MATG 101: Info for First Timers and Old Timers alike

General information about the annual gathering and the Gap.
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MATG 101: Info for First Timers and Old Timers alike

Post#1 » Tue Jul 28, 2015 6:15 pm

If this is your first time attending Miatas at the Gap, WELCOME! Below you will find answers to some very Frequently Asked Questions about the event, the area, and other topics. Please see if your question is answered here and if it's not, reply to this thread and get the answers you seek.

Local Area Questions

The area is VERY mountainous so your cell phone may or may not work. In fact, the only really reliable places for cell phones are in Robbinsville, and at the Fontana Lodge and General Store where there are some Verizon repeaters (note these may NOT work if you are not a Verizon customer).

Fontana Lodge has WiFi and a computer in the lobby that has internet access. There is also WiFi at the Wildwood Grill, General Store and Pitstop. As of right now, the cabins do not have WiFi, though the Lodge rooms do. Robbinsville has free public wifi in town and the area restaurants may also have free wifi, as well as the other lodgings in the general area.

Why can't I find Beer or Wine?
Graham County is a dry county, so no alcohol sales allowed. Fontana Village is the ONLY place in Graham County where you can buy Beer and Wine and Liquor by the drink, they have a special dispensation from the state of North Carolina to sell alcohol. If you want to get some beer, wine or liquor, you'll need to bring your own, or run out to a neighboring county.

What are the roads like?
Expect straight areas, but mostly roads go from curvy to HOLY COW SWTICHBACKS! MATG started because of the infamous Tail of the Dragon, the section of US129 that claims 318 curves in an 11 mile stretch. But there are also many other excellent driving roads in the surrounding areas like Wayah Rd, the Cherohala Skyway, Happy Valley and Hellbender 28. Keep in mind, these are all public roads and sometimes in very heavy daily use by the locals, tourists, motorcycles, other sports cars and large trucks.

Safety Concerns
  • At all times, do not drive like an idiot.
  • Do not drive outside your own abilities, especially if you're in a run and trying to keep up with the leader or the car ahead of you.
  • Don't speed, these are public roads
  • At night and in low-visibility conditions, be very careful. Large wildlife can jump out of the woods in any curve, and people HAVE hit things like boar, bear and deer. Hitting a 400 pound wild boar can ruin your weekend.
  • Slow in the Village. Fontana has a lot of families on vacation and small children running around, so be very careful and don't drive fast in the Village
  • Pull Over!! If you have vehicles stacking up behind you, pull over in a safe area and let them pass. The Dragon has many paved pulloffs explicitly for this. Use them.
  • Beware of very large trucks. Though they're illegal on the Dragon, they do still find their way up there from time to time, and they are still legal on all the other area roads. They take up a LOT of space, especially when trying to navigate the tight corners that the Miatas eat for lunch.

Medical Help
If you get sick, there is a clinic in Robbinsville called Tallulah Health Center.
If you wreck and need a hospital, you will likely be waiting an hour or more for the ambulance to get to you, then another hour or more for transport to the closest trauma center which is Blount Memorial in Maryville, or you may be taken to UT in Knoxville. If it's bad enough, you'll get a very expensive ride on the Medevac helicopter. See the Safety suggestions above to avoid having a wreck.

Whats around me?
Aside from the Miatas at the Gap events, Graham and surrounding counties have a LOT to offer from good restaurants to gem mining, rafting, hiking, horseback riding, boating and camping. The Appalachian Trail runs through this corner of Georgia, NC and TN. There are several rivers suitable for rafting and tubing. There are many museums, potteries, wineries, and arts venues in the area. There are festivals and cultural events going on every weekend. Tellico has some of the best off-roading on the east coast, if you happen to drive up in a 4WD and towed your Miata (and if not, there are Jeep Rentals in the area too).

Graham County especially is a HUGE supporter of Miatas at the Gap, and the Graham County Tourism Board will be more than happy to fill you in an all the wonderful things to see and do in the area.

The area we are in is served mainly by the NC Highway Patrol, Graham County Sheriff's Department and Swain County Sheriff's Department. On the TN side is mostly Tennessee Highway Patrol and Blount County Sheriff's Department. They will write you a ticket and invite you back at a later date to explore the Western NC and Eastern TC court systems.

Miatas at the Gap itself

What is this all about?
MATG was started a very long time ago by a group of people who share a love of the world's most popular roadster, the Mazda Miata or MX-5. It was started in 1996 and occurred at Tapoco Lodge every year until Tapoco Lodge closed in 2009. Starting in 2010, it was moved to Fontana Village where it continues today. July 2016 marked the 20th Anniversary of Miatas at the Gap!

When does it happen?
Officially, Miatas at the Gap happens the first FULL weekend of August each summer. FULL weekend means Friday through Sunday are all days in August. As the event has grown in popularity over the years, some runs are now scheduled on Thursday, so unofficially, MATG runs the last full Thurs - Sunday long weekend of August every year.

What kind of events are there?
Events range from social activities such as the annual Beer Swap and Wine Tasting, the Raffle, Hanging out in the vendor area to various pre-planned driving events that range from mild to wild. Check the current year Events forum often as runs are announced all year leading up to MATG and are edited all the way up to a few days before Dragon Season.

Where can I stay?
See the Lodging forum for info on area motels, resorts and campgrounds. We have a block of reserved rooms and cabins at a discounted rate in Fontana Village, so be sure to check with them for availability. Other motels in the area may also offer discounts for MATG attendees. Most importantly though, please be sure to get your reservations in early, as the popular lodgings fill up quickly. Often people reserve their rooms for the next MATG before they even leave the current MATG.

