Stories from Past Dragon Hillclimbers

We love the stories that come from hillclimbers at the Dragon! Here’s a few we thought we’d share :


“In preparing for Chasing the Dragon  II, I’d had quite the thrash during the week prior to the event.  In my rush, there was a thing or two I failed to do.  Between events, my car stays in the garage, along with our four cats.  The cats love to lounge inside the racecar.   In my rush to get to the event, I forgot to clean the cat fuzz out of the car.  Actually, hadn’t thought about it.  That is, until I was on my way up the hill.  As the winds began to move about inside the car, I found myself inside a whirling torrent of cat fur, from single hairs to airborne clumps.  I quickly found myself grabbing the chunks that I could as they came by and throwing the out the window as I made my way up the course.  These are the moments a Go Pro is made for.  I’d turned mine on….and failed to hit the record button.”  – Scott Franklin


“Question:  What’s better than driving up a two-lane mountain road as fast as you can?
Answer: Smiling inside your helmet and waving to the spectators on the way back down!

Although my first SCCA hillclimb, I was welcomed at registration and accepted as part of the “Chasing the Dragon” community of drivers, volunteers, and spectators.  Then after seeing the real race cars, and speaking with the seasoned drivers, I felt somewhat outclassed with my daily driver.  But after a few runs up the hill (and back down), the thought of being outclassed left my mind; spectators approached and asked about my MX-5 Miata and driving experience.  I’m sure the unspoken thought was, “I have one of those and if you can do it, I can do it too!”  The course workers were serious and professional about their work; safety was the focus for all involved.  And volunteers (including my wife), made sure that young and old alike enjoyed their time during the event. Over the weekend, the people of Robbinsville, NC were hospitable, friendly, and supported the activities both in town and at the two-lane hillclimb site.  In short, it’s hard to beat a racing weekend in the mountains, complete with a roadside Sunday service and BBQ lunch with friends. ” – Tim Olsen


“Hillclimbing is something I’ve wanted to do since I was a kid. My parents are both from the Pocono Mtns. of Pennsylvania, which is the hillclimb Mecca of the U.S. So I grew up watching the hillclimbs up there and then Chimney Rock when I moved to Sc. It was a blast being a little kid and waiving to the racers as they came back down after their runs. So, for me, it was really special to be the driver waiving to those kids, and then later on meeting some and being asked to sign autographs for them. I had no doubt in my mind that participating in the hillclimb was gonna be great, as this is something that I wanted to do for years, but I can honestly say that it surpassed my expectations in every way and now I’m hooked.” – Scott Sipler


“It all started with a Facebook invitation to go hillclimbing from Ted Theodore, the event chair, offering that if I brought my own helmet he would put me in an IT-7 Mazda racecar.  Quickly thinking, “I have always wanted to go hillclimbing and if I don’t do it now, I never will”!!! – I contacted my wife who simply said “Do It!”   It was only two weeks before the event, and with the encouragement of family and a couple of coworkers, I contacted SCCA to obtain a novice Track Trial license (simply fill out the online forms for your application, including a medical history form – no exam is needed).  I purchased a new helmet (a SA2005 or newer version is required), and packed up my remaining gear for the event.  Ted had offered the car, but it needed a trailer to get to the mountain, so I went down to his home to pick up a lovely purple RX-7 affectionately known as the “Purple Haze”.  After dragging it home, it became a lovely lawn ornament, much to the delight of my neighbors.  As the hillclimb weekend approached I managed to convince two of my coworkers to come watch me play on the mountain.  They both have now decided to join the hillclimbing ranks and are building cars of their own for this next event.

