Targa Newfoundland – The Event

The blog will have all the details of our week at Targa.  …it might be sparse for a while as we have virtually no time for blogging and internet access will be limited.   I’ll add more photos later (probably after the event) as time permits.  This morning (Sunday – prologue day) Suzanne and I look pretty relaxed after the drivers meeting:



A note about results, standings, etc.  The best page on the Targa Newfoundland website to find out about current standings is: www.targanewfoundland.com/results/ .  Check this and if you can find the tracking page, we have a GPS unit provided by Targa as one of the few cars provided with this random selection, you can check out where Willy is and has been.  If I can find the specific link, I will post that here.

Sunday – Prologue Day

We started out with a drivers meeting and then some media “stuff” – photos, etc.  Around noon, we “transited” from the Remax Center in St. John’s to “Flatrock” where we did two “prologue stages”.  In each stage, we did pretty well.  Our target time in the first leg was 3:35 for our class and we did 3:15 or so.   In the second leg, they tightened the time to reflect what would happen as the week progressed (times get tighter) and we did a 3:05 our second time through so still beat our target time of 3:20.  This was good news.  We have a small oil leak that is difficult to fix, so will put up with occassional blue smoke unless we are forced to do more permanent repairs.  We have some braking issues to sort out and have a bad synchro in our 3rd gear, but can see our way through that.  

In the second stage, a factory Suburu car rolled (#906) so we had a bit of a delay waiting for the course to clear.  Other than that, it was a great day and the weather was cloudy but cooperative.  Not to be tomorrow.  We will most certainly see rain on our first “real” day but that isn’t bad for us or our car (I like the rain).  We will be up at 5:30 AM tomorrow and headed towards Gander (check the Targa sight for more info).  It will be a long day with many stages.  …should be challenging, but the times to beat won’t be that difficult until later in the week.

Thats all for now – but check back here as the week progresses (assuming I can get time and an internet connection).  If all else fails, just check the Targa sight and you can find some up to date info there.  A few more pics from today:




Day 1 – the “real” Targa event.  …what a day…  Not much time and a lot to report.  Sadly I can’t do many pictures as I’m in Gander with no internet except at the Hotel where Fish and Ed are staying, so I’m typing fast.  …Suzanne and I have ATT so we don’t have mobile service either.  Fortunately this event leaves you no time to reflect on this lack of “connectivity” but thought I would report a few things that happened today.

We pulled up stakes from St. John’s and moved our circus to Gander – well Fish and Suzanne did.  Ed and I transited Willy to Argentia at 0-dark-thirty in pouring down rain weather and “high wind warning” conditions.  My kind of weather!  …well, maybe not that extreme… 

Stage 1, I was a bit nervous, but Ed and I worked well together.  We beat the “targa time” and so my nerves calmed down significantly.  Stage 2 was in Placentia.  I loved this stage!  I’m hoping the in-car video shows the kids on the side of the road outside their house gesturing for us to go faster right before a really aggressive crest in the road.  It was classic!

We transited back to a third stage in Argentia but ran into a problem with the alternator.  Thankfully Open Road Motorsports came through.  Five mechanics descended on Willy and changed the alternator, put in a new ground and had us back on the stage just in time to depart.  This is Targa!  This pic taken during the frantic action:

Day One Alternator Swap

After this stage, we opted not to shut down due to a depleted battery and uncertain charging issues and transited 60 klicks to Osprey.  It was at this point that Ed got an email from his wife letting him know that she was following Willy on the Targa website.  The GPS unit we got apparently is kind of cool as you can follow certain cars (our number is #409) by going to: www.targanewfoundland.com/results/ under “competitor tracking”.  Check it out!

