|My Take: Targa 2005
||Todd - Friday, September 23, 2005 | 15:21
I've been home for about 12 hours now and the memories of Targa 2005
are already starting to vanish. In the next couple of pages, I'll do my
best to capture the events, actions, blunders and successes that we
experienced. The main feeling that I have right now is one of
accomplishment; Karl and I spent the last 6 months of our lives to run
the last 14 days. We ran all the stages, we didn't crash, we didn't
work on the car, we finished. This is all we set out to do. Others
(competitors and other participants) were not so fortunate.
As with last year, there were some pretty neat cars: lots of heavily
race prepped 911s, an SR20'd Datsun 510, multiple turbocharged Hondas,
a gullwing Merc, a Ferrari, etc. But my enthusiasm for the cars is
truly nothing compared to my enthusiasm for the people I met this year.
I'm starting to understand that it's not the hardware that makes racing
addictive, it's the people that you do it with. Now that it is over,
I've been googling all the people that we raced - I don't really care
about their cars, I want to find out more about them: from super Honda
tuner Matt Koestner to the scratch-talking John Becker. What an insane
cast of characters...
The following work of non-fiction covers our departure on Sept. 8th to our return on Sept. 21st.
DAY ONE - 9/8/05
I set my alarm clock for 0500 but snoozed to 0600. The entire morning was filled with a flurry of last minute duties:
print driver/co-driver stickers for car door
cut out 814 stickers
do a couple last minute chores for work (banner ad changes and various changes for Hodgsonfarm.com website)
Last night, we went out to discuss departure times with JD 'Good Afternoon, Donation' Turner and Jon 'Stew Bum' Ackerson.
owns a towing company and will be supplying the trailer and the tow
vehicle (2004 Hummer H2) for our trip. We will be towing his 1987
Porsche 911 Carrera and our 1992 BMW 325is (95 M3 drivetrain and
brakes) with this rig.
We all agreed that 1200-1330 departure time would be ample to
make it to the 1530 Ferry to St. John's, NL in North Sydney, NS. Last
year we made the mistake of leaving at 0800 for that ferry; we got in
at 0330 (19.5 hours total) and had to poke around N. Sydney for 15+
hours... not fun. Since we've never used the H2 to tow two cars, a 6
hour window feels safe but not overly wide.
I get a call from Karl at 0830. He has not left NYC yet. Good, I have
another 2 hours to get ready to leave. I start loading the car up at
0945 with the following items:
2 large bags
1 small bag
2 brake rotor blanks
pipe insulation foam for roll cage
safety harnesses still in the box
jack stands and a jack
I forget the following items:
Bentley BMW E36 repair manual
Wheel well lining
With the car fully loaded, I head out to Karl's parent's house. Along
the way, I stop at Laura's job and say 'goodbye' to her one last time.
When I pull into the Apfel's driveway, Karl is already packed up and
ready to go; however, we have some additional work to do on the car. We
put fresh pads and rotors on the front of the car. We would have done
this a couple days ago, but Brembo packed the wrong side rotor in the
box so we had to re-order a replacement from Turner Motorsports.
At around 1200, Jon calls. He says that he has some "things to do" and
that he is running a little behind schedule. We take a quick lunch of
leftover roast beef at the Apfel house and depart at 1300. JD has
already left us a couple of worried messages - "Where are you guys...
You were supposed to be here at 1100... Cracks in the ice..."
We arrive at JD's house in Newburgh, NY at 1315. The H2 is
already loaded up with the trailer and Porsche. The trailer has a
tow-dolly 'cradle' on the back that we will be using to tow the BMW. We
tried to use this last year with the Mustang and it was a fiasco since
we didn't have basket straps. This year we have the basket straps, but
they are not the correct ones. Something is better than nothing, I
We let one of JD's towing guys hook the BMW up to the cradle. He does
an admirable job hooking up the basket straps, but he hooks the safety
ratchet straps to the body of the trailer... really tight. More about
While our car is getting hooked up, Jon "Arthur Ponzirelli" Ackerson arrives.
BS immediately starts flying out of his mouth.
"I thought we agreed that we were leaving at 1500.
I told my guys that we weren't leaving until then. I have to wait for
them. They don't know how to get up to the ferry... Also, I don't think
the H2 can haul this much weight. It looks unsafe.
Bob Della Rocco is on his way from Derry, NH to my house. We will be
taking his 2005 Jeep up there. The other crew member, 'Joe', is driving
up from the city.
I'm meeting my people at my place at 1500, we will leave from there and catch up with you on the road."
So Ponzirelli delivers his first f*ck you of the trip
by backing out of the drive to N. Sydney. It's interesting to note that
we all sat at a table last night and agreed to leave at 1300. Although
it will be a little tougher with just Karl and myself, we've done it
before and we'll be in the roomy and relatively luxurious Hummer H2.
Earlier in the day, JD sent one of his employees out to get some 8.8
bolts so we could complete the install of our safety harnesses; we meet
him at the Citgo where route 52 meets I84.
We pull over along route 52 across the street from the gas
station. I can clearly see a NYDOT State Trooper Van parked at the
onramp to I84 east. Karl and I both note his presence and hope that
he'll be gone by the time we are done with our bolt pickup and shopping
spree at the Citgo.
As soon as we complete our left turn onto the onramp, our boy hits the lights.
"You can't do this. It's illegal. You need to have the entire
car on the trailer. License and registrations for all these vehicles...
I'm calling a tow truck!"
Oh sh*t. This guy is going to take a giant dump on our little
road trip. Suddenly, the 6 hour window starts to look like a 15 minute
one. Since the BMW is insured, registered and inspected, we are able to
drop it off the trailer. Our rig is now legal. Luckily, the DOT trooper
isn't in Robocop-mode - he lets us go with a warning and some sage
advice: "If it doesn't look right, it's probably not."
As soon as we cross the New York border into Connecticut, we hook the BMW back up to the trailer.
It's a pretty smooth trip up until we get to the outer loop of
495 near Boston - there is a 35 mile traffic jam. We inputted our route
into the Hummers nav system so when we get of at the first available
exit, it creates a new route for us. Unfortunately, it takes us through
some of the twistiest, up-and-down-hill roads ever.
Karl and I like the diversion from the interstate: every old
house with some peeling paint is a potential fixer-upper with lots of
character -- the tow-dolly does not like the diversion: it throws the
passenger side wheel of the BMW out of the cradle/basket strap on one
of our sharper turns. We get out and re-ratchet strap the car in. When
we are less manic, Karl realizes that the safety straps should be
attached to the cradle NOT the body of the trailer. When we make tight
turns, the straps tighten up and pull the car off of the cradle.
We do not become less manic until the return trip and the car throws
the basket straps off a couple more times before we reach North Sydney,
At around 2100, we get an update from JD about Jon's trip: he
hasn't left yet because his 'guys' got stuck in traffic. He will be
flying into St. John's instead.
DAY TWO - 9/9/05The remainder of the morning is spent without
incident. Karl sleeps for a couple hours while I take the 2300 to 0600
shift. Which was about the only driving I do the entire way.
We arrive in N. Sydney at 1330 - almost 24 hours after we left
Newburgh. As usual, there is some confusion with our reservations on
the ferry. It turns out that the reservations were booked under the
wrong name. Karl was trying to straighten out that mess, I booked my
passage on the ferry; one way ticket plus dormitory sleeper: $76.
Karl called JD during the reservation fiasco to try and clear things
up. That did not happen; however, JD did tell us that Bob Della Rocco
was at the ferry. We thought it was another one of Jon's lies, but what
do you know, here comes Bob walking across the staging area!
We don't have any time to chat because the ferry has begun loading. We tell Bob to meet us in the Winter Bar onboard the boat.
We park the Hummer in the enormous hull of the ferry and make
our way up to the bar. Karl stakes out a place next to the outlet and
plugs his dead cell phone in.
I bought a small bag with a change of clothes, towel, toothbrush,
deodorant and flip-flops. Before the boat even leaves the dock, I put
on my flip-flops and take a long hot shower. By the time I get out, Bob
has joined Karl and there is a round of Alexander Keith's Beer on the
table. I feel like a new man.
Over the last couple of months, Bob has taken part in a few of
Ackerson's hair-brained 11thhourracing.com adventures: VW Waterfest and
Rally New York. We got JD's side of the story for these two
misadventures, so it was nice to get the rest of it from Bob over a
couple of beers.
VW WATERFESTAfter Bob finished his side of the story, I felt doubly
blessed that I told Jon to take a hike in April. If we were willing to
be part of his 'team' he offered us US$1000 towards TNL2005... I
not-so-kindly refused; I could imagine the ugly little strings that
would come attached with his imaginary money.
Last year, Jon put together
a wedding video-style movie of our experiences at TNL2004; he managed
to sidle US$10,000 from JD to produce it.
In order to keep JD from completely cutting him off, Jon had to come up
with some ways to sell the DVD: Volkswagen Waterfest is the premier
gathering of VW enthusiasts on the east coast. For some reason, Jon
thought it would be a great place to sell his DVD. It was about this
time that Jon roped Bob into his 11thhourracing.com scam. So, Jon
'Ponzi' Ackerson 'booked' three hotel rooms (one for JD, one for Bob,
and one for Jon) and he also 'secured' a vendor area to sell/promote
the DVD at the event.
Eager to sell the movie, JD agreed to the Waterfest venture. Per Jon's
request, he would tow the Porsche 911 with the Hummer down to
Englishtown. At some point, Jon said that the Hummer would not be
necessary: he had procured the use of a prototype VW SUV to tow the 911
(huh?!). Jon also claimed that he had a trailer that was 'ready to go'
to tow the 911.
On Saturday July 16th at 0700, JD drove out to a rest stop on the Thruway so it would be easy for Jon to pick him up.
0800: No show. Several phone calls to Jon.
0900: No show and no answer to repeated phone calls.
1000: JD decides that it ain't happening - goes to start the 911. It won't start.
1300: JD gets a tow from Thruway authorized tow truck.
1500: JD finally gets a phone call from Jon: "Today is just not a good day for it."
Later on, I asked Jon how Waterfest was. He gave me a short
account of the event: lots of great Volkswagens, cops, flooding, girls,
Jon did not go to Waterfest. He simply rehashed Bob's story as if it were his own experience.
RALLY NEW YORK
On July 24th, there was a gravel rally in
Sullivan County, New York. JD decided he needed some practice for the
upcoming Targa event. Against better judgment, he decided that he would
take his 1990 Mustang GT to the one-day event.
Jon was also 'going to enter' Bob's 1984 VW Jetta in the
event. It was under this pretense that Bob towed his car down to Jon's
house a month prior... However, 'some things came up' and the Jetta is
in the same place that he left it.
The event starts at 8am, so JD left his house at 6am. This would leave him plenty of time to get registered and prepped.
0700: Jon wakes up 2 hours late.
0815: He took one of his piece of sh!t cars and it broke down
along the way. They had to back track to Jon's house to get another car
to take to the event. JD is at the event: the way-too-low Mustang has a
snowball's chance of competing in the rally.
1000: Jon didn't bring directions to the event. He is lost in Sullivan County.
1230: Jon is lost in Sullivan County
1530: Jon finds the event and it is almost over. JD is long gone.
TARGA NEWFOUNDLAND 2005
In Fantasyland: Jon decided that the
11thhourracing.com team would consist of Bob's 1984 Jetta and JD's 1987
911. To that end, Jon had one of his mechanics outfit the Jetta with a
roll cage, supercharger, a paint job and tons of mechanical R&R. He
also did some work on the 911. As the team owner, he would be paying
all entry fees and accommodations for the drivers and co-drivers.
Back in reality: The Jetta never moved from the spot that Bob
left it 3 months ago. JD's mechanic fixed the 911. No accommodations or
entry fees were paid. This forced JD to make sub-standard last minute
arrangements (see Terra Nova Golf Resort).
By this time, we are 4 Keith's in and the 24-hour drive is
starting to catch up with me. Last year, we slept in what amounted to
non-reclining airplane seats. We didn't book a bed because someone said
it wasn't worth it. They were wrong. The accommodations (bunk bed,
blanket and pillow) aren't great but after a 24-hour drive, any flat,
soft surface is much welcomed.
Bob and Karl go to their trucker's berth (a room with 5 bunks)
and I make my way to the dorm -- I'm asleep before my head hits the
DAY THREE - 9/10/05The ferry pulls into Argentia, NL at around
0500. The port of Argentia is a rocky wasteland with some
industrial/oil refinery-looking structures scattered along the shores.
Not the greatest introduction to NL's awesome landscape, but the large
rocky 'heads' that slope down to the bay are pretty cool.
We don't take any of this in. We stay in the cafeteria ("2
coffees, please...") until the boat is docked. Once the message to
disembark comes over the ship's intercom in English and French, we make
our way to the Hummer. Within a few minutes, we pull out of the ferry
and line up in the staging area with the other Targa competitors that
were on the ferry.
I've been corresponding with some of the other BMW Targa people; this
is my first opportunity to introduce myself in person to one of them.
Dave Mcintyre helped send out the SOS when we were having problems
putting our car together - as is usually the case, he was even nicer in
person than in email!
After admiring several other competitors rides, we caravan to
the port town of Placentia for breakfast at the community center. For
$7, we are treated to as much eggs, bacon and taters as we can eat.
