10 Things Every Atlanta Car Enthusiast Must Do
Porsche Experience Center
A crafted driving experience like few others. Part time on track, part driver education and all fun. The Porsche Experience Center in Atlanta is one of only two centers like this in the US. Select from a variety of different Porsches to drive, strap in and be prepared for experiences that include wet road driving, a “kickout plate” that purposely kicks the back out, and a high banked high speed drive. Want more? The experience center is the only place with Porsche Motorsports, Porsche Owner and Porsche Design retail in one place. Stick around for a wonderful meal at the 365 club overlooking the track and the Atlanta airport. Truly an experience every car enthusiast should have.
The Porsche Experience Center is even better with the expansion. It includes a new section that simulates the corkscrew from Laguna Seca and even some the best parts of the Tail of the Dragon.
More information: Porsche Experience Center Review
Karting At Atlanta Motorsports Park
These are not the go-karts you drive at the beach or in Pigeon Forge. These karts go 55 mph on a .85 mile track that includes 42 feet of elevation change. They also easily get tail happy. Plus you get to compare you lap times to the records of others that day as well as of all time.
More information: https://atlantamotorsportspark.com/karting/
Drive The Tail Of The Dragon
311 turns in 11 miles is about all that needs to be said. Located about 4 hours north of Atlanta is one of the greatest roads in the US, if not the world. While North Georgia drives are fantastic (including the Suches loop which also makes this list) there is simply no reason any car enthusiast shouldn’t make their way down the Tail of the Dragon at least once -not that you’ll want to only do it once.
More information: Tail Of The Dragon
Drive Suches Loop
While Tail of the Dragon may get the gaudy stats and reputation, the Suches Loop is still one of the most enjoyable drives you’ll ever get to take. Not to mention, it’s the likely destination of probably 90% of the mountain drives by Atlanta car clubs. So, much like being the only person who didn’t see the game this weekend, you don’t want to be the only car enthusiast who has has never had the joy of driving this section of road. Plus, it’s only 1-1.5 hours away and less than half a day of total commitment.
More information: Drive Suches Loop
Visit Summit Racing
Why would a retail location make our list, especially one that is most likely to carry parts for an older Mustang or Camero? Because there are few experiences like it anymore. The giant retail store has rows of car parts, t-shirts, helmets and so much more. As a car enthusiast there is simply no other place like it in the Atlanta area. It’s also a throw back to a previous era. There use to be literally dozens of stores like this in the Atlanta area that have all since departed. Besides, there are only a handful of car friendly places with big parking lots that are glad to have you.
More information: https://www.summitracing.com/about/retail
Price: FREE! (excludes whatever you buy there)
Drive Road Atlanta
Since 1970 Road Atlanta has represented the Atlanta area motorsports scene. The track is iconic – hosting early races from Can-Am and IMSA. However, it’s real lore started in the mid 1990s. Dan Panoz, famous for the custom built Panoz cars, bought the track. A few years later the Petit Le Mans was founded. Petit Le Mans featured worldwide attention featuring the American running of cars you usually had to visit France to see.
For many young motorsports fans though, it was when Road Atlanta began appearing in video games that it become a place every car enthusiast needed to experience. Not just to watch the race, but an opportunity to drive the course rendered into our digital conciseness.
While you can easily still attend Petit Le Mans annually, no enthusiast should miss the opportunity to join one of the numerous ways to experience a lap around Road Atlanta. There are many parade laps prior to the Petit Le Mans put on my various local car clubs, and they require no driving skill or wear whatsoever. You can also join a local track event or HPDE (High Performance Driving Education event) that allow you to take laps at speed, usually with driving instruction. It’s a great way to experience what so many race car drivers and enthusiasts have – the magic of a lap at Road Atlanta.
