2,120 Miles in a Tiger
June 18 – 25, 2022
Read about this trip and make your own plans for getting to Bowling Green, KY for United 40. September 14-17, 2023
Watch for Joe Parlanti’s planned pre-United event!
What began as a chance meeting back in 2016 at the Pittsburgh Vintage Grand Prix, Rick Furno noticed a car hidden in the paddock which he had never seen before. Curiosity led him to wait in an unusually long line of people hoping to talk to the owner of the car, which turned out to be the very unique Marcos GT owned by Dave Mensh. Dave and De Mensh were spending the weekend with us in the paddock as I raced my Abarth Zagato and the Marcos always draws a crowd. Rick, Dave, and I hit it off immediately, especially learning that we were living near to each other in Maryland. One car event led to another and soon the four couples or “8 friends” (Matt and Cecelia Ernau, Dave and De Mensh, Rick and Heather Furno, and Jackie and me) became fast friends dedicated to enjoying our classic cars. The “Otto Amici” tour is a tribute to the miles covered and memories created as well as many more to come.
I’ve had a desire to do a classic car run to my hometown of Lexington, Kentucky for a number of years. We finally decided that this year was the time to go. So we planned the route looking for the best driving roads with interesting stops along the way. Our goal was to get to Lexington and then do day trips to horse farms and bourbon distilleries.
Here we go!
Day 1 to Pulaski, VA
Trouble at the start
The Otto Amici met at the Dunkin Donuts in Brunswick, MD. After stopping in the parking lot, I pulled up on the emergency brake lever and I could tell something was wrong. Dave and I got under the car and found that the E-brake rod had pulled loose from the left side lever. Luckily, the clip was still on the rod, so we popped it back in and were good to go; or so we thought…
We took off and headed out on the first leg. Some 94 miles later, and after passing the entrance to the FEMA Mt Weather Emergency Operations Center (check out some really cool fun facts in this video discussing the multi-story underground buildings and infrastructure), we stopped for a break at Cooters Place (of Dukes of Hazard Fame) in Luray, VA. It was a cool little museum and a nice stop.
The next segment took us across Skyline Drive. We then ran an exciting portion of The Raptor (Rte 250), ending at the Dan Ingalls Overlook. We chose this stop as it provided a neat phot op comparing our first visit several years ago on one of the Amelia or Bust Tours.
Just seven miles on we had an elegant lunch at The Omni Homestead Resort in Hot Springs, VA, a premier destination to 23 U.S. Presidents.
Clyde and Valerie McLaughlin and Duane and Cyndi Ellis joined us for the next couple of days. Clyde drove his Tiger and Valerie drove her Jaguar. Duane and Cyndi were in a Porsche Carrera S4.
The emergency brake cable issue recurred, only this time, the clip was missing. I was a bit nervous not having an E-brake heading into some of the most challenging roads of the trip.
After lunch we exercised the cars on some great roads. Clyde and I chased each other in the Tigers, and I was particularly enjoying how much better the car handles after installing my limited slip differential. A big shout out here goes to Clyde’s wife, Valerie, who impressed us all with her ability to hustle that big Jag through the twisties.
After a break at a little country store with a nice overlook, we headed toward our stop for the night at the Jackson Park Inn, Pulaski, VA. In 2015, a 1920’s grocery warehouse was converted to a hotel. As a historic preservation project, the renovation respected many of the building’s original features. Aged brick, exposed post and beam timbers, and wide plank wood floors are showcased throughout the hotel’s three floors. Modern features and finishes added in the renovation only serve to highlight the building’s timeless structure.
Day 2 to Willimasburg, KY
After breakfast we headed out to some of the best driving of the trip. We covered a portion of The Claw of the Dragon, followed by The Back of the Dragon, stopping at the Back of the Dragon Visitor Center at the end of the segment.
Our lunch stop was at the Woodbooger Grill in Norton, VA. Legend says that Sasquatch, Bigfoot, Woodbooger, or whatever you choose to call him is living in the nearby hills. Pictures do not seem to be available. But the true way to the Woodbooger’s heart is eating the Super Woodburger at the Woodbooger Grill!)
After lunch we ran the Dragon Slayer, a 20-mile stretch of 226 significant curves and breathtaking views.
Day 3 to Bowling Green, KY
South of Nashville, we had a tour of the Lane Motor Museum. We had met Jeff Lane and his wife on one of the Amelia tours, so we had a great behind the scenes tour. The museum has some truly unique cars and will be a tour destination of the 2023 United.
Today’s route took us South into Tennessee on picturesque and easy roads. I was able to get my best gas mileage of the trip so far at 24.5 mpg thanks to a light foot and the 5-speed. BTW, our trip took place at the exactly the wrong time for gas prices and there were several stops with $5+ premium prices.