Seating is a little tight in the dining area so Karl, Bob and I split
I sit at a table with Tony Kloosterman and his crew. They are
campaigning a 2002 Subaru WRX. This crew will have an insane time at
Targa 2005 - in seven days, they will win the not-so-coveted Spirit of
Also at the table is the mechanic for Si Ford's 1967 Mercury Comet. His 2yo son keeps us entertained with his eating habits.
Karl sat at the table behind me. The notable personalities at
his table were Alex Roethe - the maniac who bought a mint MB 300 SL
gullwing -- and John Becker - just a maniac.
have a lot to do today so I prod Karl into leaving a little earlier
than the Targa caravan. We unload the BMW from the trailer for the 1.5
hour trip into St. John's. A couple months ago, I picked up some junk
225/50/17 tires so we could see how the wrecked M3 donor car drove; we
used these wheels and tires for towing the car from NY. So the
///M330is has 235/40/17 tires on the front and mismatched 225/50/17s on
It drives like sh!t.
Newfoundland roads come in many varieties. The most prominent
are RUTTED and WASHBOARD. Route 100 and TCH-2 to St. John's are the
rutted type. I'm fine with driving on rutted roads, but there has been
a steady downpour since we left Placentia. The ruts have filled up with
3cm of standing water in spots. Since we neglected to put the wipers on
the car, it is almost impossible to see where the rain has pooled.
The drive goes something like this: Speed up to 100km. Get
pushed towards opposing lane. Hit 2cm of water. Hydroplane. sh!t pants.
Slow down to 50km.
It takes almost 2.5 hours for the 137km trip to St. John's.
We drive directly to JD's hotel room at the Holiday Inn on
Portugal Cove Road. We off-load the Porsche and proceed to Canadian
Tire to get our tires mounted. If you are in a hurry to get something
relatively simple done, Canadian Tire is not the right place to go. We
sat around for over an hour waiting for our tires to be mounted. During
this time, we watched the 'technicians' do absolutely NO WORK. Karl
made good use of the time by mounting a new set of windshield wipers.
These would get lots of use over the next week.
Mile One Stadium was the usual hive of activity: Cars coming in and
out, people running around, cars being started then turned back off,
etc. Since Karl and I like doing things at the absolutely last possible
minute, we still need to finish paying for our entry. We find a very
unhappy looking Frank Nossereau in the registration area. He has a line
of people asking him questions and telling him things. We tell him that
we will complete our registration and our first aid course then we will
pay our balance.
This year CARS, the licensing body for Targa, requires that all
competitors have first aid training. In the tradition of Targa, we take
an abbreviated first aid course. Aside from lots of stupid non-first
aid questions by other competitors, we get through it relatively
quickly. The highlight of the course was, Rod, the instructor. We
didn't realize how funny he was until we saw him ever night with a
smoke and a beer in his hand. Although the course was only 2 hours
long, we still need to get our tires mounted, harnesses installed, rear
window resealed, roll bar padding installed, stickers applied, tech
inspections, etc. We are behind schedule.
The course is over at approximately 1500, I head out with Bob
to another tire place. We ratchet strap our Falken's to the trailer and
drive to City Tire to have them mounted. We shoot the breeze about
cars, Katrina, New Orleans, Florida, the economy, etc with the owner of
the shop and some other guy that has a lawnmower repair/rental business
out of the same building. $50 + 30 minutes and all the tires are
mounted and balanced.
We return to Mile One and Karl has the rear window sealed in
and the roll cage padding on. We mount the wheels back on the car.
While we are doing this, we notice a fair bit of play in the LH
tie-rod. We apply the "don't-ask-don't-tell" theory to it and start
applying the stickers. The car show has started, so random spectators
come up to our car and talk with us. A kid of around 12 or 13 years
helps us put the stickers on the car; his mother also helps out. They
are originally from the NY Metro area (Englewood, NJ?) and are
traveling around the world over the next year.
By 1900, we have the car finished except for the harnesses. We should
have bought 2 of the seat belt bolts from the stock car with us. Ooops.
At about this time, Ackerson arrives. He's eager to help out, so we ask
him to go to the Canadian Tire to try and find a bolt that matches the
one from the seat.
When I hand over the bolt, I tell him that if he loses the bolt, I will kill him.
He loses the bolt.
The bolts he does bring back are the wrong pitch. But we are able to
use them on other areas of the harness mounting. The BMW has a double
wall frame in some spots, so longer bolts than what Juan gave us back
at the Citgo in Newburgh are necessary.
Karl, in a fit of insanity and frustration, tries to screw the
wrong pitch bolts into the seats. He only succeeds in stripping out the
bolt hole. He later explains to me that he's done this before and it
has worked! WTF? It's about this time that I start to panic.
Out of nowhere, Dave McIntyre appears. I explain the situation to him.
"I know those bolts, I have a few." He hooks us up and we are good to
go. Important lesson: ask the other BMW guys before you do stupid sh!t
(like letting Ackerson do anything important). We get the belts in and
the car passes tech except for a fire extinguisher, which I will pick
up the next morning.
It's now 2115 and we are shot and very hungry. We head over to
our favorite local restaurant - Jungle Jim's. For those of you who've
never been, it's like a low-budget Fridays or Chili's. Open late with
sh!tty food at a decent price. Karl and I both have the fish and chips
- I remember from last year that although Jungle Jim is a handsome and
brave explorer, he can't cook a hamburger for sh!t. Fish and chips:
good. Hamburgers: bad. I get a little pissy when I realize that the
tartar sauce isn't homemade, but Karl pulls me back into reality: "It's
only mayonnaise and relish, asshole."
After our meal, there is a Meet and Greet at the Martini Bar on George
Street. George Street is blocked off to celebrate the End of Summer
Bash. We have tickets to get in up to 2130 - it's now 2245. Karl tries
every trick in the book, but they won't let him in. He cuts a deal to
go to the Martini Bar to see if JD et al are still there. JD is not
only in the Martini Bar, he is running it. He has a stack of BOGO
Molson tickets that he is handing out like there is no tomorrow.
Problem: the guys at the gate still won't let us in. I have some
Canadian money so I buy two tickets to the End of Summer Bash: $20
later and we are in.
As usual, JD is chatting up some ladies with his oddball
shtick: "I'm a proctologist. Here, smell my finger!" I also get to
watch Jon scare off some women at the bar: close talking, bullsh!t and
touching are obvious turn-offs. At some point I manage to get a hold of
JD's cell; I make a 10 minute call to Laura. Everything is good, but I
already miss her.
By 0330, I am totally shot. After a late night snack of
McDonalds, we head to the Hotel St. John's with Bob and Jon.
Surprisingly, Jon has reservations lined up.
DAY FOUR - 9/11/05We leave the hotel at around 0730. The
weather is absolutely dreadful: rainy, cold and windy. It feels like a
late February day in NY.
We head over to Oscar's Restaurant on Duckworth Street. Oscar's is
about 5 minutes away from the stadium. I'm trying to stay away from
meat on this trip so I have the Stagehand Special sans bacon. It's
basically two eggs over easy with two slices of toast - a perfect meal
to start the day.
JD came up to Targa this year without a co-driver. Since it was coming
down to the wire, JD agreed to take Bob on only if he could produce
half the entry fee. Jon stepped up and claimed that he would pay the
entry fee before the race was over.
At 0800, we are in the stadium. I run out to Canadian Tire with Bob. I
pick up a wristwatch (for navigation purposes), two 5BC fire
extinguishers and some hose clamps to mount the fire extinguisher. The
hose clamps turn out to be too large for the fire extinguisher - oops.
Once we have the fire extinguishers, we get a pass from the
tech inspector. This happens just in time to go to the Compulsory Crew
Briefing in the EB Foran Room of City Hall (next door to Mile One). The
briefing is much faster than last year; I think they can do without the
Maxxim Vacations segment though. The briefing is basically a final
chance to reinforce that the journey that we are about to embark on is
DANGEROUS and should be taken with the utmost SERIOUSNESS.
Next up is the group photo. As the photographer goes through
the motions, I look around and wonder who'll crash first... Our time to
leave the stadium is 1150. We are placed between a 1991 Suzuki Swift
Gti (Richard Martin and Larry Moore of Thunder Bay) and a 1995 Acura
Integra Turbo (Newfoundlanders Brian Oldford and John Harris). We
caravan over to The Keg - a new steakhouse down on the waterfront and
then start our transit to the first prologue stage: Pleasantville.
Last year we ran Pleasantville on the first day. It's a pretty tricky
course: lots of blind acute turns in a small apartment
complex/subdivision. I think the organizers are sending us a message:
it's not going to be as easy as it was last year!
When we get to the staging area, the weather has not let up at all. The
staging to a time control is usually a little social hour. You chat
with the guys in front of you and behind you, etc. Due to the weather
and lack of familiarity with our co-competitors, we sit in the car and
go over the course and get ourselves ready for the first run of the
race. Tommy Collingwood has done some new mods (Corvette GS heads, etc)
to his 1996 Pontiac Firebird: it is now far louder than any of the
other cars and it makes an awful stink. Karl and I develop small
headaches from being near their car.
After about a half hour we make our way to the start line.
I read the directions from the route book as Karl jams through the
course. I call out a caution: "Sunken drain in the center of the road.
Keep right" Karl hits it full on. Later I lose my place in the route
book. I tell Karl to just "drive what he sees" (I learned this phrase
from Karl Vucich last year).
At one point, Oldford's Integra gets on our ass. I tell Karl to let him
get passed us. He says NO WAY! As soon as there is a good straighaway,
Karl lets him get by.
In 3 minutes the stage is over. Wow. This sh!t is still crazy!
The BMW sways as bad as the Mustang but it has 4 times the brakes. At
no point during the stage did we actuate the ABS! The M3 brakes are
There is a short transit to lunch at the Cape St. Francis
School. We are treated to Subway(tm) sandwiches, sodas and chili. After
lunch, there are a few people standing around the hallways of the
school. Standing next to the exit are Californians Peter Gaugenti and
Scott Smith. When we were having our problems with the swap, Scott
emailed me a couple tips.
We sat with Scott and Peter for lunch in Burin last year. Also at the
table in Burin was the unforgettably eccentric Mark Cotnam. Mark was
rambling on about Le Mans and the good old days of open wheel racing.
The California Guys started going on about Sears Point and how the
residents hated the noise, etc, etc. One thing led to another and we
started discussing the problems we had up to that point: broken rotors,
blown clutch, terrible brakes, etc. Peter is a very knowledgeable guy;
he made a comment that since we didn't flush the brake system properly,
we probably saw no real benefit from our fancy $30 a bottle silicon
brake fluid. This left a very negative impression on Karl ("I hate
people like that!"). I kind of like super tech nerd sh!t, so I found
Peter's pontificating pretty interesting.
So I walked up to Scott at the Cape St. Francis School and said, "Scott
Smith? We were having some problems with our S50 swap and you emailed
me. I just wanted to say thanks."
"Is your name Todd or something?"
"Todd Faulls, pleased to meet you."
Peter jumped in and introduced himself and I called Karl over. More
introductions and then we shot the sh!t for a minute or two; our out
time was approaching so we cut it short and proceed to the car.
The weather had actually gotten a fair bit worse than the
morning. It's windier, colder and even more rainy! Getting into the
cramped but warm cockpit of the Bimmer is a welcome relief from the
The next stage is Flatrock. It's a 4.75KM course that consists
of lots of twists and turns. Judging from the route book, I know that
it will be a pretty fast course with only a handful of hard turns.
While we are waiting to start the stage, there is another hold-up. This
time we get to see what the problem is: team 412 in the red 1966 MG has
had a terrible accident. The entire front of the car is smashed in.
Without a heavy night of massaging and lots of cash, this car is
finished. We later learn that the co-driver compound fractured a leg in
the accident. This is the first casualty of the Newfoundland roads,
speed and lots of rain.
The one good thing about the interruption is that we get to
have some downtime with the guys around us. Team 812 in the 1991 Suzuki
Swift Gti is in front of us. After watching them go around the previous
course, we are intrigued by this little rough idling bugger. The
driver, Richard Martin, says, "It's barely got an engine. But she's
light." It turns out that Richard and his co-driver Larry are both into
ice racing in northern Ontario (Thunder Bay). If you look at Thunder
Bay on a map, you'll wonder if there is anything else to do in Thunder
Bay besides ice racing! Later on, JD will inform me that he has done
lots of camping around Thunder Bay and Timmons. I'll also learn from
him that Timmons is where Shania Twain is from... This fact is
immediately filed away in my Bin of Worthless Information. Of all the
people that we met this year, Richard is probably the nicest. This is a
good thing since we'll be spending a lot of time with Richard and Larry
over the next 5 days.
We also get a chance to catch up with JD and Bob. We ask Bob
what he thinks of the rally... He says that he feels sick. Not good. In
addition to JD, we shoot the breeze with Ken Bavis and Trevor Simmons.
Ken and Trevor were integral to us getting the Rustang together last
year. They lined up helmets and a local guy (Shady Dave) to weld our
roll cage together.
After about 15 more minutes of waiting around, we finally run
the stage. Karl seems more comfortable in the car and I'm finally
getting back in the groove of following the route book. Since this is a
longer stage, I'm able to test out our ghetto rally computer: I mounted
the stock BMW trip computer in the spot where the radio used to be. I
set the DISTANCE function to count down the kilometers. One problem: it
doesn't do fractional distances (ie 2.5km). I have to guesstimate our
position. For the most part it works. We should have purchased a rally
computer. Karl could drive twice as hard if I could tell him what's
over the next crest or around the next turn...