There was a brief stop where some great local folks provided some sandwiches – of course all the local kids came out for “cards” (those hero cards) and to meet the “race car drivers”.  Ed attracted some “kids” who asked him for his autograph:

Day One Fans

…they said the cards were for their kids… 

Stage 4 was a “fast stage” and we seemed to be charging up the battery.  We dared to shut down for a fuel stop and all was well.  Stage 5 was another fast stage – all zero’s so far.  We then transited up to Eastport – a really cool town and I hope to get pics on here next week when I have more than 5 minutes on the internet.  The first stage in this town went great until the very last corner where I ran out of talent in my “late braking” maneuver and overshot the corner, slid through a gravel driveway through the red tape and came within inches of a garage.  ….no problem – I put it in reverse, got back on course and finished the stage just seconds past the “targa time”.  …OK, so I got a few points on my first day – but Willy is in one piece!

After the second round and final stage on the same “circuit”, we did great, beat the time, “zero’d out” and finished strong.  Later, the woman who owned the garage brought her kids up to our car and asked for a “hero card” and said with a smile “I’m the owner of the garage you almost hit”.  She was great, we signed the cards and both Ed and I felt pretty good about our day, the people of Newfoundland and the great attitude towards our sport.

Later in the day, Fish took a few shots:

Monday - Targa Newfoundland

Monday at Targa Newfoundland



We started at the Gander Community Center (hockey rink) in the morning.  Right before we headed out:


Great day until Stage 3.  We started out with a few great stages.  Here’s a picture before stage 2 in Bobby’s Cove – I’m talking to a few of the “Mini guys” – probably trying to explain why I was adjusting tire pressure:

Bobbys Cove - Tuesday

We “zero’d” the first two stages then transited to Pleasantview.  This 3rd stage of the day was a long and fast 28km stage.  We were halfway through putting a lot of time “in the bank” (ahead of our target time) – 32 seconds ahead – when we heard a bang and the all familiar sounds of motor trouble.  I shut down and we coasted a while to find a safe place to pull over.  We put out a triangle and investigated.  …there was a fist sized hole in the side of the case…  Day done.  Ed displays the “OK sign” to fellow competitors some of whom were doing close to 200 km on this stretch:

Signalling  OK

After the final car came through, the “sweep car” stopped and we got a tow to a safer place since the next stage would be the reverse and cars would be coming back through.  They got us off the road annd took off telling us to wait out the next stage.  A tow would be up to us.  Ed investigates:

day done

Willy sitting forlornly on the “sidelines”:

day done - Tuesday Stage 3

We settled in and waited on top of a hill by the car.  Looking down the road that we never made:


On the sidelines

We finally got a ride from our crew back to the small town where we were staged.  They called a tow truck to take us and some fellow competitors who’s Alfa lost all the oil in their engine after hitting something with their oil pan.  Ed decided to wait for the truck so he could get some of his “navigator’s homework” done and Suzanne, Fish and me headed back into Gander.  Around 8:30, the tow truck, Willy and Ed arrived at M & R Automotive in Gander where the owner had graciously allowed us to do our engine swap.  The place where Willy would be for the next 24 hours:

M & R in Gander

Later that night, Jason, Bert and Rick got going on the engine swap.  This was a tough job as we were going from a fuel injected motor to a normally aspirated motor (twin carbs).  They wasted no time:

 Engine Swap - M&R

We were not out of trophy contention, but just hoping to finish.  The best thing Ed and and I could do at this point was hope they could get it done in time for Wednesday and get some sleep.


After struggling until 4 AM to change out the blown fuel injected motor with our twin-carb spare, the awesome mechanics that teamed up to try and get us back on the road today had to pack it in.  They got a few hours sleep and we all re-convened at M&R Motors to try and wrap up the swap.   The problem was a throttle linkage that didn’t get in the parts bin.  There were many other issues – this is not an easy swap – but the linkage was the main slowdown.  We worked feverishly until about noon at which time we had to let the mechanics get back out to a service point to join up with the cars that were still running.  We went with them to try and find a part that would help us out, but no luck.  We returned to Gander and made a decision to rent a dolly and tow Willy to Marystown to join up with the event and give it one last shot Wednesday night.  We had an idea from Jim Froula at Racecraft as to an alternative type of linkage that we could fashion ourselves.  It was our last hope of getting Willy back on the road.  As we towed Willy to Marystown, I took this photo of some construction – it gives you perspective on the roads in Newfoundland:

Route 210 to Marystown


Success!  At 2 AM, Willy fired up and Bert – one of the great mechanics on the team – took Willy out for a test run.  The team had built a few parts from scratch and all was well.  Ed and I didn’t have time to test ourselves - that would happen during the day.  But Willy was back!