It all seemed at first as though it wouldn’t come together in time, but the SCCA had my license to me in a matter of days, I had the required driver safety gear (helmet, suit, gloves, shoes) and the car was on a trailer ready to go.  We headed out early on Friday morning to get to Robbinsville, from Charlotte.  Every time we stopped for fuel or food, we spent some time answering questions about the car, the event, and sportscar racing.  North Carolina is famous for NASCAR and local short track racing, but it was interesting how many folks wanted to know more about road racing.  We arrived in town and found our way to the registration site in downtown Robbinsville.  This is a quaint town in the North Carolina mountains, and they are very supportive of the hillclimb participants and visitors.  The car was sponsored by “Ride Robbinsville” and their support was very much appreciated!    We enjoyed a day of food and fun during a summer festival held in town that weekend, and stayed at the “Smoky Mountain Mansion” outside of town.  I attended an informative meeting Friday evening for novice drivers, to discuss specific issues with hillclimbing, driving recommendations, and safety requirements. I also had the chance to meet my co-driver, Marc Osgood, who would be sharing the “Purple Haze” with me during the event.  The next morning we headed to the mountain, with friends in tow, to compete.  After a drivers meeting to go over safety requirements, provide car/run groups, and introduce the event officials, we headed to our cars.  One of the enjoyable experiences of the weekend was the participation of local high school automotive program students in a “junior crew chief” program.  We had one involved with our car and he was both helpful and interested in our car and the sport.

Finally, it was time to go!  After strapping into the car, and rolling up to the line, I was given the signal to start.  As I started up the hill, my first thought was “don’t screw it up”, followed by go – go – go!  I then realized that the tach had quit working in the car.  Since I wasn’t sure what a rotary motor should sound like at speed, I just kept my foot in it and went through the gears till it sounded like it was pulling as hard as it could.  The first run up was a blur of excitement.  It felt fast, but I am sure it wasn’t as nearly as fast as it seemed at the time.  Wow, that was a great feeling and one I wanted to do again, and again!!!   It was like nothing else.  After rolling back down the hill, Mark climbed in the car and went up the hill on his run.  It sounded sporty as he pulled off the line and after the first turn you lose sight of the car.  Sometime later, I heard this odd sound, similar to an old John Deere tractor, coming back down the hill. Only it wasn’t green, it was purple – the Purple Haze was sick!  A fairly quick diagnosis told us that it had lost an engine seal, which would require a complete engine rebuild.  Marc and I felt that our weekend was probably done – the car was broken and was only going to move on a trailer.  Suddenly, Ted comes to the rescue and provides us with replacement cars!!!  I shared a Mazda Miata with his son, TJ, and his co-driver Rick.  Marc climbed in Ted’s own Jedi, a specialty hillclimb car.  I had a blast!  The Miata handled extremely well and was very tight with a lot of grip.  What fun!  However, I realized I needed to come back the next time with my own car, so I didn’t have to drive with the fear of damaging a car that someone else was relying upon for their weekend of sport.  As it was, I was awarded a 1st place in the IT-7 class as I had the only complete run in that class up the hill.  It was also great fun providing autographs to the kids who were simply excited to see the racecars and to talk to a driver of one of these machines – I am sure one of them will be a future champion.

So, after one of the best experiences of my life and certainly of my 40 years behind the wheel of a sportscar, I have spent the last 2 months building up an old Corvette to compete in “Chasing the Dragon III”.  Come to the Dragon, to see the next chapter of the story as I compete along with the best hillclimbers in the country!” – Shane Findlan


“The week before the dragon II was filled with the usual car prep, loading of tires, tools,etc. Both Ray and I were excited to get on the mountain. We decided to hook up the trailer and load the car the night before, as we wanted to get to Robbinsville early so we could leave the car on display. Seemed like a good idea at the time. I won’t bore you with the details except to say I had a little trouble with the neighbors dog; so after getting picked up off the pavement I realized I had a big problem. I couldn’t stand on my left leg. Now what? I decided to stay off of it and apply ice, maybe luck would be on my side and it would be better in the morning…There was no way I was going to miss the event. We decided to go ahead after much debate. I knew that I couldn’t drive, but I also knew that Ray wouldn’t have gone without me. However the event was not a total loss. Being on the sidelines gave me an unique prespective as a spectator. Watching faces as drivers launch off the start line, hearing the cheers as they urge drivers to go faster. Young men asking someone about their car, kids begging for autographs and playing with the “Dragon” Simply amazing how the people of Robbinsville have made all of us feel like a part of their community in such a short time, I know from talking to my fellow racers that all of us are truly grateful to have such a great event. Sadly I will have to miss dragon III as well as I will be getting my knee replacement at that time but, rest assured I will be at the next one!” –  Sheila Cockrell ESP 66 Mustang Cobra II

AS you can see, a lot of great drivers are having a lot of FUN at the Dragon Hillclimb! September 29 & 30 is coming fast so sign up and join us! You’ll never forget your first hillclimb… actually, you’ll never forget the last one you ran either!