On our way back from Flatrock, we miss a turn on the transit.
Luckily, Oldford and Harris in the Integra also miss the turn. Since
they are local boys, they know a back way to the next stop. We follow
them to the Legion Manor. The Legion Manor appears to be a senior
citizens' home. We are welcomed in for sandwiches, coffee, tea and
small cakes. The social room is a large living room with lots of comfy
couches and a TV. The food is set out on some fold-out tables that
stretch the length of the room.
On the wall, there is a faded photo of Queen Elizabeth. It reminds me
of something Bob Giannou said this morning at the crew meeting: "If
Queen Elizabeth herself was visiting Newfoundland, she would get no
less or more of a reception than you will." Newfoundlanders are
notorious for their hospitality, but for some reason I think the Queen
would command a much grander reception than a bunch of grungy racers.
While making myself a cup of coffee, I am also reminded that
Newfoundland is an island. As with most islands, it has limited
resources: the coffee is instant and the milk is canned.
Due to the delays on both the stage, it's almost 1700 by the time we
return to Mile One. We park our car next to none other than Roy Hopkins
and Adrienne Hughs. Roy and Adrienne are the fastest team with a stock
car at Targa. I emailed Roy a couple months back for some tips on
building our E36 - he was totally cool. So I again introduced myself
and paid thanks to him.
Since we were installing the belts into our car until almost midnight
last night, this is our first chance to walk around and meet some of
the other people. But since I'm in a grateful mood, we have some more
'thank-yous' to hand out. First stop: Bill Arnold. Bill talked with
Karl for almost a half-hour while we were having our problems with the
S50 swap. Bill drives a 1972 Bavaria with a Euro 3.2L engine swap.
After our conversation (and especially after seeing him drive), I am struck with appreciation for someone who speaks with same precision in which they pilot an hi-performance automobile!
Next up, we drop by Scott and Peter's car. Their 1985 BMW
323is is probably one of the most prepped out BMWs at the event. Bill
Arnold built this car specifically for this race for them. I ask Peter
if he has a minute to walk us through the car. Karl has fun pointing
out their not-so-tech windshield washer bottle. He says that the car is
too low, to which I reply, "Really? We knew that would be a problem so
we are running stock suspension." Peter's response, "You are kidding,
We get a lift back to the Hotel St. John's with Jon and Bob. We shower
and head back out to the Targa "Kick-Off" Reception at the E.B. Foran
Room in City Hall.
The E.B. Foran Hall seems a bit smaller than it did in the morning.
There is a pretty fair sized crowd enjoying the free beer and food.
I've been saying that I wanted to eat more fruits and vegetables on
this trip - this is the only night that I will actually abide by this.
There are platters of raw vegetables (cauliflower and broccoli), pita
bread and mustard on a couple tables. I make a few mustard broccoli
sandwiches. Eventually, Bob Giannou makes a speech and introduces the
mayor of St. John's.
I haven't read any of the local papers, but I did see something on the
news about the mayor's opposition in the upcoming election. It seems
that the candidate did something crazy on a local talk show and now
everyone is up in arms over it. The mayor spent some time talking about
that and he basically gave it up for Targa. Another local government
official spoke. She echoed the mayor's sentiments.
After the local politicians are done talking, Jon pulls JD to
the side. JD walks up to Bob and asks him to make an announcement about
the DVD that Jon put together with JD's backing last year.
I've watched Bob Giannou work the crowd for two years now -- he is a
very capable speaker. He approaches the podium and mumbles out an
announcement that the 11thhourracing DVD will be screening at Normies
on George Street at 2100 hours. I don't think that anyone even knows
what he is talking about.
I feel sorry for JD.
Since I've spent the last 4 days with Karl and Bob (I have nothing to
say to the Stew Bum), I look around the room for someone to talk to.
Reg Reimer. Perfect.
Reg is a legend in the Toyota Supra community. He pioneered the later
model Supra MK3 7MGTE engine swap into the older MK2 Celica Supra
chassis among many other fantastic things. He is at Targa to provide
support for Kimber and O'Kane in their 1994 Supra Turbo (in our class
incidentally). I chat with Reg for about an hour and a half about a
bunch of different topics: BMWs, the E36, Supras, Mercedes Smart cars,
engine management, industrial mining equipment, etc. A truly
After Reg leaves, I get back together with Karl, JD and Bob. Jon is off
at his 'screening', so we walk down to George Street for another night
of fun. However, George street is pretty beat on Sundays, so we head
over to our favorite watering hole: Sirens. Sirens has 5 beers for 10
bucks on Sunday nights and there just happens to be all-nude dancers on
the stage! Tonight the talent is not so good, so we drink our bucket of
beer and move on to The Cotton Club.
The Cotton Club is a really cool space: the walls are square cut field
stones with lots of space between them and a wooden high-peaked roof.
It feels like an ancient barn. There are also all-nude dancers here
too. The drinks are not as cheap. By 0300 we are back at the Hotel St.
John's. Tomorrow is a long day.
DAY FIVE - 9/12/05We give Jon and Bob a wake-up call at 0700
and we are out of the hotel by 745. I check us out since we are not
going to be staying here tonight - Targa will take us to Gander this
evening. We go to Oscar's for breakfast again; the service is not so
good this time. We order juice and coffee all around but the waitress
brings us neither until our food is ready.
I have the Stagehand Special without bacon again. Bob has the
blueberry pancakes, bacon and taters. I think he also has some OJ. He
does not chew his food. He simply swallows it whole like a python
devouring a small rodent. After we finish eating, the waitress brings
us our checks separately - something each of the places we eat at has
no problem doing.
We walk over to Mile One and say goodbye to Jon ("I have some things to
do." Translation: "I'm going back to bed."). JD is not in the stadium
yet, we think that last night was a bit much for him; he shows up 20
minutes later. Our out-time is around 0950 again.
Before we arrive at the first time control, we stop at the Star of the
Sea Shamrock Room for 10 minutes. JD and I relieve ourselves behind the
dumpster in the back of the parc expose (basically a short break at a
local landmark). I wonder what the locals think of all these noisy cars
with drivers that piss all over the place. We are a mob of pissers in
fancy loud cars.
We can see the first stage from the Star of the Sea, so we
take our time and head over. The roads are starting to dry up a bit but
it still looks like there could be some heavy weather. At least our
tires will have a chance to get broken in today.
The first stage of the day is a 12.46KM run. We run through it
without a problem, we actually catch up with Si Ford in his 1967 Comet
and pass him. We didn't have an opportunity to do this last year due to
our various mechanical problems. It's nice having the ghetto trip/rally
computer for this stage.
We proceed to the next time control and stage up. In a few minutes, JD pulls up along side us:
"HE THREW UP IN THE MIDDLE OF THE STAGE! All over himself! All over the
helmet! All over the dashboard! I'm driving my ass off and all of the
sudden Bob stops reading the instructions from the route book.
Then he does it.
Puke all over the place.
Puke in his helmet.
I roll the window down and run the stage with my head out the window, gagging. This f'ing guy doesn't chew his food. There's bacon and pancakes all over the place."
At least JD is smiling and laughing about it - he looks like he is
having the time of his life. Bob, on the other hand, looks half-dead
and as pale as a ghost. The entire front of his fire suit is covered
We run the next stage without incident. It's one I remember from last
year. Lots of high speed straights with a couple hard turns. The tires
are working great.
When we meet up with JD at the next stage, Marysvale, Bob has
puked again. He looks even worse. I look through the route book before
we get our start time: there is one double caution: a compression
followed by a jump/crest. When we approach this spot, there are some
stewards/safety marshals on the track clearing some debris, so I shout
at Karl to slow down. Luckily, we crawl over the compression/jump;
several other competitors aren't so lucky: Team 715 in the 88 Monte
Carlo catch air and bend the rear chassis of their car, Team 408 in the
69 911 jump, spin out, crash, tear the car in half and end their Targa
race and our own JD Turner blows out his front alignment on it (later
he dubiously blames it on Bob's puking/not reading the instruction).
Judging by the scene in Gander later on, I'm certain many other
competitors developed serious problems due to the jump/compression.
We run another stage, Brigus, our first real in-town stage.
The highlight of this stage is a small wooden bridge with a compression
at the end. Since brakes don't work that great in the air, we almost
blow the turn and take out Grandma Jeanne's nice white picket fence.
Next up is our lunch break... JD relays the puking story
numerous times. It goes over very well with all the other competitors.
During lunch, Bob cleans out the 911 and sponges off his clothes. He
eats a very light lunch and takes some Gravol (an OTC drug that
prevents motion-sickness, nausea and vomiting). Lunch consists of
Subway salads and soup. It starts raining again towards the end of
lunch, Karl and I retreat to the Hummer for some quiet time.
Directly in front of the Hummer, there are a couple tents set up. One
has a blue Subaru WRX sedan parked under it; the car has bad body
damage on the passenger side. There is a flurry of activity going on
around it. I recognize the crew - they are the Kloosterman guys that I
ate breakfast with at Placentia two days ago. I get out and ask them
how it's going. "Good. Just doing some maintenance on the suspension."
The car has a large dent down the passenger side - that wasn't there
when we were in Nova Scotia! It turns out that they blew a turn during
prologue yesterday. They were able to pull it back on the road and
finish the stage, but the navigator broke his arm and the car sustained
Ken and Trevor (#850 92 Honda Civic) are busy troubleshooting
some problem with their car. It seems that the exhaust manifold has
developed several cracks. Since the car is turbocharged, this causes it
to run like a dog. They have an arc welder with them but their
generator is not strong enough to power it. Team Subaru offers them use
of their larger generator. Team Subaru is the unofficial support crew
of all the Targa competitors...
We get back in the Bimmer and head to the next stage,
Spaniards Bay. A long straight stage with some winding curves. The next
stage, Chapel Arm West is cancelled so we transit on to Osprey Trail.
We have lots of time before our in-time, so we walk around a bit and
hang out with some of the other teams. There is a small
convenience-type store (LuLu Mae's Confections and Flowers) near where
This is the first time that I see Bruce Smith, the co-driver of Team
719, get out of his E30 M3. Bruce is around 6' 1" tall and probably
weighs 280lbs. In order to get out of the car, he must first lean his
entire torso into the driver's seat area. Next, he lifts his legs out
of the car. Finally, he gains some leverage on the A and B-pillars of
the car and pulls himself out of the car with both arms. This process
takes approximately 3 ½ minutes. Bruce does not get in or out of the
car very much.
We finally run Osprey Trail. There is a speed restriction zone
for the first 1/3 of the course; we poke along at the posted 80km but
half way through a silver 911 comes blasting passed us.
It's JD. I'm a bit confused but I tell Karl to hang back. We eventually see some marshals shooting radar.
I think JD doesn't know that we are in an SRZ.
We finally pass another SRZ sign and JD slows down. I'm really
confused now. I thought that we would see an END SRZ sign so we pace JD
at 100km. Once the boys from Thunder Bay catch up with us, I realize
that the SRZ is over. We bring it back up to speed, but we miss the
Targa time by 2+ minute but. we still make the trophy time.
We catch up with JD at a gas station outside of Clarenville on
the long transit to Gander. I ask him what the hell happened back at
Osprey Trail: "I didn't see the start of the SRZ. I was going full
speed - 100 to 110mph - through it. I'm in deep sh!t."
The final stage of the day is Gander South. This was one of
our favourite stages from last year. This TC is basically a very hard
drive through a classic suburban sub-division. When we finally get to
Gander, there is a short delay. The usual social scene greets us; Dan
(co-driver #510 1972 Volvo P1800ES) Coomber's wife is handing out some
GORP. I gratefully take a handful... nuts and trial mix! Yummy.
Since there is a bit of a delay, Bob and I need to make our way up to
the desk to get the proper in time. Robin Stoyles (driver #1054 84 VW
Jetta) is having some problems with his car. It's cranking but it won't
start. Since Bob is a VW nut, we go over and see if we can help. Last
year, Robin was hanging around the event in his flat black Jetta - Karl
and I really liked the look of the car. It was part of the inspiration
for our low-gloss paint job on the BMW.
Robin tells us that his alternator wore out and there are none
on the island. He is using a jump box to power the car - it has enough
juice for the ignition system, but not enough to start the car. Bob and
I roll the car back about 50 meters and start pushing. Robin lets the
clutch out and the car starts up.
Karl and I blow through the Gander stage without missing a single turn.
I have a simple method for navigating in-town stages: Don't use the
instructions. Just cross off the turns as you make them on the map that
is included in the beginning of the route book TC section. I call it
the GT4 Method.
As we pull into the stadium, the engine is making a low
ticking sound. Oh sh!t. We open the hood and it sounds like it is
coming from the top end: Exhaust leak? No. VANOS? No.
We ask Alex Brosseau what he thinks it might be. "All S50 engines do
that after you beat on them. Fill the engine with oil to the FULL
point, then add another quart of oil." Later, Dave McIntyre
corroborates this. I seem to remember reading this tip online, too.
At the end of each day, there's a crew of kids at the stadium
that wash your car. You must drive your car up to the wash area. I make
Karl get the car washed. This means that he must sit in the car for an
additional 20 minutes; I walk around and survey the damage from Targa
2005: Day One.
