Newfoundland - Australian Connection
you stood in Hobart Tasmania, drilled a hole directly at the centre of the earth
and kept on going, you’d end up in - well, you’d end up somewhere in the
middle of the North Atlantic.
you’d be pretty close to St. John’s Newfoundland.
means that a group of certified car lunatics from Aus will be travelling about
as far as it’s possible to travel in a terrestrial plane to get to the Targa
Newfoundland, which takes place September 13 - 22.
that give you some idea of how much fun THEY think they’re going to have?
father-and-son team of John and Andrew Lawson from South Yarra, Victoria, in a
gorgeous one-of-three-in-the-world supercharged 1938 Alfa Romeo Mille Miglia;
the husband-and-wife team of Len and Gayle Cattlin, from Melbourne, in a
ludicrously fast 1967 Ford Mustang (the Aussies give nothing away to the
Americans in their love of big-bore V8 engines); the husband and wife
competitors of Peter and Kerith Buckingham from Victoria in their
“His-and-Hers” Porsches, his a 1965 911, hers a 1963 356C; and Mark Saxby
from Hobart Tasmania, and Martin Rees from Launceston Tasmania in a Porsche 911
Turbo, will be among the entrants in the first-ever running of this event.
Targa Newfoundland, for those of you who missed our previous stories, is based
upon the wildly successful Targa Tasmania - all these Australian teams have
extensive experience in the Antipodean event.
Targas, Newfoundland and Tasmania, are six-day performance rallies, conducted
primarily but not exclusively for vintage cars, but run exclusively on paved
roads - you wouldn’t want to run YOUR 1938 Alfa Romeo on gravel, now, would
had the immense pleasure of competing in the 2001 Targa Tasmania, courtesy of
Doug Mepham, world-class P.R. dude and world-class vintage rally car fanatic,
whose beautifully-prepped 1971 Volvo carried us bravely and stalwartly to a
strong finish in that year’s event.
the ferry ride back from Tasmania to Melbourne, Doug and I were surmising that
to run an event like this anywhere in North America, you’d need a place where
the locals would welcome strangers, a place isolated enough that you could close
the roads off for half a day or so without bringing the local economy to a
grinding halt, and a place that could use a boost to tourism.
you say ‘Targa Newfoundland’?” I allegedly said - Doug is my witness...
I ran that story in the Toronto Star’s Wheels section, Doug sent it to Bob
Giannou, a well-known race and rally organizer in St. John’s. A few thousand
meetings later, and the Targa Newfoundland is a reality.
rally is sanctioned by the Canadian Association of Rallysport (CARS). Giannou
has enlisted the aid of Octagon Motorsports, the world-wide race and rally
organizing company which also runs the Targa Tasmania. Their expertise, combined
with the enthusiasm of the local governments, the Zone Economic boards in
Newfoundland, and a couple of thousand volunteers, many of whom are “coming
back from away” to participate, will ensure that the Targa Newfoundland runs
as smoothly as possible.
2,300 km route was developed by Ross Wood and John Bellefleur, two of Canada’s
most experienced rally competitors and organizers. The event will start and
finish in St. John’s, and will cover portions of the Avalon, Burin, Notre Dame
and Bonavista peninsulas.
it’ll go through “Dildo” or “Come-by-Chance” - well, you’ll have to
enter to find out.
event is made up of “Touring” or transit stages, run on open roads and
according to strictly enforced local traffic laws. Cars will be given ample time
to complete these stages.
connect the various “Targa”, or timed stages, for which the roads will be
closed to the public, and the cars timed to the second. There will be on average
seven of these per day, running from 1.5 to 43 km in length.
Targa stage will have a “base” time; if a car meets or beats that time, it
“clears” the stage and scores zero penalty points. (Unlike most performance
rallies, there is no advantage in being absolute fastest, or in being under the
car in each class that scores the fewest penalty points wins that class.
addition, each class and category of vehicle is assigned a so-called “Targa”
time, usually about 30 percent slower than the base, predicated on the age,
performance level and modifications allowed for that class and category. If a
car meets or beats the Targa time for each of the 38 Targa stages, it will be
honoured with a “Targa trophy”, the goal of the vast majority of
order to compete in the Targa event, cars require basic minimum safety equipment
such as roll cages and four-point seat belts.
who want to enjoy the scenery, the driving and the camaraderie and spirit of a
monster event like this but don’t want to go to the trouble and expense (not
to mention the bodging of their precious automobile) necessary to properly
outfit a car for competition, can enter the “Trials” class. This will run on
the same roads, even on the Targa stages, but will be scored as a
“time-and-distance” rally, without the stress of high-speed competition.
addition to the Southern Cross All-Stars, there are some well-known Canadian and
American entrants in the event. Tom McGeer, one of the best rally drivers on the
planet and a neighbour of mine from Georgetown Ontario, will forgo his normal
ride, a fully competition-prepped Subaru WRX which has made him a perennial
champion in both Canada and the United States, and drive a 1965 Ford Falcon,
owned and navigated by Mark Williams of Maryland, a long-time endurance rally
competitor who actually won the incredibly difficult Carrera Panamerica one
car is a faithful reproduction of the Falcons which competed in the Monte Carlo
Rally in the mid-‘60s, and will surely be a treat to watch - and listen to.
neighbour, Jud Buchanan, a formidable rally and solo competitor, will team with
Peter Wright in Buchanan’s incredible “Acadian Canso”. Now, there’s a
test for old car fans; that year of Acadian was the Canadian version of the
Chevy II (the name was resurrected in the’70s for a Canadian version of the
Acadian is not what it appears, although the massive tires on 17-inch wheels and
the completely new racing suspension might provide a few clues... Under the hood
is a race-prepped 5.7 litre V8; Jud better be careful when he drops the clutch
on this thing or Newfoundland might find itself 100 metres closer to England.
the more outrageous contenders from the U.S. will be a bright red V_10 Dodge
Viper GT-S coupe, in the hands of Jerry Churchill. U.S.-born but Windsor-raised,
the 62-year old, now residing in Dearborn Michigan, began his motorsport career
decades ago at Bluebird Speedway in Windsor. He has raced stock cars at
Talladega and Daytona, and has a fifth place in the Carrara Panamericana to his
unusual include a rare 1955 Austin-Healey 100S, and a 1951 Citroen Traction
yes - Mepham and I will reprise our Targa Tasmania run in Doug’s Volvo. I hope
he’s got the gasoline smell out of it by now...
these far-flung competitors, Targa Newfoundland organizer Bob Giannou said,
“That competitors of this stature are attracted to our event is really an
honour. Some of these people are going to come half-way around the world to see
Newfoundland and try our event, and that is the biggest vote of confidence this
rally could have.”
you’ve got a vintage car of any description at all - or even a brand new one -
what’s your excuse?
more information about entering the Targa Newfoundland, contact:
Giannou: 709 722 2413
check out the web site:
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