These are photos of our winners from the June 23 & 24 Chasing the Dragon II Hillclimb were taken and donated by

friends of CCR , Bert Linebarger of  and Alan Shepherd of

THANKS Bert and Alan!



          Scott Sipler of Marietta, SC

Winner of a set of TOYO Tires


        Dustin Webb of Matthews, NC

Winner of a set of Hoosier Tires


        Kenneth High of Charlotte, NC

Winner of a HANS Device




Dragonslayer and King of the Hill – Heikki Rinta-Koski of Marietta, GA in his Locost 7



Dragonslayer and Queen of the Hill – Chris Moore  of Tallahassee, FL  in her Triumph TR6






      Barbara Mayes of South Carolina Region

For her continued service in Timing and Scoring

Awarded by Last year’s winner Alan Shepherd






Phillip Rodda of Central Carolinas Region

For serving ( sweating) as our Dragon Mascot for the weekend

Awarded by Alan Shepherd








CHASING THE DRAGON II – A Weekend to Remember!

Thanks to all event staff, drivers, crew, spectators and residents of Graham County, N.C. that came out to share in our second hillclimb event in Robbinsville! While the temperatures were high around noon both days, the predicted rains never came. Over 2000 spectators came to watch our hillclimbers chase the Dragon, enjoy the barbecue and try out the new spectator area near the middle of the course. Representatives from 28 different media sources were on hand to film and shoot the racing and festivities. The hospitality of our hosts was felt by all and the 21 local companies that sponsored a car were pleased with their drivers.

This hillclimb also piloted the first SCCA SEDIV Time Trial Novice Hillclimb Program. Nine novices attended a classroom session and had mentors working with them for the entire weekend. All first time hillclimbers stayed safe and not a single wheel went off asphalt. The training included course information, procedures and general “hillcraft”. The result of this program was that FIVE of these novices won their classes.

Final Results –
RAW Results –








Heikki Rinta-Koski won King of the Hill with a time of 116.336 – only 2 seconds off the record set by Cory Friedman last year at the Dragon I Hillclimb. Chris Moore won the Queen of the Hill on her last run of the day Sunday with a time of 139.231 Each received a Dragonslayer sword and for Chris, it was her second! Trophies were presented to all winners by Event Manager – Ted Theodore, Miss Black Knight –  McCall Anderson and our SCCA Dragon.

The only two incidents were Avery Street’s Fiero and Willie Stock’s Van Diemen. Both experienced drivers were fine and both cars are repairable. The Dragon remains the safest hillclimb site in the United States but the opportunity for accidents still exists. The adherence to SCCA’s strict safety rules, the safe set up of the course, the quality of stewards/event staff and the drivers competition equipment and training combine to make the Dragon Hillclimb a great place to enjoy racing and continue to develop skills on a closed course.

Spectators enjoyed a new viewing spot at Spectator #2 where water filled jersey barriers and fencing were used for protection. Cowbells were available for kids to use to “wake up the Dragon”. Our SCCA Dragon made many appearances all over the hill and children received inflatable dragons to take home. Drivers were stalked for autographs and many of the locals wanted information on how to receive license to race and how to set up their car for the Fall hillclimb event.



A GREAT deal of thanks goes out to the following  :

To our drivers who drove very well… competitively and responsibly.

To Event Staff who worked hard to keep drivers safe.

To Stewards and event officials who insured we executed the event by our rules and in a safe manner.

To Robbinsville Chamber of Commerce (John & Valerie Feil) who covered parking of all spectators.