Already crews are starting to work on cars:
Pacione/Mach3 has cordoned off an entire quarter of the Gander
Community Center parking lot. With four or five RVs and trailers parked
in a square, It resembles a medieval fortress.
Ken and Trevor have a small tent and a large crew. They are repairing/replacing their broken exhaust manifold.
A silver WRX wagon (#922 Rotelle and Holowsko) had an off
today. It is sitting on the tow truck with a pretty bad wack to the
nose. Later, we'll see the crew desperately trying to fix the damage.
They will fail.
Scott Giannou's black 911 is undergoing some sort of repair.
We later find out that the alternator failed. Several other 911s are
undergoing major and minor repair.
Hopkins and Hughs are getting ready to swap the engine in their E30 M3 due to some bent valves.
It feels as if I've stumbled upon a village of lunatics who
enjoy working on their cars as quickly as possible in dark, cold, wet,
Later on, Robin Stoyles tells us about his alternator repair:
"I was working on my car next to Roy Hopkins. Roy
drove back to St. John's to get a spare engine (for his M3) out of his
trailer. Watching him work was amazing.
At one point, he asked me, 'What's wrong with your car?'
'The alternator isn't working. The brushes are worn out.'
'I have what you need.' With that, Roy went over to his box of spare
parts and pulled out a wadded-up, greasy rubber glove. He unfolded it
to reveal a shiny alternator brush.
'The brushes in Bosch alternators are all the same. This one
will work for you. Disassemble the alternator case and install this
Amazing, huh? The alternator is working fine now."
Just before we ran Gander south, JD inspected his front tires.
They were nearly bald. The compression jump must have blown out
something in the front end of his car. We meet up with Newfoundlander
Jason Cahill for the first time in Gander. He makes some phone calls
and gets JD an appointment at the Goodyear garage.
Since Bob has had an especially rough day (and Jon has not
checked in at the Gander Hotel yet), Karl, Bob and I go back to the
Albatross hotel to get cleaned up. After we are cleaned up, we walk
over to the Gander Hotel to see if we can find Jon.
We see the H2 parked out front and as we walk into the lobby, we see Jon at the desk:
"Sir, we require your credit card to check-in."
"I, um, lost my wallet today - it had all my cards in it. It's been a really tough day today."
"Well... OK. But I will require your card before you check-out. Fill out this form so we know which vehicle is yours."
"Hmmph. It's the only HUMMER in the parking lot. Let me go out and get the license plate number anyway..."
With that, we pop out of our hiding place in the lobby. Later,
we have a good laugh about "Jon's" Hummer and we wonder what kind of
scam he is running with the 'lost wallet' routine.
The Goodyear City Tire has two new tires to replace JD's bald
ones and the mechanic says that he'll look at the camber problem. Also
in the shop is Scott Smith. He scrunched his header pipe on one of the
stages with his too-low E30 BMW; the mechanic is replacing the pipe
when we walk in. We take a look at the underside of his car. I like the
fancy (BMW OEM) skidplate and the chains on the rear control arms to
keep the much-lower-than-stock-springs from falling out.
Scott has also bought along a square 2" thick piece of
polyurethane; he wants the mechanic to insert it into the spring
perches. This will raise the car a bit and, hopefully, prevent any
further damage to the undercarriage of the car. We shoot the breeze
with Scott a bit.
Pretty soon it is almost 2300, we leave JD at the garage. We haven't
eaten since the GORP at Gander south -- I wanted to go to Ches's for
their legendary fish and chips but it has closed. Bob, Karl and I find
a small pizza shop on the way back to the hotel... When most people
grow tired, they become extremely lethargic. Not Karl. He becomes
hyperactive and extremely short attention span. He tried to order the
pizza and I swear the guy behind the counter thought we were a bunch of
meth addicts that were going to rob the place. In rapid fire, he asked
these questions: "Who wants what? A pizza with onions? With pepperoni?
With pepperoni and onions!? No wait. Who likes what? Which size? Is
cheese ok?" Bob and I are ready to fall asleep, so we just looked at
each other. I finally said, "We'll take a large cheese pizza."
We finish the pizza and there was about a ¼ of it left over.
Later I give the pie to Bob and tell him to "make sure Ackerson eats -
it is part of the reason that he's so demented. Too much alcohol/not
enough food!" We drop Bob off at the Gander Hotel with the pizza and
head home for the night.
DAY SIX - 9/13/05We meet up with JD at the stadium in the
morning. Karl went bonkers for the breakfast at the Gander stadium last
year so he was really looking forward to it this year. He had French
toast and I had the eggs and hash browns (hold the bacon/ham/etc).
While we are waiting for our breakfast to be prepped,
world-famous journalist Jim Kenzie joins the line. He has entered his
factory-backed BMW Mini Cooper in the unlimited class just to show the
world how bad-ass a lightly prepped/well-driven car can be. His
competition: Pacione's completely custom 2004 Mustang and the
Daimler-Chrysler factory-built racecar 300C and Charger. It's a classic
battle: 225hp FWD econobox vs. 600hp RWD muscle cars. Kenzie is
currently at the head of the pack.
Over breakfast, JD tells us that Jon called him up at 0300 and
invited himself over. It turns out that there was only one bed in the
room he booked and he did not want to share it with Bob (or vice versa
I imagine). He knew JD had a fold out couch in his room so he slept on
Somewhere around 0430, Jon starts yelling: "You cocksucking
motherf*cker! I'm going to kill you! F*ck sh*t die!" JD jumps out of
bed -- scared for his life! It turns out that Jon is suffering through
his nightly DTs. Eventually, one of Jon's many personalities wins and
JD and Jon return to sleep.
We have about an hour before our out-time, so we do the usual: mill about, walk around, take a sh!t, etc.
I loved the Gander stage from last year, so I've decided that I will
drive this stage. This is my first time driving a Targa stage. I give
Karl a quick breakdown of how to navigate and we head out.
As we make our way out of the stadium, we see Jon and his film crew
(Jason Cahill and Mike Whatshisface) walking through the woods near the
course. I think of Goldilocks and the Three Bears for some reason...
The stage start is just outside of the stadium. Three, Two, One, GO! I
jump the gun a little bit but there is no time to worry about that. I
drive very conservatively through the stage, but we still make our
After the stage is complete, I trade places with Karl for the long
transit to Norris Arm. This is a high-speed stage with a couple tight
turns thrown in. The coolest thing about it is that we travel along the
water for nearly the entire stage.
Just before the Botwood stage - another in-town stage, we have a short
parc expose. Ken and Trevor tell us that they had fellow competitor
Matt Koestner re-tune their car with Crome software (ECU programming
for Hondas). "It is running 30% stronger than it ever did. It feels
like a different car." Matt is in the same class as Ken and Trevor
(Class 8 Modified) - he could have easily told them that he would do it
after the race, but he didn't. Several times, while Ken and Trevor were
troubleshooting their car, I saw Matt and his crew/girlfriend helping
Today, we are positioned behind the raced-out Styrofoam White1966
Porsche 911 driven by Mark Scott and Chris Paine. We passed them on the
Norris Arm stage and we will probably pass them again. Yesterday, the
Porsche had several problems and today we see Chris checking various
components on the car numerous times.
The final stage before lunch is Leading Tickles. This stage
starts-off as an in-town stage then becomes a monster high-speed
course: several long straightaways where many competitors will be able
to hit 200km. The best is a long straight that leads to an uphill left
around a rocky cliff. In order to let cooler heads prevail, there is a
3KM Speed Restriction Zone in this stage. It's nice because it gives us
an opportunity to refocus on the high speed course coming up. After the
SRZ, we manage to pass the '66 Porsche and the '94 Mustang GT. Both of
these cars appear to be having problems. Later we find out that the
Mustang had an off earlier in the day and it was causing the fuel
system to randomly shut-off.
The scariest turn on Leading Tickles is an uphill crest
followed by a fairly sharp right turn. This would not be that
challenging, but the road narrows about 20% on the inside and as I've
noted before, Karl loves to cut turns. As we summit the crest, I feel
the slightest shift in the back-end when our right side wheels are in
the gravel. This is very scary stuff at 80mph.
By the end of the course, we arrive in the town of Leading
Tickles. We pass a few more classic cars -- most notably, the vintage
Jag pretty close to the finish line.
It appears that a lot of other drivers are doing a similar thing. This
makes it very difficult for the referees to get an accurate time.
Rather quickly, a small traffic jam forms around the time station.
Finally, one of the officials says that everyone will get their times
and we should continue on to lunch.
Of all the places that we take lunch, Leading Tickles is, by
far, the most beautiful. It is a small park with picnic benches, food
service and washrooms. To the north, there is a huge pine tree covered
mountain; to the west and east there are black stony beaches. The
westerly one is easily accessible from the park. It looks out on
several small rocky islands and beyond that the ocean. Visitors to this
spot can climb a wooden staircase up the northern mountain for a truly
Karl and I grab lunch. I opt for the moose stew and Karl gets the fish
and chips. Pretty shortly, JD arrives with another wild tale:
"I was at the starting line and when I let off the
clutch to go, the car didn't move. The axle popped out... all the bolts
backed out and the axle wasn't seated anymore.
That's two strikes for JD: Speeding in an SRZ and passing
a cop! To add insult to injury since he missed a stage, he is no longer
eligible for his big trophy plate. Amazingly, JD has made his trophy
times for the last two years. If he made them for all three, he would
have received a GOLD trophy plate.
So I tightend down the bolts with a vice-grip and we were able
to get going. By that time, CAR 99 (Car 99 announces the all-clear/race
over signal to the residents) had just passed me. They already had my
card, so I figured I would run the stage. After I passed CAR 99, the
next car was the RCMP cop with his lights on. As I got behind him, he
pulled over so I figured I would pass him too.
When I got to the end of the stage, the RCMP pulled me aside and read me the riot act. He said I might be 'done for the day'.
I asked him, 'Why did you let me pass, if it wasn't OK?'
He said, 'Because you were coming up so fast, I thought you were going to rear-end me.'"
Bob and I hike up the mountain and take in the scenery. For
360 degrees, it is a fantastic view. You can look down at the parking
lot and see the racing rabble. I can clearly see Jon next to JD's car
and someone (Jason) underneath it. After 15 minutes on the mountaintop,
we descend back to the park. JD's car is back on the ground and Jon and
Jason are gone.
Leading Tickles has added a few more cars to the injured roster:
The Smith/Guagenti E30 monster blew an axle. They are out for the day.
The Kloosterman Subaru is undergoing some sort of transmission
or differential service - one of the crew are dumping gear oil through
a filter and scavenging out some metal bits. Bill Arnold informs me
that the transmission lost 2,3,4 gears. The entire parking lot smells
like gear oil.
We suit up and head back out to do Leading Tickles back the
way we came. It's funny how you have absolutely no recollection of the
course even though you ran it in reverse an hour and half prior... We
make our way to Port Leamington (the end of the stage) and pass by the
spot where we put the Mustang in a ditch last year. Karl actually
slides the tail end of the car on the same turn. I don't know if this
is his way of giving the turn a big F- YOU or if he likes repeating his
Alex Brosseau is comes up fast on us in the town, we let him
pass on a short straightaway. He is an incredibly fast driver - it's
fun to watch someone driving 10/10 directly in front of us. He pulls
away from us and we, somewhat, maintain the pace with him to the finish
The next stage is Grand Falls-Windsor. Another in-town stage
and we are again behind the raced-out Styrofoam '66 911. This should be
About halfway through Grand Falls, we catch up with Chris and Mark in
the Styrofoam 911. Since it is an in-town stage, we have some pretty
dramatic/intense moments. At one point we are battling it out so
intensely that it feels like a video game! Small narrow streets with
lots of hard turns... The Porsche likes to make WIDE turns. Karl LOVES
to cut his turns (maybe he thinks he's still driving a VW Rabbit?). At
one point, the Porsche swings wide for a right turn and Karl cuts in
for the pass. I could clearly see Chris Paine's face directly in front
of us while we were going ~50KM in a hard turn. Awesome! After a couple
more close calls, we dial it back and just follow Mark's lead. By the
time we do this, there are less than 100 meters left in the stage.
We run Bishop's Falls without incident (unlike the Jarvis'
2002 which ends up in a ditch) and proceed to Norris Arm East. After
Norris Arm, there is a parc expose at the end of the course near a
hairpin turn. We finally have the opportunity to watch several of the
Tom Paynter in the WRC Subaru WRX STi are the most impressive: 100mph
into a hairpin, slam on brakes, hit emergency brake, spin around turn
continue on. We also get to watch JD do the turn. He is no Tom Paynter.
Since we hung out at the parc expose so long, it looks like we might be
a little bit late getting back into the stadium in Gander. We do 150km
for a bit on the TCH and barely make our in time. JD parks his car next
to ours in the stadium and we do a quick inspection. It seems the
driver's rear wheel is making clunk when the car is rocked. The E36 is
notorious for bad wheel bearings, so we jack it up and release the
parking brake. It no longer clunks. Problem solved. Day 3 of racing and
the car is holding up great!
We are ready to leave the stadium by 1930. Targa is throwing a
dinner bash at the Hotel Gander, so we are going to head back to our
hotel's to get cleaned up. After we discuss our plans, a guy walks up
to me and asks if he can get a lift back to the Hotel Gander. "Sure. As
long as you don't mind squeezing in with 5 other people."
"My name is Darryl Deagle."
