When Fernando Alonso was announced alongside Lando Norris in a Ligier for the 2018 Rolex 24, there seemed a convergence of interesting strands of narrative: not only were a couple of contemporary grand prix drivers entering the race, but so too were the powerhouse teams Joest and Penske. The brand new BMW M8 GTE was to make its debut and the Cadillac hegemony of 2017 had been broken down over the second half of the year as ESM ascended to a couple of late season wins. After an incredibly tight 2017 Rolex, 2018 promised more of the same – and then some.
For the final time on our trip, we have once again injected a little jeopardy into proceedings. The week leading up to the Indy 500 features a host of short-track races across the surrounding area. The Carb Night Classic takes place on the Lucas Oils Raceway, about half an hour from downtown Indianapolis. I’m determined to be there for the evening’s activities. Mrs Motorcardiaries is less concerned. Either way, we hit the road due north from Bowling Green, bound for our last state: Indiana.
In the interests of true road tripping, we have again introduced a little jeopardy to a serious day’s motoring. We have tickets for NASCAR’s third-tier Camping World Truck Series at Charlotte Motor Speedway. Not only does this mean six hours of driving, but we have no time zone straddling to aid our progress.
We treat the multi-storey hotel car park as an opportunity to warm up the Challenger and it’s impossible not to giggle as the big ole brute rocks on its springs from the torque – virtually from idle. The noise is outrageous for a production sedan.
It’s unusual to tap a destination into a sat nav and find oneself with no directions for a full 200 miles but the I-40 East will convey us for almost 300 miles – right into the Smoky Mountains. Bearing in mind our location, vehicle and the extent of driving ahead of us, it feels right to deploy some real driving music: Credence Clear Water Revival. Now we’re in business.