To Graham County Tourism – (Cheri Brantley) our feet on the ground.

To the NC Department of Transportation who worked hard to get our road in better condition.

To the Graham County Transit Authority – Juanita Colvard and her staff did a fine job with shuttle buses for spectators.

To the Ditmores from Microtel for housing our workers and helping to get things done.

To Darryl and Lori Cannon of for great pictures and coverage of our event.

To Terinda and Lauren and our U.S.F.D. Law Enforcement officers at the US Forestry Services who are allowing us to run in their beautiful Joyce Kilmer Memorial Park.

Last but not least to our sponsors- Appalachian Tire at, HANS Restraints and Tim Suddard at Grassroots Motorsports and the 21 local sponsors who helped to make the event possible. Trish England of HANS provided a HANS device which was won by Kenneth High of Charlotte, NC. Appalachian Tire awarded a set of Hoosiers to Dustin Webb of Matthews, NC and a set of Toyo  Tires to Scott Sipler of Marietta, SC

Many of Killboy’s great shots are available now at

This was a fantastic weekend and the support from local community was obvious, at the event both days, at the downtown party Friday night and the dinner Saturday night. Merchants all over town welcomed hillclimbers with signs and expressed appreciation for SCCA bringing this event to Robbinsville. We ALL look forward to the next Chasing the Dragon III Hillclimb September 29 & 30 … leaves will be changing, cool temperatures and from early indications, we expect a MUCH bigger crowd and field of drivers. Get your reservations early… it’s coming soon!


Drivers – Maps for Registration/Tech and to the Hill

This link will take you to Registration and Tech on Main Street Friday!   MAIN ST.

After you are Registered and Teched, then you may proceed to the Hillclimb Site and pick out your spot for Paddock. HILLCLIMB SITE

A Paddock Marshall will be there at the hill to help you. First come, First serve. You MAY NOT reserve a spot on the hill in advance of Registration and Tech. The Paddock Marshall is aware of areas that are already planned for use for Emergency Vehicles, Vendors, event staff support vehicles and shuttle buses. If you unload and set up tent and equipment in one of these areas, it will have to be moved.

Thanks for understanding. We have limited space but the “sides of the road” style paddock worked well last year and many said they actually liked the openness, interaction with spectators and closeness with other drivers/teams.

After you are set up on the hill, come on back to Main Street for the Festival planned there. Vendors, food, live music… great time to meet some locals and sponsors for this event.

Thanks for working with us to make this work. Weather is looking perfect and we can’t wait to get this event going and start having some FUN!

– Ted Theodore, Event Mgr.

Supplementary Rules for the June 23-24 event
















































































































































































































Many of our drivers and workers have mentioned they will be coming early or staying late after the hillclimb with their families. Graham County is a GREAT place to take a vacation! One of our SCCA Time Trial Stewards, Karyn Hudson, wrote up  a great guide of things to do in the area. Thanks for your work on this Karyn!