It felt great to rejoin Targa as a competitor albeit with a somewhat rough running engine.  We Zero’d the first three stages but took some points in others.  During the day we worked through various problems but ulitimately solved most of them.  …we seemed to be running for every stage after spending time under the hood resolving one thing or the other.

In the morning we had a stop in Harbour Mille.  It was a great stage and before we ran it in the opposite direction there was a breakfast available and a fairly lengthy stop.  The small fishing village was incredibly picturesque and the day was stellar.  Some photos:

Harbour Mille

Harbour Mille Boat

 There were several “in-town” stages today in Garnish, Fortune and Marystown.  In one of these I missed a corner where an arrow sign had fallen down – no excuse – but the calls from Ed were coming fast and furious and I just didn’t make a hard right but went right around a small barrier.  I reversed and got back on course, but a mistake like that will cost you 10 seconds or so.  At this point, it’s somewhat moot since we weren’t in contention after missing a day and a half of competition, but I still felt bad about it.

The final stage of the day was in Marystown.  Fish took some great actions shots of Willy.  A few:

Marystown - Thursday

 Marystown - Stage 9

 Final Stage Thursday - Marystown

After this stage we headed back to the arena in Marystown where The Enterprise was, cleaned up the car, adjusted the carbs (nice job, Ed!) and rolled Willy into the arena.  The place was packed with locals coming to see the cars.   Here is a cute local girl holding her “Flying Rubber Racing Hero Card” and one of our tires that we gave out:

Marystown Local


This morning we woke up early for a 6:30 breathalizer (yes, might have forgotten to mention that every morning starts this way just in case somebody has decided to drink into the night and drive – we passed…).  We were stoked to finish after such adversity earlier in the week.  Our day on Thursday was a real positive when we compared our points for the one day against others – we were competitive!    …but sadly adversity dogged us all day once again.    

The rain was coming down hard all day with some added features like high winds and lightening.  … but I wasn’t bothered.  I figured this could only work to our advantage.  …and it did for the first several stages of the day.  We zero’d 2 out of 3 (on a Friday – the toughest day of Targa).   However, on the way to the 4th stage, Ed pointed out that our voltmeter was reading “12″ – we figured the alternator wasn’t working…  A quick alternator change by our fantastic crew got us into the start of the 4th stage with 2 minutes to spare.  …but that stage ended up getting scrubbed – more on this later as time permits, but in summary it was one of the most treacherous “in-town” stages any of us had ever seen.  It most likely with the rain and “ponds” and other crazy stuff would have taken out half the field.  After that stage on the way to the 5th, Ed dejectedly pointed out that the alternator was out again.  …this just wasn’t possible and there had to be another reason.  Many stops and missed stages later, we think we figured out that the wiring had not been done correctly (missing sensor wire).  We spent quite a bit of time debating what to do and ultimately handed in our card.  ….we did not finish…

We headed back to Pippy Park to rejoin Suzanne and Fish on just battery power and then piled into the rental car to go down to the finish of the race at The Keg Restaurant in St. John’s.  Some photos at the end:

Targa Finish at the Keg

Team Flying Rubber Racing

Done with Targa

We have lot’s of “unresolved issues” here in Newfoundland and have decided to come back and try again next year after we get our car in true “Targa shape”.   Not that our car wasn’t well built – it was – but this grueling all week “torture chamber” called Targa Newfoundland is simply like no other.  There is no room for errors.  The car needs to be tough and sorted.    It’s difficult to describe but the true meaning of how this event is “the ironman of motorsports” has sunk in.  And I love it!

