In the 13th year of Targa Newfoundland, competitor Miles Markovic is writing a daily journal for The Globe and Mail as he and teammate Mark Bovey take on the race in a pickup truck. There are 45 competitors racing through 40 stages and three prologues. Photos by Harshad Patil.
Each day is called a leg. Not sure why exactly. Might be an East Coast thing, or favourite appendage. Monday marked the first of the five legs of Targa Newfoundland. Morning started out pretty cool and rainy. All the Targa cars met at a hockey arena for our morning breathalyzer and tech form, them convoyed to the stage starts.
The organizers pulled the first two stages off the schedule. We drove to the stage and it seemed obvious what had happened. A road work crew had invaded over the weekend and started pulling up the tarmac. I’ve never gone to a race on race day only to find the track was dug up overnight.
We just kept on truckin’. Third stage was called Colliers/Conception Harbour. The thing I remember the most about it was the downhill roads towards the ocean to a sharp left. Twice in the same stage, you find yourself booking it through some amazing winding roads – come around the corner and find yourself staring out at the ocean. You can’t stare too long, because you have to turn soon to keep from driving into it.
Next stage: Marysville. Very bumpy in areas. If the Targa Truck had fillings in its teeth, they may have been knocked loose. The big spectacle for fans was a jump over Route 60. A couple cars got some good air. Targa Truck however kept its feet firmly planted on the road. Sure, Targa Truck could have launched itself into the air with ease, it’s just the 4,000 pounds of Detroit-engineered steel coming to sudden stop at the other end of the jump that troubled us. I used a lot of highlighter on that warning page in the course notes. Still, the stage already shook a plug wire off the block. Thankfully the other seven cylinders rose to the occasion.
Georges Brook was next. It was 24-kilometres long with long stretches of high-speed sweeping turns. Targa Truck was hitting 185 km/h in places. In these parts of the stages, the truck just came alive. Blew by three cars in the first pass-through. There’s a scared VW out there right now developing an irrational fear of vintage race trucks.
Burgoynes Cove was the last stage of the day. It’s basically George’s Brook just run the other direction but for whatever reason, it seems faster coming back. We were re-gridded in a way to keep us away from the slower cars, but we still caught up to an M3-powered BMW towards the end that was sent out 30 seconds ahead of us.
Towards the end of the day, all the stages started to become a blur. I noticed that when all the drivers were trying to describe their favourite parts of the day, they were mixing up the locations and even throwing in reference from yesterday’s event. Just goes to show you how many awesome corners we’ve attacked in such a short amount of time.
Targa Truck now sits in third place in our division. In Marysville, we beat a Porsche 911 by three seconds. In overall points, the 911 is still ahead, but at least we know it’s possible. The Rogers/Strupp Mustang seems unstoppable right now. But it is a long event. A bad day can move a good driver from first to last.
Back in the arena for a car wash and tune. We noticed the tips of the spark plugs had started to unscrew which is likely what caused the one plug wire to pop off. A full plug replacement, and problem solved. We also re-wired our trip computer and added few more bins to the bed for route storage.
Speaking of the truck bed, Targa Truck fans are now invited into our bed for pictures with the truck. What other Targa car would you ever be able to stand on top of and pose for a picture? That bed is big, like Texas-big. Have you seen our Scoggie-Dickey Chevrolet Performance decal on the bed? Big trucks need big logos and big hearted sponsors like the guys where our 427 LSX motor came from.
Team information is available on facebook.com/targatruck.