Can I bring my dog?
Sure, but you will need to be sure your lodging allows animals. Fontana allows dogs but you'll have to pay a $150 pet fee when you check in. Keep your dog on a leash and be careful around kids and especially other dogs.

What should I bring?
This gets asked a LOT... below are some of the more common suggestions for things you may want to bring:
  • Folding or Camp Chair
  • Sunscreen
  • Towel
  • Umbrella
  • Jacket (It can get chilly at night, especially if you're on top of the mountains
  • Comfy Shoes
  • FRS/GMRS radio (most people use Channel 5 to communicate)
  • Beer or Wine (for the Saturday Night Beer Swap and Wine Tasting)
  • Cash (Fontana does not have an ATM, the nearest is in Robbinsville)
  • Hat
  • Water
  • Camera
  • GoPro or other video camera
  • Epi Pen and other medications

I want to lead an event!
List your event in a new thread in the Events forum. Be sure to let people know when to meet, when you plan to leave, the route you are planning to take and whether it's meant for anyone, or a "Spirited" run that may be more suited for experienced and aggressive drivers.

What's a Spirited Run?
Spirited runs are at a faster pace (possibly inching up to Ludicrous Speed or some shades of Plaid). These runs are NOT for the faint of heart, nor are they for cars that aren't tuned for aggressive, fast driving such as you would for track days and autocross. So keep in mind that everyone in a spirited run will be driving fast and aggressively and if you're uncomfortable doing so, you could create a hazard in the middle of the pack. If you have any questions or doubts, shoot a message to the person organizing the run.

We sometimes do a raffle at the Saturday Night Beer Swap and Wine Tasting. The prizes are donated items from our many vendors and partners. Any given year we may have a handful to several large boxes full of prizes to be won. 100% of all proceeds benefit the chosen recipient as our way of saying Thanks and showing support for our community and the community we become a part of every August.

In the past we've donated raffle proceeds to various Cancer charities and the Blount County Rescue Squad (who are the ones that come to save your life if you ever wreck on the Dragon). Raffles will be announced in the Events Forum once the recipient has been decided for the next MATG.

Isn't this a bit more organized than you led me to believe?
Yes. Miatas at the Gap still remains the largest, and longest-running unorganized gathering of Miata Enthusiasts in the US, but as we grow each year, some natural organization does creep in to make things easier for participants, especially newbies. MATG is still a "Come as you are, do what you want to" type event and remains completely Free to attend and participate in, and everyone is encouraged to actively participate with their own runs and events if they wish.

How do I know what's going on once I'm there?
Usually on Thursday or very early Friday morning, a whiteboard is set up with the current list of events as listed in the Events forum of this website. The whiteboard is held at the Registration Tent from Friday morning and is updated as new events are announced.

Seems like a lot going on, what does this cost?
I told you, nothing. It's completely free to attend. Some people drive up only for the day, and leave that evening. Some come for the weekend and some stay the entire week. The only cost to you is whatever you have to pay for food, lodging and gas.

If this is free, and it's not organized, why do I have to register?
You don't, but we appreciate it if you do. Registration just gets us a more accurate count of attendance. On average, we have about 450 +/- registered Miatas and around 15% who don't register but filter in and out throughout the weekend. Registration is free, and is done at the Registration tent. Also, if you register, you get a free Dash Plaque for your car, or collection, and often get other swag from vendors, supporters and the local area. The swag can range from stickers and catalogs to coupons and other goodies.

I don't see the registration site here on the forum
There isn't one, Registration is done in person starting Friday morning at the Registration tent.

When is the Dam Photo?
See the Event section. The Dam Photo happens EVERY year on Saturday at 11AM sharp. This means you need to be down in front of the Fontana Dam if you're going to be in the photo no later than 10:45. If you show up at 11, you'll be asked to park on the road and will not be allowed in to park with the participants.

The photo is done by Darryl "Killboy" Cannon. Killboy is also very well known for being the first, and best photographer on the Tail of the Dragon. He's a professional and does sell copies of the pictures, but he's a great guy, a great photographer, and is a very well known fixture in the area. Buy a picture and support local businesses.

Photos on the Dragon?
Killboy is the first and oldest of the Dragon Photographers. There are also others. You will see them set up in certain corners on the Dragon shooting photos most days of the week. Their cards can be found at Tail of the Dragon (Across from the Motorcycle Resort) and at the Deal's Gap Motorcycle Resort, as well as being pretty obvious on the sides of their cars. Here are some of them:
"I drank what?" - Socrates

1991 SE British Racing Green
2007 Honda VTX1800C (Taming the Dragon with .2 extra Liters and 2 less wheels)

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Re: MATG 101: Info for First Timers and Old Timers alike

Post#2 » Thu Oct 19, 2017 11:23 am

This page says MATG is held the last weekend in July every year but I do believe by other things I see on the site that for 2018 it is the first weekend in August. I hopefully will be a first timer in 2018.

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Posts: 257

Re: MATG 101: Info for First Timers and Old Timers alike

Post#3 » Thu Oct 19, 2017 12:45 pm

NHWanderlust wrote:This page says MATG is held the last weekend in July every year but I do believe by other things I see on the site that for 2018 it is the first weekend in August. I hopefully will be a first timer in 2018.

Thanks for the catch. Needless to say, July was correct in 2015 and 2016, but from 2017 onwards the weekend is the first full weekend of August each year. I've edited that posting to correct this.
"I drank what?" - Socrates

1991 SE British Racing Green
2007 Honda VTX1800C (Taming the Dragon with .2 extra Liters and 2 less wheels)

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