Darryl came to Targa with the MG team as crew. Unfortunately,
they crashed on the first day and were now both in a hospital back
in St. John's. To fill his time, he was volunteering with the time
While we are dropping Bob, Jon and Darryl off at the Hotel
Gander, we see Bill Arnold. I made a remark about Smith/Guagenti's axle
shaft: "How does one locate an axle shaft for an E30 in Newfoundland?"
His response, "Networking! I call two friends and they each call two
friends and it appears on your doorstep." Bill rocks our world again!
We shower and head back to the Hotel Gander. We see Darryl in the lobby
and we head into the dinner. In addition to food, we get 2 BOGO Molson
tickets each. I immediately buy two Black Horse beers. I give one to
Jason the Parking Guy. Jason is responsible for making sure that the
cars are parked properly during lunch and at the end of the day. He
does an awesome job. Our motley crew heads to one of the tables in the
Darryl tells how much he hates being a volunteer with Targa. His chief
complaint is that his co-workers are a bunch of weirdos. I tell him
that he is more than welcome to join our crew for the rest of the
event. As the dinner progresses, everyone warms up to Darryl --
especially JD. I think he might have found his long lost son.
While we are sitting at the table, we see Bill Arnold at the
food table. Why is he smiling at the food? He takes a seat at the table
with a blonde trophy bride. Wait-a-minute, that's not Bill Arnold,
that's that guy (Peter Klutt) from Sports Car Revolution and Dream Car
Garage! He is a dead ringer for Bill Arnold. Strange.
We are joined by Team Wonder Bread from the touring class.
They seem like nice guys. I ask them how they got Wonder Bread to
sponsor them. "We just asked." It turns out that they are pretty good
at TSD (Time Speed Distance) events - they will win the modern division
in Touring this year.
Also joining us is Robin Stoyles and his father. He tells us
the Jetta/Hopkins alternator brush story and his multiple other
mechanical woes - it turns out that his clutch is broken... But it is
in the shop getting put together as we speak.
Bob Giannou takes the stage to announce that the Talent (or lack
thereof) Show is cancelled since most of the talent is down at the
stadium working on their semi-destroyed cars. He also informs us that
one of the communities that we will be passing through tomorrow had a
boating accident: two of the four men on the fishing boat drowned. The
event chaplain, the Faster Pastor, will be holding a small
vigil/service during one our parc expose/car show there tomorrow.
After a couple more beers, the day starts to catch up with me.
We head out to a nearby bar, but it's empty. Since I have a key to the
room in my pocket, I quietly break off from the group and head back to
our hotel. Karl does the same 10 minutes after me.
DAY SEVEN - 9/14/05We walk over to JD's hotel and eat their
complimentary continental breakfast. Jon has slept on JD's pullout
couch again, so he is milling about too. Luckily, Jon exhibited no
multiple personality conflicts last night. We go to the stadium, get
our out times and leave.
We only run two stages in the morning: Musgrave Harbor and New
Wes Valley. The latter is notable because that is the stage we missed
because the Mustang ran out of gas last year.
New Wes Valley is a cool stage. It's kind of an in-town stage
with quite a few long straights. The road has also been recently paved
so getting up to speed is a little less harrowing. The Dodge Neon
piloted by Mark Cotnam's co-pilot from last year ends up on its roof
after a crest.
We are reintroduced to dried roast beef at lunch today. I've
found that it goes down a lot easier if it is coated with ranch salad
dressing. I kind of like it this way, actually. At lunch, we are seated
next to the Volvo P1800 guys and their wives. Not surprisingly, Dan
Coomber's wife takes immediate offence to something JD says about
marriage. We enjoy their playful back-and-forth banter throughout
lunch. JD has fun telling everyone his 'passing the cop' story. We are
having so much fun, I forget to keep track of our out time. We leave a
few minutes after our scheduled out time, but the next stage is
cancelled so there is no worry.
We transit to Greenspond. This is another notable location for
us: we ran out of gas here last year. Due to the cancellation of the
previous stage, we have 45 minutes before our in-time. We take
advantage of the break to do some hiking. Karl and I scale a small rock
cliff and walk down towards the cove. The terrain turns very marshy so
we stick to the high spots. The ground here is covered with thick,
soft, moss-like vegetation; we enjoy the early afternoon sunlight and
cushy ground by taking a 20-minute nap.
We hear the commotion of the race begin to fill the air so we make our
way back to the car. Greenspond is a very short and tight in-town stage
with lots of elevation changes and blind corners. Very challenging but
very fun. The best part of the stage is a blind left turn that leads up
a very steep hill.
The next stage is Eastport. This is the community that the fisherman
who perished were from. Before the course, we are welcomed into the
local Royal Canadian Legion and the Faster Pastor says his piece.
Eastport is a fairly straightforward stage but it does have one very
acute turn with a small drop off on the inside of the turn. I tell Karl
not to cut the turn, but he cuts it anyway.
The final stage of the day is Clarenville. This is another
in-town stage that features lots of elevation changes and a few fast
straights. We blow through the stage and proceed to the Clarenville
JD's main reason for bringing Jon this year was to have Jon
sell DVDs of the production that JD financed last year. We are in our
4th day of racing and Jon has made absolutely no effort to sell
anything. The night before, I told JD I'd help him sell a few as long
as he did not give any money to Jon.
Jon came to Targa 2005 under the pretense of shooting another movie and
selling some copies of last year's. He bought one video camera and no
crew. He did not bring a laptop or a DVD player to show last year's
Darryl came to Targa to be a crew member for the MG team. He
brought a laptop, a digital camera and a video camera. He also bought
cash and valid credit cards. He is more prepared to shoot a movie than
I ask Darryl how his first day as part of our crew was. He tells us a funny story:
"Jon and I stopped at a gas station because the
Hummer's fuel light was on. Jon went into the gas station and tried to
pay with his credit card. It was, probably, declined. He came back with
the 'there was a problem with my card' excuse and asked me if I would
get the gas this time. I had to put $100 in the Hummer.
But other than that it was good. Jon did a lot of complaining... He does not like you or Karl."
We secure an extension chord from the stadium staff and plug in
both of the laptops. We put a laptop on each of the cars. The stadium
shares a parking lot with a COOP supermarket; I run in and buy a large
yellow (yellow is the color of performance, afterall) poster board and
a Sharpee magic marker. JD makes a sign that reads:
TARGA 2004 DVD
ONLY We get the DVD playing and
we head to a local fish and chips joint. Jon and Darryl are left to
sell DVDs. When we leave, Jon is nowhere to be found. I get the
distinct impression that he wants absolutely nothing to do with selling
the DVD. I tell Darryl to keep whatever he sells.
After a couple wrong turns, we find the fish and chips place. It
occupies the other half of a sports bar. Bob and I get the Fish and
Chips platter. Karl and JD get the Seafood platter. 15 minutes later, 4
gigantic plates of fried food are brought out to us. "The regular
customers get the kid's portion...." the waitress tells us a little bit
We shoot the sh!t and eat for about an hour then head back to the
stadium. To our surprise, Jon is actually trying to sell the DVD. I
thought he would be out sleeping under a tree or at the bar down the
street. Darryl says that they have sold 2 DVDs.
JD, Karl, Bob and I take over the sales of the DVD while Jon, Darryl
and Jason go out for dinner. We get to shoot the breeze with some
locals and some of the other competitors. Within an hour, we manage to
sell 6 DVDs.
By 2100, the stadium is winding down. Darryl, Jon and Jason have
returned from dinner. Somehow, they have managed to pick up another
screwball, Mike James. Since I only made hotel reservations for St.
John's and Gander, we asked if we could crash with JD for Clarenville
and Marystown - two of the more isolated spots on the trip. But drunk
Jon has the same intention and that is not good at all. We head over to
the Hotel Clarenville to see if they have any vacancies.
"Nope. But let me call one of the B&Bs for you."
I speak to the woman who owns the B&B and say that I'd
like a room for the evening. After she gives me directions and the rate
information, Jon comes stumbling in.
"Looks like I need to talk to her, too."
This has gone from bad to worse. I picture Jon, Jason and Mike piling
into the bed and breakfast at 0200, good and sh!tfaced. Which is
hysterical if you aren't a guest or a 'friend' of the sh!tfaced
individual. While Jon is inside making his arrangements, Karl and I
boogie out to the Hummer. JD says that we can stay at his hotel, so we
get ready to leave.
As we are leaving, we see the crew out in the parking lot. JD says that
the drivers (Bob, Karl and I) are staying in his hotel room and that
the crew will need to fend for itself. I feel bad about leaving Darryl
with Jon, but he knew what he was in for... Besides, they'll probably
have a good time tonight - if you think getting piss drunk and possibly
getting into a fight are a good time!
The Targa event has grown quite a bit in the last year, as such the
organizers have had to secure more lodging. Unfortunately, there is not
a lot of lodging in Newfoundland. We are staying at the Terra Nova Golf
Resort. It is approximately 30 minutes outside of Clarenville.
During the drive, Bob starts looking for his Day 4 (tomorrow) route
book. He can't find it. Karl says that Jon was looking for a Day 4
route book at the beginning of the day. We can only imagine where it
The route book is an important component of the race. Without it, you
are lost in the transits and more importantly the stages. You can get
another one, but you are assessed a penalty.
drive for what seems like an hour but we eventually make it to the
Hotel. Before we head into the hotel, we search through the Hummer for
the Day 4 route book... no luck. Karl and I wait outside while JD
checks in. We wait 5 minutes than head up to the room - the Golf Resort
is a pretty nice hotel... much better than the Hotel Clarenville.
After we get situated, we head to the bar for '1' beer. The always
entertaining Alex Brousseu is at the bar nursing a beer. We shoot the
breeze about racing, etc for a while. After I finish my second beer, I
head back up to the hotel room to call Laura.
I figure everyone would be up before my half-hour phone call was through. Wrong.
I head back down to the bar and the guys have secured a table.
There are 3 or 4 empties in front of each of them. JD is making passes
at the middle-aged insurance saleswomen at the table across from us. I
have another 2 beers and everyone is ready to turn in. It is a little
after 0100 and we need to be up by 0530. Karl and Bob sleep on the
floor while JD and I sleep in separate beds.
DAY EIGHT - 9/15/05Before we leave the Golf Resort, we go
through the Hummer one more time for the Day 4 route book. No good. As
we get off the TCH to pull into Clarenville, JD takes the exit a little
bit too fast. The Day 4 route book slides across the Hummer's super
We have a very long transit before the first stage. We stop at
a gas station, refuel the car and get a couple of coffees. It's nice to
be on the road this early - there are barely any other cars on the road
except Targa cars. As we approach the staging area, we miss the last
gas station with true hi-octane gas so we stop at the next low octane
one. The parking lot is filled with Targa cars. While we are getting
gas + octane booster, we watch a dozen or so other Targa cars drive by.
Since the transit was so early and long, we will have
breakfast at the small village of Harbour Mille. On our way into the
village, I realize that we are driving on the first stage of the day.
In an hour's time, we will be racing on this road. It consists of long
windy roads with the bay on the left and a rocky cliff on the right.
When we get to the town, we line the streets of this tiny fishing
village with our cars and have breakfast in a small community center.
In the two years of Targa, this has been the best start of a day yet.
After breakfast, I walk around and chat with a few of the other
competitors. The father and son Esseltines are campaigning an
SR20DET-powered Datsun 510 that I have been dying to check out. I shoot
the breeze with them for a few minutes. Their car has been placed in
the Unlimited class.
I tell them that they should have argued that it belonged in modified.
The car uses the same philosophy that Bill Arnold applied to his car:
take an old chassis and stuff it with stock high-performance late-model
parts from the same manufacturer. The 510 has a fairly stock Nissan
SR20DET engine, Nissan 240sx transmission, Nissan 280zx rear-end,
Nissan 300zx (Z32) brakes and hubs. These are all items that can be
found in any import junkyard...
Bob and I take a short hike around the village of Harbour
Mille. The hike consists of a walk passed the water and up a craggy
slope. As we are walking down the slope, we pass Roy Hopkins walking
up. It's definitely nice to have some quiet time before the race.
As we are coming off the hill, we hear the first engine firing
up. We get back in the car and head to the starting line. We are
directly in front of JD today. We burn through this stage without ever
seeing JD in our rearview mirror. During the in-town portion of the
stage, we almost take a wrong turn down someone's driveway, which would
have been catastrophic. As we approach the finish line, we see Alex
Brosseau in our rear view mirror - he has passed JD and caught up with
us. Great driving.
The next stage is Frenchman's Cove. This is where the
Mustang's clutch blew last year. Luckily, the BMW is running great so
far. During the Harbour Mille stage, we experimented with getting
closer to our trophy times than our targa times. Since the trophy times
are much easier to make, they are not as difficult on the car or
driver. For Frenchman's Cove, we take it nice and easy until JD catches
up with us. We battle it out during the in-town part of the stage, but
let him pull away once we are back in the straights.
The next two stages are Marystown South and Fox Cove. I get a little
bit lost in the log book on the Marystown stage and just hang on for
the ride. At one point, I'm so lost that I just wave at the spectators.
Karl doesn't like this - "What the hell are you doing!?"
After these two stages, we break for lunch in Burin. Last year, Karl
and I made friends with some of the local residents: Karen and Michael
Hollett. As we parked the car for lunch, Karen's older brother, Steven,
tells us that we "shouldn't go to lunch here. Go anywhere but here.
