With two tires in the front and one in the back, no roof and a futuristic design, the vehicles certainly draw a lot of questions from passers-by, but they also invoke a sense of adventure. Every time I pass, I imagine what it would be like to hit the open road on a sunny day behind the wheel of one of these machines.
I had that opporunity during the summer, but after a short trip around some of the main roads at The Greenbrier and The Greenbrier Sporting Club, rain washed away my trip almost before it began.
I was left looking for more, and on a crisp but beautiful recent fall afternoon, that chance finally arrived.
I had originally scheduled my drive for the morning hours, but when I awoke to frost on the ground and temperatures in the 30s, I had to quickly call an audible. I mean, when I pictured having the wind in my face, I wasn’t expecting to be bundled up as though I was headed to the ski slopes. Would Mother Nature snatch adventure from my arms once again?
By afternoon, though, the sun had warmed the Greenbrier Valley almost into the 60s, and my trip was full speed ahead.
I arrived at Off-Road Adventures, just down the street from The Greenbrier’s main entrance, around 1 p.m., and was greeted warmly by the staff. I then set down to watch a video, explaining the features and safety guidelines for that red mystery machine, a Polaris Slingshot.
I began learning a little more about this street legal open-air roadster. I learned about its lightweight design and its 173 horsepower capabilities. I learned that helmets are required, the minimum age to drive is 25 and that drivers have to understand how to operate a manual transmission to get behind the wheel. Luckily — thanks to the five-speed 1985 Honda Prelude I drove in high school and college — I checked all the boxes. After completing the video and signing a waiver, I was on my way.
Well, not quite. Before she turned me loose on the streets, my instructor made sure I was familiar with all of the features of the Slingshot and understood all of the controls. Then she sent me to the road with a waive goodbye.
Right away, I was hooked. The Slingshot was as fun to control as I expected, and modern features like a Bluetooth paired radio, so I could blast my favorite tunes as a traversed the winding roads, a navigational system to help lead the way and a backup camera to make sure I didn't run over anything in my path, made it even more than I anticipated.
With Greenbrier Photography’s own Mike Watt by my side capturing the memories, we climbed the mountain to The Summit at The Greenbrier Sporting Club, taking in beautiful fall foliage as we made our way to several majestic overlooks.
The winding roads and changing elevation were perfect for testing the power and precision of the Slingshot, as well as my rusty skills with a clutch. The ascent, and the decent, could only be described as exhilarating.
When we came off the mountain, we were ready for more adventure. We traveled down Route 60 to Caldwell, driving along the Greenbrier River for more scenic views. We then continued through Lewisburg and further down Route 60, testing the vehicle’s speed along the way, while checking out amazing views.
We ventured off the main road just a little to travel across Herns Mill Historic Covered Bridge, just outside of Lewisburg and saw some autumn images that seemed reserved only for postcards.
With the end of the day quickly approaching, I dropped Wyatt off back at The Greenbrier’s North Entrance to begin processing the pictures. But before I turned in the keys, I had to take one more drive by myself.
I paired my phone to the Slingshot’s audio system and put on my favorite playlist. I drove back through White Sulphur Springs and took a left on Route 92.
Passing very few others along the way, I enjoyed the beautiful fall afternoon as I sang along to some of my favorite songs and kept my foot heavy on the gas pedal. Even at increasing speeds — I won’t reveal exactly what those were, since I signed a waiver to obey all the laws — the small windshield in the front kept most of the wind out of my face, and I was floored by just how smooth of a ride the Slingshot provided and filled with excitement and adrenaline as I flew down those mountain trails.
I wasn’t ready to turn in the keys, but I didn’t want the Off-Road Adventures staff to come looking for me, either. So, I headed back and brought my thrill ride to an end.
It was a day I won’t soon forget, and one I hope to repeat in the near future.
If you’re interested in your own Slingshot adventure — and I can promise you that you won’t be disappointed — reservations can be made for half-day trips (3.5 hours) or full-day trips (7.5 hours), and the staff at Off-Road adventures will be happy to recommend several enjoyable drives perfect for the experience. The half-day trips run from 9 a.m. until 12:30 p.m., or 1:30 p.m. to 5 p.m. The full-day trips run from 9 a.m. until 4:30 p.m.
For more information, visit the website or call 855-453-4858.