coordinate with a Sprintcar race meeting on-route so you will just have to bear with me and stick to the tourist stuff a bit longer – I hope that’s of interest to most of you. Sorry to the die-hard Sprintcar fans, you’ll just have to hang on until the 51st Knoxville Nationals commencing Aug 10th !
You know a funny thing – There are a few Knoxville’s in the USA, and I am told many a folk over the years have automatically followed the first road sign to “Knoxville” they see (usually Knoxville, Tennessee), only to end up in a town without a racetrack, many hours and many miles from their desired destination. We were right onto it and didn’t fall into that trap – Plus we cheated with a Tom Tom (GPS) !
The appearance of the land seemed to change when we hit the State of Tennessee. It became mountainous, lush, and sported some beautiful lakes and rivers. We drove for some time with very heavy rain, so heavy we could only move forward at 30 to 40 MPH.
That didn’t matter, we had plenty of time and the change in weather was a welcome relief. Up to that point we had pretty much experienced 100 degree (40 Celsius) days on a continuous basis. This temperature combined with high Relative Humidity made for a very sticky affair. The local folk at various times during the trip were indicating that the heat was extreme and a somewhat unseasonal. I remember the temperature while we were at Williams Grove even peaked at 110 degrees. Man that was hot !
We decided that we would spend a few days in Nashville Tennessee (about half way to Knoxville) so we camped up at the local KOA RV Park. When we arrived, it was mid arvo and the rain was tumbling down and the squirrels were scampering around the grounds. The Park is about 12 miles out of the town centre so that was pretty handy. Seeking adventure, we headed into the town centre of Nashville. It was Saturday 6th August and the Outlaws were over 5 hours away at Speedway I-55, just near St Louis.
The rain soon settled so we headed for the town centre. We only walked a couple of blocks and we bumped into scalpers who were selling tickets to the Keith Urban Concert that night. The girls bagged a couple of tickets, hoped they were genuine (they were) and had a ball, arriving home at 1am after the concert and a handful of visits to the local street bars.
Meanwhile, “The Boys” stumbled onto a nearby Dukes of Hazzard Museum filled with memorabilia and “Dukes” merchandise. Mark Miller bought a boxed DVD set of season 7 and we went back to the RV and watched a few episodes while downing some coldies. That was cool, I really got into that, and Daisy Duke is pretty easy on the eye. We liked it so much we took the girls back there the next day. They were fans too !
The iconic orange “01” Dukes Dodge Charger is called “General Lee”. Over the entire series “The Dukes” crashed hundreds of cars. Replacing the police pursuit cars wasn’t a problem as they were common and easy to get – conversely replacing the Dodge Chargers was not an easy job as they were no longer in production. Apparently it got to the point where producers would spot a Charger on the street and would approach the owner and make an offer to buy it on the spot.
There were a total of 309 “General Lee” Dodge Charger cars consumed during filming(some of them were 1968 and 1970 models) of the series. Right now in 2011, about 20 “General Lee’s” still exist across the USA in various states of disrepair.
Why an Orange Dodge Charger?
The Producers wanted a fast, popular car for the show – something that would be distinctive and instantly recognised. The Pontiac Firebirdand Ford Mustang were both considered, but the Dodge Charger was finally selected because it had been very successful in recent NASCAR competition. This also helped tie it into the story line as well and appeal to the show’s target audience.
The next day we toured around the surrounding districts and in the late arvo returned to Downtown Nashville. That provided some more interesting sights. The main street of Nashville (called Broadway) is lined with bars. Country Rock bands play up near the front doors and the music spills out onto the street. It was “loud and proud” and a great spectacle.
Most of the girls wore cowboy boots – it didn’tmatter if they wore a dress, jean shorts or full length jeans, the cowboy boots were mandatory footwear. They were a great bunch of friendly people. We even hooked up with a group of lovely “boot-shod” ladies out on a hens night. Good one girls !
Earlier in the afternoon “Travelling Wilbury” Brayden Miller even found a pair of Alligator skin cowboy boots ! They were a bargain at $1800 !!!!!!!!! We even came across some fancy hand made boots with a price tag just over $3000, a lot of “coin” but they were really good gear. Meanwhile brother Brodie checked out the thousands of Cowboy hats on offer. He looked kinda cool in the black hat….. Pity he didn’t buy it in the end. Not to be outdone, Tracey was fixated on getting a pair of “Those Cowgirl Boots” and managed to secure two pairs in the end. My favourites were the red ones, but she also got a pair of black ones too.
Nashville has been well worth visiting. Good people, great nightlife, even better shopping. They call Nashville the “Music City ” – it certainly lived up to it’s name.
Now we push further towards Knoxville Raceway via St Louis and the famous Mississippi River for the running of the 51st Sprintcar Nationals.
Can’t wait !