Karen is waiting for you down at lunch." This was a part of the trip I
had been looking forward to: the girl with a crush on Karl.
Burin is the town with the best view on our trip. It consists of a
small clutch of houses overlooking a glassy bay. On one side of the
bay, there is a church; on the other, a large rocky hill. The place
where we eat used to be the fishermen's storehouse - there are still
some lobster traps stacked above the restrooms. Lunch consists of dried
roast beef, various cold salads and mashed potatoes.
Karen is walking around the storehouse with a journal-type
book - It looks like the guestbook you write in at funerals, weddings
and bed and breakfasts. She is collecting signatures of all the
drivers. When she gets to our table, Karl chats with her for a little
while - I sense that she is a bit shy.
After lunch, we stand outside and look out on the bay. Karen's younger
brother, Michael, starts hanging on me and trying to wrestle. It's kind
of weird so I ask him to stop. We look down into the water trying to
spot some well camouflaged sea life. We see lots of starfish and
mussels. As well as a couple small fish that I've forgotten the name
There is a 3 piece band (guitar, accordion, drums) playing
traditional Newfoundland music. The players are all under 17 years old.
The music is good, but a little bit too loud. Last year in Burin, this
was the end of the road for us - the Mustang's clutch had finally given
up the ghost. It was nice to be able to simply enjoy the scenery and
our new friends hospitality.
We go back to the parking lot and take a quick look at the car. We are
able to fix the broken passenger side window - it turns out that the
window had pushed through the pocket at the bottom of the door panel.
Once the door panel pocket was removed, the window operated correctly.
The effects of the night before have caught up with JD - he is taking a light nap in his car. He is The Wolf.
Rick MacLeod and Bob Pacione are sitting on the hill overlooking the parking lot. They are The Lieutenant and The General.
Kevin Young and his crew are wrenching on their beleaguered, sputtering 71 Datsun 240Z. They are The Lawnmower Mechanics.
Slowly, everyone makes their way back to the cars and we begin
the Burin stage. The Burin is a longish 11KM slog. Towards the end,
there is a horrendous clunking sound coming from the passenger upper
strut tower... The car is not handling any differently so we complete
the stage at speed. We pull over shortly after the checkered flag -
Dave McIntyre's crew is parked along side the road. They take a quick
look at the car and so do we. We cannot figure out what is making the
racket. Karl is muttering about the car being a piece of sh!t, blah
We decide to drive the next short stage (Fortune) as slowly as
possible. Since we do not have a rally computer, this is very
difficult. We miss our Trophy time by 10 seconds -- No plate for us.
Karl is bitterly disappointed. I don't really give a sh!t about missing
the time. I am more interested in finishing the race than anything
else. What makes our loss even more difficult to accept is that the car
is NO LONGER MAKING THE SOUND! Later on, we theorize that the upper
strut bearing got a little bit heated up from being under the bonnet of
a flat black car in a sunny parking lot for almost 2 hours. That's
We transit to the next stage, Frenchman's Cove North. We BS
Scott Giannou for a bit. Scott gives us a little balm for our wounds:
"I've been in all 4 Targas and I never won a Trophy Plate... The goal
is to finish, boys." There is some idle chit-chat about going to Targa
Tasmania. $5000 just to ship your car there -- yikes!
While we are waiting for our start time, Matt Koestner pulls
up in his 1995 Integra. There is a bit of black smoking pouring out
from under his hood. It appears that his turbocharger's oil return line
blew out and sprayed oil on the exhaust manifold. The oil then caught
on fire. Later, we will see him in the Marystown parking lot wrenching
on the car. He notes that it's an impossibility that the braided
stainless steel oil return line would blow out. Again, that's Targa.
We finish Frenchman's Cove without incident - we are still a little bit
spooked about the bearing, so we lay off. We play tag with JD for a
little bit of this stage: it's lots of fun. Again the memories come
back as we finish this stage - this is basically where the Mustang's
clutch broke last year. As we glide passed the pebble turn off after
the checkered flag, I breath a little easier. Even with the noisy strut
bearing I think we will finish Targa...
The final stage of the day is the reverse of the earlier
Marystown South stage. The sound is completely gone, so we decide to
have at it on this stage. Without the need to make our trophy time, we
hang back and wait for JD and Bob to catch up with us. We spend a good
half of this stage flat-out, side-by-side in very narrow city streets.
There are a couple spots, that I'm convinced that we are going to take
out someone's house or hit a curb at 140kph. The final 2 straights are
the wildest 30 seconds of our entire 2 year Targa saga.
Our cars need gas, so we go to the gas station before our In
at the arena. I double check the in-time and we have 3 minutes to get
there! Karl stops pumping the gas (we have about 2 gallons in) and we
speed off to the Arena. We get there just in time. Karl returns to the
gas station and goes through the car wash ritual. In the meantime, I
mill around the arena and stretch my legs.
About 15 cars are being patched back together in the parking lot. Last
year, we were one of the teams working on our car here. It feels good
to be more or less worry free. There is still the noisy strut bearing
problem to contend with though...
After our cars are tucked into the arena, I start shooting my mouth off about the SRT8 300C:
"It's funny that it took Mercedes Benz to build the ultimate
American car. They never would have/could have done it with out the
Germans! Chrysler sucked, blah blah blah."
"I'm responsible for building this car. I'm Dan Knott, the head of the SRT group at DiamlerChrysler."
I hastily insert my foot in my mouth.
We jack up the front of our car and start fiddling around with it.
There is a small but noticeable clunk from the upper strut bearing when
the wheel is turned back and forth. Scott Smith and Peter Guagenti see
us working on the car so they give us there assessment: Peter says,
"Your radiator cap isn't tightened all the way. Look at all the coolant
spray on the strut tower." Sure enough, the cap has 1/8 of a turn left
in it. This explains the coolant smell and slight loss of coolant over
the last couple of days.
Since the radiator wasn't a big concern for us, we recruit Roy Hopkins
to take a quick look at the car. He agrees with our strut bearing
diagnosis and notes that even if it does fail completely, we should be
able to nurse it through to the end.
The SRT8 300C is sporting some damage from its trip into the
ditch on the Burin stage. Ackerson is triumphant - He helped pull the
Chrysler out of the ditch with JD's Hummer. Naturally, he half-jokingly
asked them for a "towing fee." The Chrysler team did not have a good
day today... the other car, a Charger SRT8 also went into the ditch
much harder. Later we see it sitting on a flat bed: at first glance it
doesn't look too bad. The most obvious damage is to the rear drivers
door; it looks as if someone neatly cut out the entire panel. Since it
is up on the flatbed, we get a chance to look at the front
undercarriage. The engine has a huge hole in the bottom end and the
crossmember looks like a pretzel.
Karl, JD, Bob and I leave Jon with a stack of DVDs and the signs we
made in Clarenville, and head over to the Captain's Table for some more
The bar/restaurant is filled with Targa competitors. We drink Quidi
Vidi and eat fish and chips. Three young women approach our table and
tell us that they are selling raffle tickets to benefit the family of a
friend who died in a car accident a couple months ago. The somber
announcement is meant with a "I'm-a-proctologist...
Do-you-wanna-smell-my-finger?" From JD. We each buy 5 bucks worth of
raffle tickets from the girls but we leave before they do the drawing.
We return to the stadium to collect the Hummer and Darryl and head to
our accommodations for the night: The something-or-other Cottages.
We drive about 15 minutes outside of town, down 3 dirt roads and into a
small cluster of cottages by a large lake. The cottage is a small 2
bedroom and a kitchen affair. I am absolutely beat from the day's
travels, so I claim one of the bedrooms -- I offer the spot next to me
to anyone who wants it, but no one obliges. Karl sleeps on the floor
again and Bob decides to sleep on the small couch in the kitchen area.
JD naturally takes the other bedroom - after all he is paying for the
cottage. Darryl and Bob are, somehow, not tired so they decide to go
back to Marystown for some fun and games.
DAY NINE - 9/16/05
When I wake up the next morning at 5am, there is a deep fog coming off
of the lake. I can make out a huge kid's slide about 15 feet offshore -
it looks like some strange relic left by an advanced civilization. To
increase the odd feeling, there is a small, domesticated rabbit hopping
around our yard. I approach it and it doesn't run away. While I'm
petting it, JD comes out and starts laughing - "What are you doing? It
could be rabid!"
Bob and Darryl got back to the cottage at around 2am. Bob slept on the
couch and Darryl slept in the Hummer. We wake Darryl up and reload our
gear: we will be returning to St. John's tonight. It's the last day of
The day starts with a 2 hour transit to the first stage. Due
to our slight technical problems yesterday, we are positioned behind
the older classic cars. Translation: slower cars. During all of the
stages today, we will overtake one or more of these cars. In some
cases, we will pass nearly all of them!
Directly in front of us is Dan Coomber and Gord Ross in their
bright orange 72 Volvo. The car is running very rich and burning a bit
of oil - driving behind them gives us a small headache. When we go to
pass them, we are behind the bright orange Studebaker which smells even
worse... The officials have warned us that this foggy wet weather is
great for spotting moose. Great, that is, if you are not going 130mph!
The first stage is a 26KM course that only has 3 directions in
the route book. I sit back and let Karl do the driving. We blast passed
a couple of the classic cars and duke it out with the guys in the
Suzuki Swift. This is more or less the rhythm for the remainder of the
The second stage is cancelled so we transit to Placentia. This
is where we ate our welcome breakfast after the ferry trip on 9/10. I'm
already a bit sad (and a bit relieved) that the race is almost over.
The weather has taken a turn for the worse: it is alternating between
torrential downpours and light rain since the end of the last stage. We
are back on the Avalon Peninsula where it is always raining.
While we are waiting to start, a disgruntled local pulls up in his
pickup truck and asks "what the hell is going on!? This is the only way
into Placentia!" We shake our heads and tell him to talk to the
official... The driver of one of the (many) WRXs in the event tells us
that his car is basically running on 3 cylinders from the abuse of the
last 5 days. There are only 5 more stages left in the race.
Placentia is one of the most challenging courses so far; the
soaking wet road surface ratchets up the pressure a fair amount too.
The first half of the stage consists of mostly rural high speed roads
with lots of turns and crests. The second half is solid in-town action.
These two halves are divided by a drawbridge with a small toll booth or
operators booth in the center of the road. As we pass over the bridge,
I remember driving over it when we left Placentia on the 9/10. After
the bridge there is a brick wall that dictates a hard 90 degree left
turn. We make it through the course without catching anyone until we
get passed the bridge. True gentlemen, Gord and Dan move aside and let
us get passed them. We finish the stage without further incident and
park the car at the community center.
I can hear the race continuing all around us, so I head over to the 90
degree left turn and get another rare chance to watch the Targa
competition. I chat with Dave Macintyre's crew for a bit while we watch
each of the cars come in. The wildest turns are performed by the
vintage Mini and the Macleod and Pacione Mustangs.
After a bit, Alex Brosseau makes his way over to the viewing area. We
watch a couple more cars take the sharp turn. There is a short lull in
the action so Macintyre's crew asks Alex if he saw Dave or Ross at the
"Oh sh!t, no! Dave and Ross had an off - they were backed in a ditch the last time I saw them. It didn't look too bad."
"YOU'RE KIDDING... RIGHT?!"
"No. I'm serious."
With that they run off to their support vehicle and start making
preparations for the damaged M3. The Macintyre off is actually good
news for Karl and I: we are now in 3rd place in our class. In
benchracer voice: Had we hit it a lot harder over the last 5 days, I
think we would have been in 2nd.
Shortly afterwards, the Jarvis BMW 2002 comes barreling into the turn.
They jam the brakes and come within 2 feet of hitting the brick wall.
One problem: the car stalled. They have been having a restart problem
for most of the week - without Matt Koestner around to give them a push
start, they are dead in the water. Also this turn is not the best place
to break down.
Alex Brosseau jumps over the barrier and starts pushing the 2002 by
himself. Myself and a small group of other racers jump over and join in
on the effort. We get the car going up to about 15mph and let go.
It doesn't start.
All the time, I'm thinking about how Dr. Bob Pacione came flying around
that turn. I decide that the 2002 is in a good spot and jump back over
the barrier. "Come on - we can push them to the finish line!" Alex
Brosseau disappears around the corner with a couple other insane
competitors pushing the disabled 2002...
I head into lunch. Karl has saved me a spot across from JD and
Bob. We eat a thanksgiving-style turkey dinner - complete with gravy
and biscuits. With the wet cold weather and the exhilaration of pushing
the stalled 2002, I am ready for a nap.
I look out the window and I see the yellow E36 M3 of Ross and
Dave up on a flatbed. It is barely damaged: the rear bumper cover has a
small tear in it and the rear passenger tire has separated from the
wheel. They will be back in the game before lunch is over. Blowing the
last stage before lunch is particularly bad: you receive a penalty for
the stage and another penalty for missing your in-time. They are now
off by well over 20 minutes.
The fourth stage of the day is a long 40KM course -- the rain
has let up a bit but there is still some fog left to contend with.
Within 2 minutes of leaving the start line, we pass the ancient Volvo.
