In North Georgia, demolish cars behind the wheel of a tank

At Tank Town USA in Morganton, visitors can bash a junker with a sledgehammer before crushing it with an armored personnel carrier

Writer Dana Hudepohl perched atop one of Tank Town USA’s armored personnel carrier

I’m less than 10 minutes from North Georgia’s tranquil Lake Blue Ridge, surrounded by forest, open sky, and chirping birds. But these six barren acres are a whole other world of exhaust fumes, mud, and piles of old cars. As I walk onto the property, a giddy guest greets us with, “Y’all are in for a treat! I don’t think a smile will be comin’ off your faces!”

Welcome to Tank Town USA in Morganton where visitors can spray paint a junker with graffiti, bash it with a sledgehammer, and—in a grand finale—demolish it with an armored personnel carrier. (Other offerings: operate an excavator, spray 600 bullets a minute from a machine gun, or simply take the tank for a spin.)

In the past 11 years, a wide range of customers have crushed some 4,000 cars. A wife who beat cancer. A husband with dementia. A 91-year-old World War II D-Day vet. A mom treating her new teen drivers. Corporate team building. Bachelor parties.

Now it’s my turn. Owner Todd Liebross secures the seatbelt for my brave friend, Jen, her legs dangling from a seat mounted to the roof. I lower myself into the driver’s hatch and secure earmuffs to quiet the motor’s roar. In real time, Liebross talks me through the delicate dance between pressing the gas and pulling the steering levers as I—gripping tightly and clenching every muscle in my body—snake the massive hunk of steel through the scrapyard, climbing hills and maneuvering curves, dirt spitting into the air with each squealing tread rotation.

In a grand finale, guests are afforded the opportunity to demolish designated junkers

Courtesy of Tank Town USA

I brake in front of my designated junker, as if on the precipice of a roller coaster drop, unsure what will happen when I step on the gas again. Then, holding my breath, I do. The hood crushes. Glass shatters. And I barely feel a thing under the 30,000-pound razer. I massage my tense jaw and return home with video proof—and a photo of myself flexing atop the massive vehicle—to blow the minds of my family and friends.

This article appears in the Spring 2024 issue of Southbound.