In Bowling Green, near the museum, we stayed at TheHotelSync, where you could actually rent garages along with your room. We had a great dinner in the center of Bowling Green.
An interesting side note:
After the issue with the E-brake resurfaced I had decided to see if the guys at Lane could help me out. As expected, they were eager to help with floor jacks, a drill, bits and cotter pins. After our tour was complete, the brake rod was modified the way it should have been done at the factory.
Day 4 to Lexington, KY
We started the day with a tour of the Corvette museum. It’s really a good facility and will be enjoyed by all during the United. We had lunch in the Stingray Grill right there at the museum. It will be certainly be enjoyed as part United 40.
After lunch we headed to our afternoon stop at Mammoth Cave National Park. We took the 2-hour historic tour which is truly a natural wonder.
After lunch we took the two-hour historic tour at Mammoth Cave National Park then headed to the Towne Place Suites in Lexington, my home town. The next couple of days would give me a chance to visit family and to show our friends some of the great places around town.
Day 5 in and around Lexington
Our first stop of the day was at Keeneland Racecourse. Located in the Horse Capital of the World, Keeneland is an internationally renowned racecourse and the Thoroughbred industry’s leading auction house. Founded in 1936, Keeneland’s mission is to continually invest in the industry and to preserve the tradition of Thoroughbred racing.
Since we were late leaving Keeneland, we had to forgo our lunch stop at Mammy’s Kitchen in Bardstown to make sure we made our tour time at the Jim Beam Distillery in Clermont, KY. We managed to have a very nice lunch at the distillery and then it was on to the tour.
It was the hottest weather of the trip. Jackie bailed on me and rode the 60 miles back to Lexington with Matt and Cecilia in their air-conditioned Challenger. The Tiger was running great and the engine stayed very cool with my new Dale A multi-pass radiator, but I was getting toasted in the open top car.
After some recovery time and a shower, we headed to West Sixth Brewery, a favorite haunt in Lexington. Ouita Michel, a well know local chef, has an on-premise seafood restaurant which we all enjoyed. A special treat for me was having my sister, brother-in-law, and my best friend from high school meet us there.
Day 6 in and around Lexington
After a great breakfast at a hometown favorite, Magee’s Bakery, we headed to our tour of Claiborne Farm, one of Kentucky’s premier thoroughbred breeding establishments (Secretariat stood stud there until his death) It’s a great example of the history of Kentucky and we thoroughly enjoyed the visit.
After leaving Claiborne, we drove some of the most picturesque roads around Lexington past some iconic horse farms like Spendthrift, 3 Chimneys, and Winstar on our way to lunch at another of Ouita Michels restaurants, Wallace Station.
A great lunch of Kentucky favorites and we were again on our way to a tour of the Town Branch Distillery in Lexington.
From here went to visit my parents for a short while and then headed back for a break at the hotel before travelling to our dinner destination at the Lexington Distillery District. We started with beers at Ethereal Brewing and then on to pizza at Goodfellas followed by ice cream at the Crank and Boom Ice Cream Lounge.
Day 7 to Elkins, WV
It was time to leave Lexington and we headed East on a nice leisurely drive towards West Virginia stopping for lunch at Pies and Pints in Fayetteville, WV on the doorstep of the New River Gorge.
We stopped for the night in Elkins, WV with the intent of having dinner at the Appalachian Bistro near the hotel only to find it closed. Apparently, there was a shortage of people willing to work in the restaurant industry and they had to close. We opted for delivery and stayed in the hotel sampling some of the bourbons we brough back from KY.
Day 8 and home!
Saturday was another nice drive toward our lunch stop at the More Better Restaurant in Round Hill, VA. We were met there by Duane and Cyndi Ellis who you’ll recall spent the first few days of the trip us. After a great re-union it was time for the final leg back home.
This trip was a truly memorable adventure. We were able to share a lot of miles and experiences with our dear friends, the Otto Amici. The Tiger ran flawlessly after the E-brake repair and continues to be a fantastic road car able to handle vigorous twisty road driving and interstate cruising. I encourage all of you to get your cars out and experience them with friends. To me, that’s what this hobby is all about.
Until next time:
BTW, if anyone is interested in recreating some or all of the trip, I built an 87 page routebook that I can send along.
As a prelude to next year’s United in Bowling Green, KY you’ll get an early look at some of the plans we have for the event. Also, I plan to organize a pre-United gathering in Lexington, KY before we head down to Bowling Green. For those interested, the plan will be to meet in Lexington the Sunday or Monday before the United and do day trips on Tuesday and Wednesday to horse farms, distilleries, etc. We’ll then head down to the United on Thursday. Contact me directly if this is of interest.