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Kennedy: Porsche enthusiast preparing user’s guide to one-day car trips from Chattanooga

by Staff

Pied piper. Tour guide. Leader of the pack.

Pick your description — Eddie Rahm fits them all.

About a decade ago, Rahm came up with the biker’s dozen, a curated list of day trips for motorcyclists using Chattanooga as the hub.

Biker’s dozen was a riff on baker’s dozen, and so there were 13 trips (not 12) meticulously described on Rahm’s website, which was filled with maps and recommended stops. All were gentle journeys through the countryside accented by the scenic beauty of the Southern Appalachians.

Rahm, a semi-retired engineering specialist, had spent years as part of a Christian motorcycle club called Wings in the Wind and knew all the best places to visit at every compass point. He partnered with the Chattanooga Area Convention and Visitors Bureau (now called the Chattanooga Tourism Co.) on the biker’s dozen.

“I’m all about back roads and small towns,” Rahm said at the time. “I tell people who complain that things from the past are gone, ‘They’re still here, you’ve just got to get off the interstates.’

“My wife and I have been doing this back roads driving for 20 years. We know all the places.”

Now, Rahm is at it again. But this time he is focused on creating trips for drivers of four-wheeled vehicles. At 73, he is more comfortable taking day trips in his 2015 Porsche Boxster, which can carve up a twisting mountain road with aplomb.

His new project, called Scenic City back roads, is an even larger collection of 17 trips (and counting) that can be completed in a day. The project website is not operational yet but will be up and running for the fall foliage season in the Tennessee Valley, Rahm said.

“I’m from Chattanooga. We’ve been here six generations,” he said in an interview earlier this month. “What I teach my kids is, you are either going to be a leader or a follower in life. There’s no in-between.”

    Contributed photo / One of the loops on the Scenic City back roads website will be a trip to the Great Smoky Mountains, including a stretch on the Foothills Parkway, shown here.

Rahm is leading by filling a need that intersects with an area of his expertise. For many years Rahm has been the unofficial tour guide for a handful of Porsche, Ferrari and Shelby Cobra car clubs whose members like to come to Chattanooga because it’s such a good launching point for day trips. They don’t call it the Scenic City for nothing.

For example, Rahm said one of his favorite trips in the Scenic City back roads collection is a trip to Tellico Plains, a town of about 800 in Monroe County. The loop — as Rahm calls his excursions — ventures to Alliance, Tennessee, and across the Hiwassee River and then back toward Chattanooga through Ducktown and Turtletown.

Interestingly, Rahm treats all that as volunteer work. He’s sunk some of his own money into the effort, not to mention the estimated 600 hours of his family’s labor that have gone into the project. His wife, Mary, proofreads copy, and his daughter, Lindsey Gutierrez, designs and populates the website.

“I’ve had a good career in engineering,” Rahm said. “I still work part time. I’ve done OK. I’m willing to take a little bit of a loss to donate something to the city.”

Rahm said the new Scenic City back roads project will benefit from advances in technology. The project will be amplified through an app called “Ride with GPS” which will offer turn-by-turn instructions on each of the loops.

Starting in September, some of the loops in the series will be serialized in Chatter magazine, so warm up your engines.

Life Stories is published on Mondays. Contact Mark Kennedy at [email protected] or 423-757-6645.

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