Taming The Dragon In A Bolt-On 2015 Mustang GT

Those of us who love cars can’t get enough of driving them. From commuting to work or road tripping to ripping down a drag strip or carving up the twisties, we love seat time. For Chris Cervenka, SEO Content Manager at CJ Pony Parts, the road he was determined to conquer is the storied Tail of the Dragon, a stretch of road along the North Carolina-Tennessee border that features 318 turns in only 11 miles.

There was one more attraction I wanted to cross off the bucket list. — Chris Cervenka, CJ Pony Parts

“Having driven my 2015 Mustang GT up and down the east coast from Detroit, Michigan for the Woodward Dream Cruise to Myrtle Beach, South Carolina for Mustang Week, there was one more attraction I wanted to cross off the bucket list before 2017 came to a close — The Tail of the Dragon at Deals Gap,” Chris said.

Obviously not afraid to put some miles on his 2015 Mustang GT project car, Chris arranged to take a detour to the Dragon en route to a getaway weekend in Nashville, Tennessee. Since the road has long been on his driving bucket list, an hour detour on the way to Music City was well worth the effort and he was kind enough to share his experience with us.

“One of the best aspects of the whole drive was the placement of multiple photographers throughout the 11-mile run. These photographers from 129Photos and Killboy take photos of your car or motorcycle carving corners, and post them up to their website within 24-48 hours where you can purchase digital copies or prints of your car!” Chris said.

“This road is most widely known by motorcyclists for its tight, banked turns where you’re really able to lean into each corner. In recent years, many auto enthusiasts have also traveled this road for the same kind of thrill,” Chris explained. “After hearing such great things about this twisty 11-mile stretch of US-129, I had to make arrangements to tackle it myself.”

Taming The Dragon

Before he tamed the Dragon, Chris smartly put in the time giving his car a once-over to ensure the Mustang’s systems were all fully functional and ready to run. He also checked the torque on the lug nuts and the fasteners on all the suspension components — which include CJPP lowering springs, a Steeda front sway bar, and a Steeda rear sway bar — to ensure a loose bolt wouldn’t cause any issues on the six-hour ride on the Dragon, which began on October 12 at 6:30 a.m.

…As I continued to drive deeper into the Dragon, it got more and more exhilarating. — Chris Cervenka, CJ Pony Parts

“Having lived in Central Virginia, an area where there are many twisty backroads along with the Blue Ridge Parkway & Skyline Drive, my initial thoughts were subpar. It occurred to me within the first minute or so that it was more of a tourist trap more than anything else…” Chris confessed. “Then, as I continued to drive deeper into the Dragon, it got more and more exhilarating. From the nice smooth asphalt to the steady, predictable banked turns, this road became a blast!”

As you can see in the video above, the storied road definitely lived up to its reputation and Chris truly bonded with his pony car while carving up the corners.

Chris was able to pull over 1g (as registered on the onboard Track Apps) on the Tail of the Dragon in his bolt-on, Performance Pack 2015 Mustang GT, which sounds like a great time.

“After driving the route for the first time, I felt a bit more confident in my abilities with the road,” Chris said. “The video only does an adequate job showing the curvature of this road and how much of a bank these turns actually have. We were able to pull over 1 g both left and right for the return run — impressive, right?”

Chris’ GT is equipped with the Performance Pack and augmented with the aforementioned suspension upgrades along with a Borla cat-back exhaust and a set of Continental Extreme Contact DW rubber the car proved itself with reliable braking and consistent traction. Even though Chris wasn’t driving all out on public roads, he still pushed his car to learn more about it and the road.

You‘d be smiling too if you just conquered the Tail of the Dragon in your Mustang. CJ Pony Parts’ Chris Cervenka did just that and snapped the obligatory dragon-statue photo to commemorate his achievement.

“For anyone who is on the border of whether or not to make the trip out to the Tail of the Dragon, don’t be! The claims are true,” Chris enthused. “This stretch of US-129 is no joke and the absolute most fun I’ve ever had behind the wheel (on a public road).”

And after taming the Dragon, Chris even popped in to the gift shop for some celebratory swag and snapped some photos with the famed dragon statue to commemorate the occasion — and who could blame him.

About the author

Steve Turner

Steve Turner brings decades of passion and knowledge in the world of Ford performance, having covered it for over 20 years. From the swan song of the Fox Mustang to the birth of the Coyote, Steve had a front-row seat.
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