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Flavour of Deep South PLUS

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I need some help planning a trip - where to go, what to see and very importantly how to fit in certain sports related items (for me). My wife and I are from England in our late 50s and just retired. We are flying into Washington on 11th Oct, hiring an RV and working our way down to Atlanta for 22nd Oct. We then return the RV and switch to a car, flying out of Houston on 5th Nov. Nothing else is planned yet.

I am reasonably relaxed about wondering down the Appalachians in the RV having had one before on the West coast. However, any suggestion of routes or what not to miss would be appreciated.

My real concern is the second half of our trip in the car. Other than needing to end up in Houston, I really have no idea where to go. I assume that we really should see New Orleans and this does appeal to me, but what about some of the other big name places we have heard of e.g. Chattanooga, Nashville, Memphis etc. Worth a visit or not?

Where do we go to get a good flavour of the South. People, food and scenery would be our interests plus....
This is the big one for me - I have a life long interest in cars and motorsports and would desperately love to include anything to do with hot rods/customs, Nascar, Drag Racing and any other more unusual events that you Yanks do so well. Anything big happening late Oct / early Nov between Atlanta and Houston? How do I find out about smaller events? Do I search by state? or by city? or via clubs or associations. Help!

Thank you all in anticipation.

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