Back of the Dragon headquarters

The new headquarters for the Back of the Dragon in Tazewell is slated for a late summer or early fall grand opening. 

TAZEWELL, Va. — A late summer or early fall grand opening is planned for the new center of the Back of the Dragon in Tazewell.

Jamie Cartwright, with the Dragon organization, said the outside of the 5,000-sq.-ft. structure is complete.

“Right now we are waiting on HVAC, plumbing and electrical,” she said. “Once that is finished they will come in and pour the concrete. Then they will finish the inside. We still have a little ways to go but we are closer than what we were.”

A nearby smaller temporary center is now used as the headquarters, where motorcycle and sports car enthusiasts can stop by, relax, buy souvenirs and learn about the area.

Thousands of people a year visit Tazewell as they ride the Back of the Dragon, which runs 32 miles on Rt. 16 from Tazewell to Marion, crossing three mountains in the process.

The popularity of the ride continues to grow and Cartwright said May was their busiest month ever.

“We had a lot of riders from Canada,” she said, adding that more and more riders are coming in from Canada and the northern states.

Larry Davidson, president of Dragon Fire LLC, which operates the Back of the Dragon, said earlier that it was the community that made the new center possible. 

“We’re very excited,” Davidson said. “We are looking toward the future to develop the Back of the Dragon Center which will make this the hub for the motorcycle and sports car community within the United States.”

“The decor will be a motorcycle and sports car theme,” Davidson said. “We’re going to have great food, beverages. It’s a place you can come before you ride or a place you can come to after you ride to get something to eat. Enjoy camaraderie with fellow riders and drivers. Just a good place to chill for a little bit. Pick up a map and find out the next place you want to drive on.”

There will be retail there, too, with hats and T-shirts.

Another feature will be a special 15-ft., Games of Thrones style dragon that will sit beside the center.

“It’s almost finished,” Cartwright said. “We are now getting the pedestal built to set the dragon on. In two or three weeks it may be in place.”

In the meantime, the gap between hearing the roar of engines at the center is usually short as they come and go at a steady pace on a sunny warm day.

Cartwright said all efforts are now being focused on getting the center finished so no big motorcycle events are planned for this summer, but a group of sports car drivers will be in Tazewell on June 27.

“We have the national Z Club coming in,” she said, referring to owners of the BMW Z-4. “We are looking at about 100 cars, depending on the weather. It will be a really good event.”

Plenty of events for both sports cars and motorcycle will be planned after the center is finished, she added.

“We want to be ready for next spring and summer. We are really excited about it.”

— Contact Charles Boothe at cboothe@bdtonline.com