The adventure was amazing and one that I feel fortunate to have been part of.  I have met some very cool people along the way here and feel blessed just to be part of it.  Suzanne, Fish, Ed and I have bonded as a team and under some very difficult circumstances found we could operate well together and all found an important role.  We had a really great team of mechanics in Open Road Motorsports – Jason Byrne, Bert Potvin, Rick Hoyt (there were others, but my memory is short) – these guys were heroic, selfless, dedicated and nothing short of awesome!  Willy tried.  …he really did….  He is part of our family and although I was a bit upset with him today, he tried his damndest.  

Ed Millman – I will go on record saying – is one of the most patient, positive and “salt-of-the-earth” guys I know.  He taught me a lot this week and I am in hopes this is just the beginning of a “contender” rally team.  Fish has proven to be a great friend and we could not have done this without his help and even-keeled demeanor.  …and Suzanne as always was stalwart, positive, supportive and the love of my life.  And to the Racecraft boys back home – a big shout out – ..and get ready for the huge list we are bringing home for Willy  - we’ll get ‘em next year!   …good times, good times…

Tomorrow, we wake up, load Willy in the trailer, gather up our parts from the boys at Open Road Motorsports and head down to catch the ferry to  – hmmm – well wherever it is in Nova Scotia.  I’m sure there will be more stories to tell after that ship ride….

15 comments to Targa Newfoundland – The Event

  • Sue Calvert

    Well done!

  • How about some in-car. Say hello to Big Daddy Ed Millman for me.


  • Michael Yocco


    Sorry to hear about the blowout. Good luck getting the engine replaced tonight.


  • Mark Nolte

    Sad to hear about the motor. Happy that you have a spare. Hope the swap goes smooth.

  • Doug Mill

    What a “bummer-for-your-Bimmer”, Jack … sorry to hear of the misfortune. I’ve really enjoyed following you via your write-ups and photos. What a challenging event for you to stay focused when you’ve never even driven the roads before! … a bit tougher than our 12-hour enduro last October, huh? ;) Hope the new “mill” let’s you see the rest of the scenery! Wishing you and Ed BETTER LUCK to the checkered! Doug

  • Mike Jones

    Damn, sorry to hear about the tossed rod. Had my fingers crossed for you guy’s. Just remind Millman that it’s still going to be a lot better than laying on your respective back(s), in the rain, on some logging road up by Shelton whilst trying to change out a clutch! Best of luck with the second engine. MJ

  • Michelle

    Douh! Sorry about the blown engine; your nephews are cheering for you none the less. Isaac says he hopes you’re “having fun driving really fast.”

  • don boyd

    OH NO!! Michael and I have been having mucho of fun watching your progress as we put the new race motor in HIS car for the fall finale at PRW. Sad to hear your out of trophydom, but hard to expect too much the first foray.
    We had our own little drama yesterday, as I attempted suicide by drill-press, and Dilke had to take me to the hospital to get sown up. All very exciting………with lots of blood and sniveling on my part.
    The motor is ready to brake in, and tuning starts today.
    Wish us luck, as we wish for you finishing targa in good style!

  • don boyd

    Great to hear your back in the race! That is wonderful!

  • Ross

    I would have loved to be there and uder the hood (bonnet) Wednesday night.

  • Lorraine

    Sorry to hear of the problems you encountered, but I bet you’ll kick some serious butt next year!

  • Thanks for blogging, even as a resident of Newfoundland, it’s hard to get the up-to-dates! I LOVE 02’s. You must come back next year.

  • Fish

    Are we there yet?

  • Fish

    Are we there yet? Wisconsin looks a little like home. They even have an UofW.

  • Paul 'Slick' Vink


    Wow! I’m impressed, cool gear! I’ll be sure to take a more indepth and closer look at this site soon! Great stuff!
    See you around, Slick

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