Mill Creek Pottery       57 W. Mill Creek Road, Robbinsville, NC 28771
  • Handmade in the Mountains of North Carolina – Members of Southern Highland Craft Guild – pottery and accessories, including earthenware, stoneware, sculpture, to decorate your home and soothe your spirit. There are two potters in our studio…All our work is made with our hands and comes from our hearts.
Stecoah Valley Cultural Arts Center    121 School House Rd., Hwy 28, Robbinsville, NC 28771
  • Stecoah Valley Center provides local artisans working studios which are open for the public to visit. Classes are offered in authentic mountain crafts such as rug making, spinning, and weaving wood carving, dulcimer and other other mountain music. Culinary workshops offered 2nd Saturday of each month. Stecoah Valley Center is dedicated to the preservation of mountain culture. The center offers many other services for the community and also hosts three mountain cultural festivals each year. Artisans Gallery, featuring a wide variety of original works by local artisans. The Center is dedicated to preserving mountain traditions for generations to come.  (828) 479-3364
Wood Gallery  Yellow Branch Road, Robbinsville, NC 28771
  • One of a kind, functional, artistic turned wooden bowls, and other items made from native hardwoods. Wonderful souvenirs of your trip to the mountains. (828) 479-9373
Yellow Branch Pottery and Cheese    Yellow Branch Road, Robbinsville, NC 28771
  • Yellow Branch Farm is the home of a small herd of jersey cows and their caretaker, Bruce DeGroot, along with Karen Mickler and other DeGroot family members. Licensed since 1985, Yellow Branch Farm is one of a handful of farms in NC producing cheese. The Yellow Branch Farmstead Cheese is an original cheese developed by Karen after training at the University of Wisconsin and University of Guelph, Ontario. The creamy cheese has a well developed rich flavor and complements a wide variety of fruits, vegetables and crackers and is a savory addition to sandwiches and casseroles. Award winning Yellow Branch Pepper Cheese is made with jalapeno peppers grown on the farm. Both varieties, made from unpasteurized milk, are free of preservatives and aged at least 60 days. The cheeses are for sale at Yellow Branch Pottery and at the farm which is located just up the gravel drive by the pottery. Yellow Branch Pottery is located in the mountains of western NC in Graham County, near Fontana Lake. The name was taken from the branch (creek) that runs along the side of the property. Karen Mickler, along with her friend and neighbor, Carol Efaw, produces a varied selection of functional stoneware pottery. Visitors are welcome throughout the year. We have a scheduled time to receive guests, and you can always drop in by chance or make an appointment. (828) 479-6710
Becky’s Country Corner      Fontana Road, Robbinsville, NC 28771
  • Handmade jellies, condiments, tee shirts, jewelry, souvenirs, boiled peanuts  (828) 479-6309
Bee Global Studio & Gallery   1633 Lower Stecoah Road, Robbinsville, NC 28771
  • Hand-dipped beeswax lanterns with embedded pressed wildflowers; beeswax pillars; garden art; wreaths; Bee Glow lanterns; ornaments.  (828) 479-8284
Designs from Buffalo Creek   121 Schoolhouse Road, Robbinsville, NC 28771
  • Handcrafted kitchen pot racks with hand-forged accents; wheel thrown and slab pottery with leaf designs (828) 479-9031

 Distinctive Collections     2905 Fontana Road,  Robbinsville, NC 28771  

  • Original paintings, folk art pottery, handmade pottery, antiques   (828) 479-9494

 Indian Springs Crafts     Snowbird Road, Hwy 143 West, Robbinsville, NC 28771

  • Handcrafted pottery, gourds, beadwork, masks, and other Native American crafts  (828) 479-1535

Tellico Grains Artisan Bakery  105 Depot Street, Tellico Plains TN 37385423-253-6911

  • Fresh from the wood-fired brick oven come wholesome crusty breads, and – on Saturdays – pizza made to order. Gourmet pastries, cakes, tea breads, brownies, cookies, muffins, and coffee cakes are crafted from scratch daily, using traditional methods and the finest, freshest ingredients. Baker’s whim, seasonal harvests, and holiday specialties enhance each day’s delectable variety, from fresh berry turnovers to festive yule logs. Located just off the Cherohala Skyway in Tennessee. Links: Tellico Grains Artisan Bakery website
Special Event
  • Mountain Artisans Arts and Craft Show  WCU Ramsey Center, Cullowhee, NC 28723
  • Mountain Artisans presents the Summertime Arts and Craft Show @ the WCU Ramsey Center. Authentic crafts from the hands of 100 regional artisans. $4.00 admission; children under 12 free. Free Parking.    828-524-3405 Jun. 30, 2012 9:00 am – Jul. 1, 2012 4:00 pm
  • Area Information

    Those looking for a little western North Carolina culture should plan on stopping at the Stecoah Valley Center where there is a variety of cultural events are scheduled and live Appalachian music every Saturday night through the summer. Another popular activity is visiting the local crafters and artisans. Locally grown produce, available all summer, will probably be one of your better memories.
    Activities in Graham County lean toward outdoor adventures. Hiking, whitewater rafting, canoeing, kayaking, fly-fishing, lake fishing, boating, jet skiing, hunting, horseback riding, nature photography, and mountain biking are some of the more strenuous activities. Others prefer the quiet restfulness of the forest, waterfalls, mountains, lakes, and streams.