2 minutes later: Silas Ford in his 64 Comet. 2 minutes later: we come
up to the 66 Corvette (whose co-pilot we are convinced is senile) and
the white Jaguar. They seem to be having a little duel. We dust the
Corvette and Jag with no problems. Just as we pass them, we enter a
speed restriction zone. We can see the orange Studebaker about a ¼ mile
in front of us, but we cannot pass him. At the end of the SRZ is a
right turn down a zig-zag goat path. The road is barely wide enough to
accommodate the car and the surface is so cratered that we dare not go
faster than 40 mph. The Studebaker doesn't want to go faster than 30mph
so we have a two-car traffic jam until we make the right back onto RT
100. It takes us a good ½ mile to pull passed the Studebaker at wide
open throttle - by far one of the faster 'classic' classic cars
competing at Targa.
We finish this stage with the drop dead gorgeous 1957 Ferrari 250 GT
about 1/8 mile in front of us - the Ferrari was made for this stage. We
are unable to catch him.
The next three stages are all similar to this one: long high
speed sweeping straights. This is a nice cool down from the last 5 days
of hardcore stages. The final two stages of Targa are a classic Targa
courses: tight, fast and slippery.
Since it was easy for us to pass the vintage cars on the long courses,
we had no problem following them. But with these last two stages, the
course tightened up considerably; so we got our in-time then pulled
over to let the boys from Thunder Bay in the Swift be in front of us.
They have had no problem pulling on us during several stages so it's
doubtful that we will catch up with them.
Towards the end of the Conception Bay South stage, we come upon the
Swift trying to make a pass by the oblivious 66 Corvette (Team Senile).
The guys in the Swift were still on track for their Targa times, so
being stuck behind the slow poke Corvette was a huge problem. After the
race was through, the Swift driver (Richard Martin) was irate - he
missed the Targa time buy 5 seconds. He asked us if we saw what
happened and if we would back him up on his complaint. "NO PROBLEM!
That would have been us, if you guys hadn't gone in front!"
For the final stage of the race, the pouring rain has
returned. I recognize the area we are in right now, a rich American
doctor has built a nouveau castle along the coast. We came out to look
for it last year after Targa finished. This stage has lots of elevation
changes and lots of sharp turns. The elevation changes are great
because the rain is so hard now that small streams have begun to form
in the middle of the road. It is on one of these hills, we come the
closest to crashing during the entire race this year. We roll through
the finish line with a nice dose of adrenalin flowing through our
The TV2GO guy asks us what we thought the most challenging
stage was... "THIS ONE! Although Leading Tickles is still one of our
favorites..." We make the short transit to the final in-time area and
forfeit our last time card. We get chummy with all of our competitor
buddies, drink hot chocolate, eat some cookies then grab a couple beers
from the adjacent community center. For some reason, JD starts in on
his "I'm a Republican" shtick. My response: "You are more of an
anarchist than anything else."
After about an hour at our final staging area, we return to
St. John's, park the cars down by the waterfront and head up to George
Street where they will announce the various winners of the event. Last
year, the finishers parked their cars on George Street. Since the event
has grown, it is not possible -- we are a little bit disappointed since
that was one of the things that stuck in our mind from last year.
We immediately grab a couple of beers and watch Bob Giannou do
the champagne shower thing with the winners. We accept a dinner invite
from the other BMW teams in Targa: Peter Guagenti and Scott Smith, Roy
Hopkins and Adrian Hughes, Bill Arnold and Tamara Hull, Alex Brosseau
and Bruce Smith. If we return to Targa next year, I think we will need
to bring a BMW. The amount of support and knowledge that this small
group bring with them is more valuable than any amount of horsepower or
After dinner, we spend the evening going from bar to bar with Peter and
Scott. I take a cab home at around 2am. The rest of the gang comes in a
DAY TEN - 9/17/05
After 6 days of racing, we are exhausted. There is a charity autocross
at the NFLD Government Center but we can't seem to get up the energy to
head over to it. At around 1300, I take our car over to Signal Hill for
a hike. The LOW BRAKE PAD LINING idiot light is on - it came on during
our last stage of the race. We thought it was just a glitch. I think we
actually burned through a set of pads in one week. Amazing.
Signal Hill is the end of the transatlantic cable. It is still
an important satellite uplink area today. There is a 3 mile hike down
to the rocky shore and back up to the building that sits at the top of
the Hill... There are wooden stairs and a boardwalk to make the descent
and subsequent hike fairly easy. I complete the walk in about an hour.
The end of the trail lets me out on a small crooked street that is
directly on the water. There are small 3 and 4 story brightly painted
wood houses along the waterfront. Some have shops devoted to arts and
crafts such as pottery or knitting in them. All seem to have a small
slip or dock in the water - very charming.
The crooked street puts me back at an area near the road that I took to
go up the hill. Unfortunately, it's a 45 degree angle up the hill and I
need to get back to the hotel. I flag down a cab and he gives me a lift
to the top of the hill. This was the best $5 I've ever spent.
After I return to the hotel, we head out to a Mexican
restaurant on George Street. Our party consists of JD, Jon, Bob,
Darryl, Karl, Jason Cahill and his wife. We sit at a large table in the
far corner of the restaurant.
On the other end of the table, Jon "Hollywood" Ackerson is chatting up
his grandiose plans with Jason Cahill. During the conversation on our end of the table , I catch small bits of the nonsense from the other end of
the table. As a side note, Newfoundland is known for many things...
Mexican food is not one of them.
We return to the hotel and we start making preparations to attend the
Gala Dinner. I haven't shaved for the last 10 days so I look like an
escaped mental patient. I carve a small goatee out of the mess on my
face and I still look like a lunatic.
Since no one looked at an itinerary, we arrive about 20 minutes late.
We mingle with the other competitors at the open bar for a bit. I get a
chance to talk to Bob Esseltine about his SR20'd Datsun 510. He tells
me that he and his other son have recently returned from Japan on a R32
Skyline GT-R buying expedition. "It's hard to find clean examples -
they are very popular for road racing. We were lucky enough to pick up
an unmolested 1994, that should be arriving any day now." I briefly
chat with the other Nissan guys there, too Bob's son Chris and Kevin
Young. They are talking about a friend with a Pulsar GTi-R that would
make a great candidate for Targa...
The open bar closes a bit too early and we make our way into
the dining area. I drink a bottle of wine and start benchracing talk
about winning 2006. Karl gives me the smackdown: "You sound like
Ackerson, shut up."
This year, there is a charity silent auction for a bunch of local
stuff: from t-shirts to native American soap stone carvings. Cool stuff
-- souvenir shopping should be fun this year! The award dinner draws to
a close (Bill Arnold, overall winner; Team Kloosterman, Spirit of
Targa, etc) and we head over to the Martini Bar for another Targa
sponsored event. The place is absolutely mobbed with people - since it
is Saturday night, George Street is starting to pick up, again.
Even though there is a large celebration going on, there is a little bit of sadness in the air. Targa 2005 is history.
DAY ELEVEN - 9/18/05JD departs at 6am with little fanfare. He
will be back in Newburgh by 12pm today (Sunday). We will not be back
until 2pm Tuesday.
Since Targa is now officially over, we have some time to spend
doing other stuff. We drive out to Cape Spear and check out the
lighthouse and battlements. There is a good solid rain falling so we
don't spend too much time there. Afterwards, we head out to Cape St.
Mary. There is 2 mile unpaved road that leads to a large concrete
helipad over the ocean. Again, the rain shortens our stay outside of
the vehicle, but it is nice to see these places once more. The long
wheel base Jeep Unlimited is pretty capable in these conditions.
As we are driving around, we hear a loud bang from a corner of
the city. When we return to the darkened Holiday Inn, we realize that a
transformer has blown somewhere. After a few hours, the power comes
back on - we sit around and watch TV until the night falls.
We have not seen Jon since Friday night. He has the Hummer. This is not good.
Karl, Bob and I eat a pretty good steak dinner at The Keg down on the
waterfront; as we are finishing up our meal, Ackerson sidles into the
dining room. After dinner, we head out into St. John's one last time -
tomorrow we will be boarding the ferry at midnight.
DAY TWELVE - 9/19/05
After a breakfast of gooseberry waffles at small dinette, we spend the
morning shopping for souvenirs: Duckworth Street and Main Street are
the centers of our attention. Last year, I made the mistake of buying
Laura a 'grand matronly' sweater - it had 2 large puffins on each side.
Although it was handmade and cost a bundle, it did not go over very
This year, I'm focusing on jewelry. I pick up a large chunky silver
ring set with the local mineral Labradorite. The stone is a translucent
green color - Laura will love it. Before we left the hotel this
morning, I made a 12:30 reservation at a Sea Kayaking outfit in Bay
Bulls. We are a little late in departing from St. John's, so I call the
kayaking place and they say that they will hold the tour for us.
||Todd - August 30, 2005
It's starting to look like a race car.
|7 Days Left…
||Todd -August 23, 2005
|Here's every possible thing I can think of in no particular order:
Get car running properly. Install new MAFs/clean ISV/etc
- Compress Bolsters on seats
- Install rug
Finish install on headliner ('oh-shit' handle)
- Get passenger seat installed correctly (inner track is bent)
Install brake vents
- Install new brake rotors/pads/lines/fluid
Remove splash guards/dust shields from brakes
Get ABS working properly (swap computers and check grounds)
Find/Rewire driver's window switch
repair window-up sensor on driver's door
replace door handle on passenger door
- Re-install rear window
Remove window trim from M3/Install onto 325is
Weld in sunroof panel
Prep and Paint 325is
- Finish rollcage install/Bolt together cage.
- Install harnesses
- Mount/balance tires
Install frame brace
- Get spare parts together
Troubleshoot temp gauge (swap VDO box from M3??)
Straighten steering wheel
- Replace coolant/water with distilled water and Water Wetter.
- Install jack/wheels/firstaid kit/fire extinguisher/etc (we might want to get these items from the Mustang)
- Secure battery
- Get spare keys made for doors and ignition
- Test-fit fire suits and helmets
- Cap off emissions tube from gas tank
Install DME and trim/waterproof panel
- Check all fluids including diff and trans
- Install windshield wipers
- Install rollcage padding
||Todd - Friday, August 14, 2005
Karl works on installing the rollcage.
As we approach the final days leading up to Targa 2005, there is a
growing feeling of "WHAT THE HECK DID WE GET OURSELVES INTO!?"
We've gone severely over budget and it feels like we don't have much to show for it.
Karl made a sage remark today, "We are trying to do something on half the budget in half the time."
Although we got the car running, it's not running right.
We can't afford shocks all-around.
The golden goose (Audi) has turned into an albatross.
We still need to pay for entry and lodging. I'm bringing an Aerobed and a tent just in case!
What I've come to realize about racing is that the cost of entry is
extremely expensive. Our 330is will have cost us approximately $8500
when we finally get it all together. Although that figure is a good
value, it is still alot of cash for two average joes to float.
I've also learned that like most complicated/expensive activities,
there is never enough money. Since Karl and I knew we could spend
around $8K, we built a car that cost us $9K. For half the original
figure (and less than half the time), we could have done maintenance,
safety and performance mods on my 91 Sentra SE-R and raced that. Would
it have been as badass? Probably not. Would we have felt the challenge? Nope.
So, what do you get for all this expense? Is it money thrown out the window of a fast moving car?
Not really. What's the price tag for adventure? Not the safe,
handheld-cruise-ship-style adventure. Real adventure -- where you have
no idea what's going to happen until it's all over.
Last year, Karl said that Targa was NOT a vacation. I completely
disagreed with him. Targa demanded ALL of our attention, stamina and
determination -- things that the daily everday rarely or never fully
demands. Ideally, a vacation should allow you to 'get away from it
all'; if shattering your brake rotors at 125mph (and fixing it
afterwards) isn't getting away from it all, I don't know what is.
On the positive side, we will, hopefully, have a car that we can
liquidate for $8-10K when we are finished. But after the last 6 months,
it'll truly feel like blood money.
|Deep Fried DME
||Todd - August 1, 2005
spent last Wednesday night retrofitting the EWS II system into the 1992
325is. Amazingly, we got the EWS to work. But the car still had the
same problems: no spark, no fuel, no DME signal and a buzzing main
At 3:30am, we decided it would be best to sleep on it and
think about all the things we've learned about the E36
Over the next day, we both agreed that the problem was not in the body
wiring (a sentiment echoed by Bill Arnold, et al) rather it was in the
On Friday, we tested all the grounds coming out of the DME for continuity and solid ground.
All of the wires checked out. Everything was pointing to the ECU/DME.
We cracked open the back of the DME and inspected the pins closely. #6 (shield ground) and #28 (inj
ground) were both burned out.
It seems that we rested the DME on the jump point at some
point. #28 controls the ground to the crank sensor so that was a
definite problem. We were able to repair #28 but #6 was not accessible.
We reinstalled the 'repaired' DME back and turned the key to the ON
position. No more buzzing main relay. The air stabilizer made a low
This was a new development!
Karl cranked it for a second...
#2 Coil pack is making spark. I smell fuel from the bottom of the car.
We tighten down the clamp on the fuel line and the BUH BUH BUH BWAAAAAAA (sound of I6 with no exhaust).
Unfortunately, it is throwing code #1215 (MAF sensor failure)...
Hopefully, this is due to the absence of pin #6. We shall see once we
install a new 413 DME.
We test drove the car on Sunday and it's running kind of
shatty -- which is to be expected with no MAF signal. We were unable to
beat on it properly due to this condition and the new clutch. We'll
report back once we've worked out these problems.
||Todd - Friday, July 24, 2005
|Our ///M330is has hit a major roadblock.
