Staff Spotlight - Matt Bierkan

STAFF SPOTLIGHT – by Kim Carrier
Matt Bierkan

So what is the first thing that comes to mind if I told you about an event in Deals Gap, North Carolina called Wookies in the Woods?  I thought it was a bunch of people running around in Chewbacca costumes from Star Wars which seemed sort of weird upon first glance but then I was even more troubled when I found out that our very own Matt Bierkan (Housing Program Manager in the Employment & Recovery Svcs. Division and who I have a great deal of respect for) attends this thing every year, willingly and with great excitement.  Trying really hard to not be judgie and failing, I asked Matt to elaborate.  Much to my relief, I found out that a Wookie is the nick name for a 2004 or 2008 Volkswagen R32 because of the exhaust sounds its VR6 engine produces.  Because, of these “Wookies” an annual car rally happens every April for Volkswagen R32 and Golf R owners called “Wookies in the Woods”.   So now I’m thinking, it’s great that Matt has such a harmless little hobby (being judgie again) and can get together with his buddies who also get really excited (trying harder not to be judgie) about their VW’s.  Well turns out, over 500 VW enthusiasts (a nice term for nerd) including 200 cars gather at Wookies in the Woods. 

Matt goes on to further explain that the highlight of the event is a stretch of US-129 called the “Dragon”.      In an 11 mile section of this road, there are 318 curves that wind their way through the Smokey Mountains.   Just to re-state… SMOKEY MOUNTAINS… guardrail less roads… cars with bad brakes… stupid tourists who pull over to the side of the road to look at “the beautiful views” (OF WRECKED CARS AT THE BOTTOM OF RAVINES!!).  Ok.. I have to calm down here and I may be projecting a bit but I did find this on the Dragon website…

“Medical help is 30-45 minutes away. The emergency room is at least an hour away. This is no place to be injured.  (does puking your guts out from motion sickness count as an injury?)

 99% of the accidents on the Dragon come from the following:

- Too much speed (guess it’s only too much if you wreck)

- Too much brakes (seems a bit counter intuitive)

- Inattentiveness (guess no singing to the Bee Gees, wait, maybe this is just me)

- Driving above your abilities (a little late to know you lack ability don’t ya think?)

So Matt will be attending the 12th annual Wookies in the Woods in the Smokey Mountains this April for the 8th straight year in his VW Golf R.  Matt confirms his brakes and tires have been checked.  All airbag recalls have been complete.  What could possibly go wrong?  Be safe!  Keep it between the mayo and mustard (yellow and white road lines).