- Monday, September 16, 2002; St. John’s / Beachy Cove
rallying gained about 500 new fans - and maybe a few future rally stars - today,
as students of Beachy Cove Elementary School in Portugal Cove/St. Phillip’s
Newfoundland braved the rain to give the participants in the Targa Newfoundland
an incredible welcome at the lunch stop of the “Prologue Day” for the event.
cafeteria of the Kindergarten-to-Grade Six school was decorated with posters
made by the kids, proclaiming such sentiments as “Targa Rules!” and “Targa
think there’s a little Newfoundland joke in there somewhere...).
few of the rally participants had ever been peppered with autograph requests
before. It’s an experience not even the most jaded rallyists will likely ever
food was good too...
young man named Spencer said he knew I was from Ontario “...because you look
like Ron McLean of Hockey Night in Canada.”
least he didn’t say “Don Cherry”...
manifestation of Newfoundland hospitality was the treatment afforded perennial
Canadian rally champion Tom McGeer and co-driver Mark Williams last night, after
McGeer rolled Williams’ 1965 Ford Falcon onto its side during Sunday’s
demonstration runs around the Newfoundland provincial government buildings in
Confederation Park, badly damaging the rear axle assembly.
the time the car was back on its four wheels again, offers of help were already
were polled, a sand blaster brought his equipment to a shop at 11 p.m. to clean
up some scavenged parts, an auto parts supply store opened its doors at midnight
on a Sunday so seals, gaskets and the like could be sourced - and the car was
back in the running by the second Prologue stage on Monday.
official start of the Targa Newfoundland on Monday morning found Newfoundland
Premier Roger Grimes riding shotgun in the rare and valuable 1938 Alfa Romeo
Mille Miglia Spyder of John Lawson, from Melbourne Australia. Premier Grimes has
been a major supporter of this event from the get-go, for the publicity and
tourism dollars it is attracting to the province.
“Prologue” consists of a couple of fairly short stages over closed roads,
designed to determine the relative speeds of the cars so they can be
“seeded” for the real rallying, which begins Tuesday.
a conventional performance rally, the cars in a Targa-type event are run in
inverse order of speed, the slower cars first, followed by the faster ones. The
idea is that this “collapses” the crocodile of cars, rather than expanding
it, so the roads need be closed for the least amount of time possible.
cars are started at one minute intervals; since the stages are relatively short,
there isn’t as much passing as you might expect.
results of the Prologue indicated that the Australian contingent, with lots of
experience in the Targa Tasmania upon which the Targa Newfoundland is modelled,
had little trouble adapting to driving on the wrong side of the road, or on the
wrong side of the world.
fastest qualifier is the 1995 Porsche 911 Turbo of Mark Saxby and Martin Rees of
Launceston Tasmania, followed by Len and Gayle Cattlin of Melbourne Australia,
in their 1967 Ford Mustang.
biggest surprise of the day was the remarkable showing of John Cassidy IV in a
1994 Subaru Impreza. Despite the monstrous rally driving/fog lamps on the front
of this car, it is basically stock, with a modestly-powered 1.8 litre engine.
won an entry to the Targa Newfoundland just the weekend previous, as a prize at
normal co-driver and crew couldn’t get away on such short notice, so Cassidy
drove up from the States on spec, in hopes of finding a co-driver.
Carrick from Ottawa made it a “Can-Am” team by volunteering to navigate. Steve even borrowed my extra driving
suit - he hadn't brought his own since he expected to help work the
rally, not participate in it. They finished the Prologue in third place, in
front of some pretty impressive machinery, such as Jerry Churchill’s huge
Viper GT-S coupe.
rained most of the day, and the combination of low power, four-wheel drive and
Cassidy’s skilful driving was just the ticket.
driver, the quick and tidy Doug Mepham, pedalled his 1971 Volvo 142S to a very
respectable ninth spot overall, aided by the amazing grip of the Nokian tires
which didn’t seem to know the road surface was wet.
car did find that out - the hard way. The 1965 Sunbeam Tiger of Jono Fryer and
Peter Sullivan, quite literally a basket case only a couple of weeks ago and
with only about 280 miles on it prior to arriving in St. John’s, did some
high-speed farming on the second Prologue stage. Jono re-aggravated a recurring
back muscle spasm problem, but otherwise, the occupants were shaken rather than
car wasn’t so lucky. Suspension damage and perhaps some frame tweaking are
being investigated as I type; we’ll see if another Newfoundland all-nighter
can have it back in the field by Tuesday, or if the Targa Newfoundland has
claimed its first victim.
rally has generated its first round of controversy. The aforementioned Jerry
Churchill, Detroit-born, Windsor-raised and once again a resident of Michigan,
was quoted in today’s St. John’s Telegram complaining about the quality of
the road surfaces in the St. John’s area.
this guy is from MICHIGAN!!?!...
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