Ladies and Gentlemen, start your engines! To say my heart began racing when I was assigned this topic is an understatement. Every member of my family, every friend from childhood, each co-worker at Dollywood, the people I meet in line at the post office (you get the idea) all know my affinity for anything with wheels and an engine. The green flag is out, so let’s talk about the car-related attractions near Dollywood!
Slide Into the Driver’s Seat
If you are looking for Pigeon Forge attractions that will get your pulse revving, the best thing to do is to slide behind the wheel yourself. Of course, the best car-related attractions near Dollywood are actually inside Dollywood! Visit Jukebox Junction to find two great attractions for the kids and the adults. For the adventurous, climb aboard Lightning Rod for a thrilling ride through the hills in one of Johnny Rev’s souped-up hot rods. Or maybe you want to slow down a bit. Take a cruise around the Rockin’ Roadway in a miniature Corvette, Thunderbird or ’59 Cadillac. You can even let the kids do the driving!
As you read in this blog I wrote about my favorite things to do with kids in Pigeon Forge, go karts are certainly a go-to for my family. My favorite karts are currently at the Xtreme Racing Center. There are faster carts for the more experienced drivers and everyone’s laps are timed so that you can compare who is the best among your group. I mean, who doesn’t love rubbing it in that you had the best lap. A classic option for go-karts in Pigeon Forge is The Track. I remember going to The Track as a kid, and enjoy that it is still a popular location for families in Pigeon Forge. Their elevated track is fun, letting you race up several stories before roaring back down the other side.
Check Out Your Dream Car
Even though they are located in Gatlinburg and Sevierville, I think these next two options are great car-related attractions near Dollywood!
Home to more than 90 classic muscle cars, and open seven days-a-week, Floyd Garrett’s Muscle Car Museum in Sevierville has been open since I was a kid. They boast more than $8 million worth of cars under their roof, and I remember it being featured on a number of car-related TV shows through the years. No matter which brand is your favorite, you’ll find something you enjoy. While I’ve long been a fan of the Chevrolet bowtie and other GM brands (I’m looking at you Pontiac), fans of the blue oval as well as Mopar maniacs can find plenty to keep them occupied. I’m sure you’ll also find AMCs, Nashes, Studebakers and more among the rows of cars.
Perhaps you enjoy cars that have had a little time on screen. If so, head into Gatlinburg to the Hollywood Star Cars Museum. You’ll see a number of cars that you will find familiar, like the DeLorean from Back to the Future, Eleanor from the Nicolas Cage version of Gone In 60 Seconds, and the car that started my “love” affair with the automobile, Herbie the Love Bug! Why even one of Dolly’s own cars, a 1997 Cadillac D’Elegance, is part of the collection. As you wander through this building, you’ll find yourself reminiscing and dreaming about shows and movies from days gone by.
The Tail of the Dragon is known around the world for its undulating surface, changing apex turns, limited sightlines and sometimes treacherous conditions. It features 318 curves in a distance of just 11 miles. Many folks bring their performance cars, motorcycles and more to drive on the dragon. A number of automotive magazines even bring cars to US 129 to test the capabilities of many of the vehicles they feature in their pages. Beware though, this one isn’t for the faint of heart. Before you head out, be sure to Google “Tail of the Dragon wrecks” to see what I mean.
If your trip to Dollywood has you in the area for a few days, you may want to head north to visit Bristol Motor Speedway. I know a lot about this one, as I worked there for about six years before I came to Dollywood. From watching the professionals compete at both the ½ mile short track and the dragway—affectionately known as Thunder Valley—a large schedule of events means there is plenty to entertain you. Additionally, you can even race your own car during Street Fights, an event designed to let you race your own car (or minivan if you’re so inclined) down the famous Bristol Dragway.
As an interesting side note, Dollywood (and Dolly) were featured in sponsorship roles on Tyler Reddick’s Richard Childress Racing Camaro during the 2019 Alsco 300 at Bristol Motor Speedway. It was a really cool moment, but even more special for me as my two worlds came together. The car received a lot of pre-event publicity, as well as attention during the race. Cup Series competitor Clint Bowyer served as one of the event commentators and brought up his theory that pink race cars always seem to be fast. Obviously it was, as Reddick, who was the defending Xfinity Series champion at the time, led 61 laps and finished second.
If you’re looking for car-related attractions near Dollywood, I guarantee there is plenty to get your motor running!