Students at Fast Track High Performance Driving School don't need to prove that they can parallel park—they're more concerned about taking a turn at more than 100 miles per hour. Most of them have never even felt the rumble of a 600-horsepower engine before. After plenty of safety debriefing from expert instructors, however, they usually are no longer intimidated by its purr. They'll then hop into the vibrant shell of an ARCA-style stock car, a former racing vehicle that's still capable of rocketing down the track at a blur-inducing speed of 165 miles per hour.
Since 1989, the school has been fulfilling speed-demon fantasies with its courses and ride alongs at racetracks throughout the country. The staff meets with everyday fans and aspiring competitors alike to cover racing protocol, safety, and appropriate postrace dance moves. Depending on the depth of their lesson, pupils might take the wheel during a four-car passing exercise or simply sit back in the passenger seat as a professional flies through three–five laps.
Designed by U.S. Special Forces and reality-show veterans, The Dirty Hog’s mud runs⎯held throughout the U.S. and Canada⎯promote teamwork and tenacity on untimed 9- to 12-mile treks through mudslicks peppered with obstacle-laden checkpoints. Participants shape their destiny at multiple checkpoint challenges, with each success potentially shortening the trek ahead and each failure earning burdens such as sacks of pig feed or a piglet that must be raised to maturity. As alternatives to the full course, a shortened, 5-kilometer option enables exertion on a smaller scale, and a half-mile piglet run grants children a chance to delve into the mud. The surpassing of tests earns mud navigators colored bracelets that are tradable for beer, hearty pork fare, and other delights at a free after party awash in live music and celebratory grunts from Lola, the event’s mascot boar. Teams cry out victory chants as solo entrants compliment each other on mud stains in the shape of Herbert Hoover’s silhouette.
Since 2005, the award-winning Cypress Bend Vineyards has harnessed the rich flavors and antioxidants found in the muscadine grape. The wonder fruit has resulted in the creation of wine varietals including 13 Muscadine, one Cabernet Franc, and one Malbec. Cypress Bend's winemaker leads tours through the vineyards to detail each step of this process, from grape plucking and fermentation to monitoring each grape's 401K as it ages. The flourishing soil also plays home to live events throughout the year, such as Friday-night jazz or beach music concerts.