    Recommended Driving Tour of Graham County: A driving tour of the entire county would leave Robbinsville and take highway 143 West out to the Cherohala Skyway. Tour up to the North Carolina lookouts and perhaps take a hike on Hooper Bald or up to Huckleberry Knob. Come back down the Cherohala and take a left on 1127 to Joyce Kilmer for a walk among the giant poplars. Leaving there you can take a left for a short ride up to Maple Springs overlook.

    Coming back down from Maple Springs take a left at the 4-way stop and circle Lake Santeetlah. A left at the next stop sign will take you out to 129. Take 129 West and drive along the Cheoah River to Tapoco. The Tapoco Dam is where Harrison Ford jumped in the movie The Fugitive. Keep heading West on 129 and you will enter the world famous touring road known as The Tail of the Dragon. The more cautious tourists might want to turn right on 28 and visit Fontana Dam. Continuing East on 28 will bring you to Stecoah, a beautiful hidden valley. Here you can return to Robbinsville by taking 143 over Stecoah Gap or keep heading east on 28 to 19.

    A right on 19 will bring you the Nantahala Gorge. whitewater rafting, always a good place to sit and watch the rafters on a hot summer afternoon. Continue south on 19 and take a right onto 129 to bring you back to Robbinsville. Taking the big loop would definitely be a long day, so be prepared.

    For good area maps of both Robbinsville & Graham County, go to

    Counting Down the Days!

    Things are going GREAT for our Dragon Hillclimb June 23-24 in Robbinsville, NC!

    A few updates :

    1. Entries are still coming from drivers and classes are filling up. We have 7 drivers competing in C Street Prepared class and 5 in Street Unlimited! We can still use a few more safety workers so if you are interested, please sign up as soon as possible. Workers receive a shirt, accommodations, breakfast and lunch both days and dinner Saturday night and will draw for prizes as well.

    2. Lodging – if you are looking for a place to stay, there are still openings at :

    Smoky Mountain Mansion    Call Beverly at  866-862-4220

    Mountain Manor                 Call Brenda at 828 479-4555

    3. Spectator area #2 will be open for the June event. This is halfway up the hill and will provide a good view of cars coming and going! Safety barricades will be in place and workers will be there to insure safety of spectators. The Spectator are # 3 at top of the hill will also be open. You can see cars finish there and drivers will come over to talk with spectators. It’s a great chance to talk, ask questions and get autographs. Each youth that gets 15 autographs gets a free inflatable dragon (see Information Desk at event for details!) Be sure and see the view at the overlook at Spectator Area #3… beautiful view of some Carolina Mountains. BRING YOUR CAMERA!

    4.  Parking  – The Law Enforcement side of Forest Services reminded us again in our last meeting, ALL entrants and spectators MUST park outside of the white stripes. It is vitally important to keep the lanes free for all traffic.

    5. The road work is finished and the course is significantly smoother! We appreciate the money spent by North Carolina Department of Transportation to improve this road. They focused mainly on turns and dips to help cars keep better asphalt adhesion and less bottoming out of springs. The course does have mixed surfaces but is a better course than last year. Remember, each hillclimb course has it’s own unique challenges and it has never meant smooth perfect asphalt to the top!

    6. Local businesses in Robbinsville and Graham County have stepped up to sponsor cars and help our event! We appreciate their interest and support! The Chamber of Commerce has worked with local businessmen to cover worker meals and help make this event possible. One local auto shop has offered to help any driver that needs welding or major repairs during the weekend. This kind of teamwork is greatly appreciated and makes these events such a pleasure to share.

    7. Media Passes – If you are working in media field, we will have media passes that will allow access to more of the course. You will need to sign a waiver, stay outside of armco barriers and stay in sight of a safety worker at all times.

    WE CAN”T WAIT…. see you at the DRAGON HILLCLIMB! June 23-24

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