For the past three years, the staff of TunerZstore and NICOclub have been hosting NICOfest at The Tail of the Dragon (Deal’s Gap).
This is a three-day event that offers tons of driving through the Great Smoky Mountains National Park on some of the most beautiful and challenging roadways in the US, with 318 turns in 11 miles.
As if that weren’t enough to get a bunch of car enthusiasts together, add in tons of great food, good friends, and a relaxing, laid-back atmosphere in the cabins of Fontana Village. Each year, the event gets bigger and more fun, and 2013 was definitely one of those events you wouldn’t want to miss!
Thursday, August 29, 2013
The TunerZstore “enthusiasts” arrived in the late afternoon and preparations for NICOFest 2013 began. Later that night became an overwhelming adventure for two passengers on the Dragon as they experienced several miles of nauseousness and numerous stops for the driver on a return trip from the local airport. Now obviously no real names will be mentioned, but one passenger is known as ‘AZhitman.’
Friday, August 30, 2013
Fontana Village Resort, NC welcomed most attendees throughout the day, allowing them to gather at the TunerZstore Cabin. The setting is gorgeous, to say the least:
That evening, the NICO “Meet & Greet” dinner was again held under the pavilion where about 25 people gathered for smoked BBQ and southern-style fixin’s. Hot Wheels Bocce was one of the most popular pasttimes, and this year it got incredibly competitive. Who knew adjusting the camber on a Hot Wheels car would make a difference? Raffle drawings were opened and the stories began, with everyone hanging out late into the night.
Saturday, August 31st
The morning came with great weather in store for the 60-mile trip that would take 20 cars onto the infamous Moonshiner’s Run (HWY 28) and The Tail of The Dragon (HWY 129), finally stopping for lunch in Tellico Plains, TN. Here’s some of the cars getting ready for the early-morning run:
The Outpost Pavilion offered a host of food from seafood to BBQ which provided everyone with a variety of edible options.
After lunch we prepared for the remaining 60 miles back, starting on the Cherohala Skyway and dropping back onto Moonshiner’s Run. This trip was a pleasant outcome compared to last year as it allowed for some spirited driving with no signs of local law enforcement anywhere. This kept the entire group together for the 120 mile loop, which is a huge feat within itself!
Now, as all newcomers have experienced, this trip is guaranteed to put a smile on your face. Upon returning to Fontana Village after the 6 hour excursion, the TunerZstore staff began preparing Saturday’s dinner. Festivities continued into the night as attendees purchased raffle tickets, played several rounds of Auto Bingo and Auto Trivia, with the “Old Timers” table prevailing with their many years of wisdom.
Raffle drawings consisted of a case of AMSOIL, Race Ramps, Mother’s Car Care kit and a 50/50 cash drawing. Just as last year, the raffle drawings ended just in time for the highly anticipated Annual Fireworks display by Fontana Village, which always ends the day with a bang.
As the night passed, attendees shared stories, watched videos and reminisced about another trip in the books. The final excitement for the night was the 1st annual “Burnout Contest” between a certain famous orange 240z with an RB26 swap and a real, imported white Silvia with a nasty-sounding built SR… the videos (which we’ll have to dig up) clearly depict the winner. I’m sure 2014 will bring a hotly-contested rematch!
Sunday, September 1st
The morning brought some to the car wash bays in preparation for the annual Car Show and Group Photo at Fontana Dam. However, the weather did not want to cooperate, bringing rain and washing everyone’s car cleaning attempts down the drain. As they say, “The show must go on”, and with a stroke of luck, the weather began to clear on the trip over to the Dam for the show.
This year’s Best in Show turned out a little differently from last year. Gordon MacSwain of Ohio returned with his rare and immaculate orange, RB swapped, 1970 Datsun 240z, but was dethroned by Herman Carrick, a newcomer this year, in his well executed 1976 Datsun 280z – requiring a TIE BREAKER vote!
After the car show, some started their journeys back home, while most explored the winding Smoky Mountain roads as others chilled into the late evening at the pavilion, bringing this year’s event to an end and what some call the best one yet!
With plans in mind to host an even bigger event at TOTD next year, the TunerZstore would like to thank all that attended and made this another great and memorable time.
Next year’s plans are in the works, so get your car prepped, pack some Dramamine for your passengers, charge up your GoPro, and bring your appetite. NICOfest at the Dragon is a great time.
The author, Gidget Henderson, is the wife of Michael Henderson (RED_DET). She’s also the brains behind TunerZstore and the Head Chef in Charge of Food, Entertainment and Shenanigans at NICOfest TOTD.