More information: Upcoming Track Days At Road Atlanta
Photo At The Krog Street Tunnel
One of Atlanta’s most iconic locations is the Krog Street tunnel. At the epicenter of Atlanta’s thriving east side culture the Krog Street tunnel for dozens of years has been home to some of Atlanta’s most expressive statements and street art. It also happens to be one of these most photogenic locations in the city. Right near the Atlanta Beltline and just below railroad and MARTA tracks it is easy to see why the energy, environment, history and living scene are perfect for car photos.
The real challenge is as the area has transformed into one of the hottest neighborhoods in Atlanta is how to actually position your car for a photo without blocking traffic. The easiest way to do it is to make it a two person operation. Have one person drive the car through the tunnel while another person has already walked into the tunnel. Bring a good camera though. Light is low in the tunnel.
Photo From Atlantic Station
Want a little more skyline in your car photo? While there are dozens of parking deck roof tops in the city you can take a car photo, the Element Parking Deck at Atlantic Station is one of the best. It has a clear view of the entire Midtown Atlanta skyline. It’s beautiful at night. If you need a car photo and want Atlanta to be at the center, without some of the hassle of needing two people, this is a great place to go.
Price: $ (cost of short term parking)
Attend Caffeine and Octane
For something that started as a small thing 15+ years ago – having coffee in a parking lot with other car enthusiasts, has become an icon itself, complete with merch, TV show and now even a restaurant. Caffeine and Octane is one of the largest monthly gathering of cars in the country and it happens every first Sunday of the month at Perimeter Mall. Join thousands of other car enthusiasts and check out cars that range from classics to modded imports to exotics like Lamborghini’s. Many of Atlanta’s enthusiast focused car companies and dealerships show off their latest models as well.
More Information: Caffeine and Octane
Attend Petit Le Mans
With all do respect to Atlanta Motorsport Speedway and NASCAR, IMSA’s Petit Le Mans at Road Atlanta is the absolute best racing spectacle you will find in the Atlanta area. The event draws people from all of the US and the world. It’s the IMSA season finale, so the stakes couldn’t be higher. The racing is always fantastic and it’s a multi-day event. The main event is on Saturday of the race weekend and runs for 10 hours. You can even go and walk through the Paddack and get up close and personal with the cars and the teams.
It’s also a huge show for car enthusiasts. Porsche, BMW, Lexus and Corvette clubs all have dedicated parking areas that serve as a peusdo car show. They also often offer parade laps, which would cover another one of our Top 10 things to do).
In addition to the racing and the clubs, the manufacturers get involved. BMW, Porsche and Lexus all feature owners lounges with free food and snacks. This is all in addition to the vendors and food stalls.
More Information: Petit Le Mans
Price Legend: $ – < 25 bux, $$ 25-99 bux, $$$ 100-250 bux, $$$$ over 250 bux
Prices are entry fees per person for a typical day/experience and do not include wear and tear to vehicles, food, gas or other expenses.
Previously On The Must Do Atlanta List
Unfortunately when items are on this list, they don’t always stay forever. While that can serve as a warning not to take the opportunity to do them for granted, let’s instead focus on remembering fondly for those who did have a chance to enjoy them.
Make A Pass During Fast Friday’s At Atlanta Dragway
Affectionately known simply as “Commerce”, it’s was place the fastest dragsters who come to Georgia run. However, the best part was that anyone can make a pass at Commerce during their “Fast Friday’s”. There are few other places you can legally line up and race your car buddy. It was a chance to floor your car flat out and reach speeds at or exceeding triple digits in a controlled and safe environment. It was also a chance to drive down the strip in the same place as famous drag racers such as John Force and so many others have done.
Fast Fridays were test & tune races open to anyone, in any car, that could pass a safety inspection. At a Fast Friday you could have gotten a chance to race your car and see dozens of other sportsman and enthusiasts. Even as a spectator, you never knew which random Friday night you’d get a chance to see some rather unique cars. Fast Friday’s had appearances by jet powered drag bikes, wheel standing dragsters and even full blown Top Fuel cars.
Sadly, Atlanta Dragway was sold and is being redeveloped into something other than a race track.