In the early 1990s (or 1980s if you use a Macintosh), the computer industry came up with the term "Plug-and-Play":
The ///M330is is not plug-and-play.
1. Hardware or software that, after being installed
("plugged in"), can immediately be used ("played with"), as
opposed to hardware or software which requires configuration.
After we plugged the X20 connector (body to DME wiring harness), the
main relay made a buzzing sound (opening and closing very quickly). No
spark and no fuel. The DME won't even throw a code via the trusty 5
pumps of the gas pedal.
Not good at all. Since the 92 325is didn't have the EWS II system, I ordered a TMS Conforti chip with EWS Delete.
The relay did the same thing after the TMS chip install.
We have a wiring problem. I ordered the Bentley manual and downloaded
the ETM pages off of www.bmwtechinfo.com ($25/day!). We looked at the
diagrams and the engine bay for a couple hours. Time for some REAL
Karl called BMW guru, Bill Arnold and I emailed Dave Macintyre.
Dave kindly passed my email onto a group of BMW tech nuts (among them, a couple of other fellow Targa competitors).
The general consensus is that the problem is the EWS II system (or
lack thereof). Bill said that we should retrofit the EWS II system into
the 325is. Luckily, the ETM has a great diagram of the EWS (the Bentley
manual has a good one too).
Tonight, Karl and I will be pulling an all-nighter. Hopefully, we can get the car started... Pictures to come!
||Todd - July 22, 2005
We finally got the car back together
enough to roll out of the garage. We still have LOTS of work to do over
the next 48 days... I'm starting to get worried:
- get car finished (yikes)
- weld in sunroof
figure out EWS/wiring issues
hook up fuel lines
hook up/bleed brake lines
replace H20 pump and t-stat housing
- replace all belts
- tighten down a dozen different little things
- compress bolsters on vaders
install rug, headliner and glovebox
install radiator support
- sell Audi
- pay for entry
- pay for hotel
order roll cage
- install roll cage
- order brakes/SS brake lines/rotors/suspension
- install brakes/SS brake lines/rotors/suspension
- order tires
track down another 17" M3 wheel
- break-in clutch
- break-in car
- order fire suit and helmet
- prep and paint the car
- pack a big bunch of spare parts
|How Much Does It Cost To Build A Race Car?: Part 1
||Todd - July 21, 2005
And we are only 75% completed!
||Todd - Friday, July 17, 2005
1992-1999 E36 BMW was afflicted with several problems from the factory.
Chiefly, very weak sheet metal on the suspension mounting points. After
a couple years of use the rear subframe mounting areas can BREAK OFF.
Other trouble spots are the rear upper strut tower mounting points...
the struts can punch through the top of the mount. Although, many
manufacturer's products have design flaws, BMW failed to correct this
VERY SERIOUS one in the E46! I think this is a bit embarassing for a
company with BMW's reputation... Anyhow, the 325is forward passenger
rear subframe mount was torn completely out of the car when we dropped
Moving on to the engine, the S50/S52 engine
found in the M3, has a nut that holds down the oil pump gear. The nut
has a tendency to loosen up. After the nut loosens up enough, the gear
stops spinning -- catastrophic engine failure follows e few seconds
Another bunch of fun with the early E36 models was BMW's
use of a plastic water pump and thermostat housing. When plastic is
exposed to heat and antifreeze, it gets brittle and eventually
shatters. Again, catastrophic engine failure (if you don't watch the
These things are not good for a race car.
corrected all of these problems while we were putting the car back
together. The oil pump nut got some lock-tite (bottem end of motor
looks BRAND NEW), we welded up the rear subframe area and we'll be
installing the metal water pump and t-stat housing next week.
If all goes well, we'll have the car running and driving by next weekend!
Thanks to David McIntyre, fellow BMW nut, we found out about another trouble spot on the M3 -- weak rear control arms!
|325is Teardown Time Lapse
||Todd - July 2005
|M3 Teardown Day 1
||Todd - June 2005
|Running & Driving...
||Todd - June 2005
Last week, I picked up a set of wheels and tires for the M3 --
knock-off LTWs and a pair of junkyard tires. I know it's not exactly
race-spec equipment, but we wanted to test drive the M3 before we
dismantled it. Although Karl heaped insults on me for my constant
whining about driving the car, I wanted to make sure there were no
other surprises before we went through the conversion.
Although the M3 was hit very hard on the A-pillar, it drove like a
champ! We were doing 75-80 mph on tight back roads -- this would be a
seriously life-threatening activity in the 1992 325is. The brakes are
incredible on this car: we did several 60-0 stops and it felt as if we
were under the influence of some supernatural force from der fatherland.
No dancing ABS brake pedal. No smoke. No drama. Just tons of
euro-stopping power. The motor is also a drama-free deal: it simply
pulls harder and harder until it reaches its glorious 7K redline. It's
a little weak on the low-end, but who cares... If we wanted torque, we
would be driving a late-80s Mustang GT! The final component of this car
that bears mention is the chassis. There are absolutely no groans,
shakes, shimmys, creeks or flexes evident. This is especially
impressive from a car with a curb weight of less than 1400kg and
Overall, I feel that the M3 is an extremely capable car: from
the carved-from-billet chassis to the
hit-your-face-on-the-steering-wheel brakes, this car is awesome.
After our test run, I backed the car into the garage. This is the last time it will ever move under its own power.
Cue the violins and fire-up the Sawzall®!
PS. You can see more pics of the M3 here: http://www.whistlehog.com/m3/
||Todd - Saturday, May 21, 2005 | 08:58
After months of searching for a heavily damaged 95-99 M3 as a donor for
our 325is race car, one finally popped up on eBay for the right price:
The most immediate problem was the car's lack of wheels. I frantically
searched through the major BMW forums -- bimmerforums.com and
roadfly.org. Bimmerforums ROCKS! roadfly does not.
After paging back to April 4th in the wheels/tires section of
bimmerforums, I came upon a listing for 2 or 3 replica LTW M3 wheels
with tires for $30! Even better the seller was in Westchester, NY! I am
all over this.
I fired off a couple patented crazyman emails (mostly in CAPS)... about
how I needed the wheels YESTERDAY and I was willing to do anything to
get them. I tripled his asking price to get his attention and reinforce
Luckily, the guy selling them was very punctual. He got back to me by
the next morning (all you can really hope for with email, right?) and I
arranged to pick them up that night at 9pm.
A little digression... In 1983, The Police released their 4th album: Synchronicity. Here's a snippet of the title track:
A connecting principle
It turns out that Karl needed a lift up to Scarsdale to pick up his
truck so we could tow the M3 home from Jerkwater, VA the NEXT DAY. I
left work, got to Karl's at around 8pm (he just got home from work) and
we rolled up to Scarsdale.
Linked to the invisible
Logic so inflexible
Yet nothing is invincible
We agreed to meet at the Staples® on Central Ave. Karl was unsure of
which direction to go on Central so as I was looking around, I saw a
black CTS-V (the wheel guy's car!) in the right turning lane!
In the Staples® parking lot, he broke the news to us that he only had 2 (mismatched) wheels with tires. Oh well.
I asked, "How much do we owe you then?"
He replied, "Don't worry about it."
I was like, "Huh?"
So there are cool people in the world after all! Faith in humanity
restored, I dropped Karl off at his truck which was less than five
minutes away. On the drive home, I think about the fun we'll be having
at this hour tomorrow!
Although I now had 2 17" M3 wheels, I still had a problem: I needed 4
total. I called the seller and asked if it had the spare - no dice. So
I pulled the spare and the back wheel from the 325is. I mentally
prepared myself (and Karl) for the eventuality of having to yank the M3
calipers to make the 15 inchers fit after a 7 HOUR DRIVE.
We did the usual car pickup/road trip rituals: dunkin donuts®, tow
dolly pick-up, snacks, CDs, etc. We were on the road by 9am. Since we
had already done the Iron Pipeline when we picked up the 325is, I
figured I wouldn't need to consult the Mapquest® directions or a map.
After several small detours and several hours of driving, we made it to
Kinsale, VA - a small town on one of the panhandles between the Potomac
(north) and Chesapeake Bay (east).
It should be noted that the country in this part of the world is
beautiful: Long rolling hills, lush fields, big farmhouses, etc. It was
particularly nice since we had just driven through 2 hours of
sprawl/strip mall hell on Maryland's Route 301. My latest pet peeves:
those tin/steel car ports ($595 installed) and Mexican fast food
restaurants that are built to look like they came directly from ol'
Mehico (On the Border, et al).
Back to Kinsale and the M3… The seller's place is a modest used car lot
with the usual suspects sitting out front: 80s Lincoln Continentals,
90s Chevy Cavaliers and Berettas, etc. Karl says, "Why the hell does
this guy have the M3!" It turns out that he sells the high-end cars on
ebay in a partnership with his son...
We greet and make introductions; all the while craning our necks into
the garage for a look at the sapphire jewel from der fatherland.
The M3 is up on three jacks. The hit looks way worse than the eBay®
auction pictures; I think if someone else had purchased it to rebuild,
they would have been a little taken aback. But then again, there are a
lot of dreamers out there! Screw them.
The passenger A-pillar took the hit… hard; so bad, in fact, that the
driver's door doesn't close right! When you look at the windshield of
the car from a distance greater than 30 yards, it's clear that the
passenger side of the windshield is about 20 degrees out of whack and
the roof is a bit pushed up.
We didn't care about the body damage. We did care about the condition
of the engine and suspension, though. So the seller threw the jumpbox
on and we started 'er up.
TICK TICK TICK TICK TICK
I said, "She's got a bit of a tick." I was thinking, "That should settle down in a few seconds."
TICK TICK TICK TICK TICK
TICK TICK TICK TICK TICK
TICK TICK TICK TICK TICK
TICK TICK TICK TICK TICK
Houston, we have a problem. Karl did all of his used car inspection
rituals: sticking his ear into the oil filler opening, inhaling the
exhaust, licking the radiator cap, etc. We were hoping that it was just
an exhaust leak/bad igniter/bad injector etc, but it was loud and very
mechanical sounding. And it did not go away after we let the car run
for about 20 minutes.
While the car was running, we took a good look around. As with most of
the salvage cars we've seen, this one is in good shape except the
damage from the accident. It had been in an accident (documents found
in the car later reveal it was a $2867 repair!) prior to this one, but
what do we care; everything appears to be in working order. The sunroof
even works -- A first for Karl and E36 BMWs!
The TICK still has not gone away. So we shut the car off, let it sit for a few minutes and turn it back on.
TICK TICK TICK TICK TICK
TICK TICK TICK TICK TICK
TICK TICK TICK TICK TICK
TICK TICK TICK TICK TICK
Since we are buying this car for basically the engine, this is
important. I'm initially unsure if we should go through with the buy.
But we don't want to leave empty-handed with 18 hours and $250 in
tolls, gas, rental, etc. So we cut a deal with the seller and start
getting the car ready for the long ride home.
The M3 wheels go on the back of the car with absolutely no problems. We
remove the calipers from the front of the car and stick our 15 inchers
on. Problem: the rotor is too big for the 15s! Solution: invert the
spare tire. The M3 now has a wide-body appearance on the passenger
side. Another problem, we cannot invert the regular wheel: the hub
tapers on the outside lip. I wish I had a Dremel® right now! We leave
the lugs on very loosely so the wheel spins a little bit but eventually
locks up. Luckily the M3 has no problem pushing the dead wheel...
After a bit more nonsense, we get the car loaded on the tow dolly. Karl
is the master of moving large objects around. It's amazing to watch him
work. He's such a dynamo that all you can do to help is stand back and
hand him the tools.
We pull out of Kinsale at around 6:30pm.
Seven hours later, we pull into my driveway. Leaving the car on the tow
dolly, I'm asleep within 30 seconds of laying down. It has been a very
tough, but very rewarding, 36 hours.
|Pwned by NYS DMV
||Todd - Sunday, May 01, 2005 | 10:36
|Not really 'owned' but the nether regions still hurt.
If you remember, we purchased the car with ALL the glass smashed out.
Since it had been sitting for over 3 months, some moisture had leaked
in and caused the first 2 figures of the VIN tag (located on the
dash/lower right windshield) to rust away. NYS DMV does not allow a car
to be titled with a defaced VIN so we had to remove the windshield that
we just installed so they could reVIN it.
This is THE definition of "jumping through hoops".
We pulled the windshield, bumper cover and inner fender lining
the morning before the inspection; so we didn't waste that much time.
Additionally, we only spent 1.5 hours at the facility this time. The
mechanic/inspector who looked over the car was actually pretty cool,
too. He asked me how much I got the car for -- When I told him, he
thought it was a pretty good deal.
Speaking of deals, we now know the final cost of our BMW: $1761.30
(spent $125 for tow and re-VIN). Given the shape of the car, this is a
bit ($250 to 500) below the going rate on eBaymotors.com.
So I guess we did get a 'deal' in the end. The crazy thing is
the cost of the car and glass was less than $950. It was all the other
stuff: fees, DMV, tax, towing that really zapped us. If you don't need
to title your race car, salvage is definitely the way to go.
|NY 907A Salvage Inspection
||Todd - Tuesday, April 19, 2005 | 07:35
|So we took the car to the NY 907A salvage inspection.
We failed. More about that later.
Since NYS doesn't really tell you what happens at the NY 907A salvage
inspection, there are a couple of myths that I'd like to clear up:
Myth: It takes forever to get a car inspected.
Reality: It takes less than a month to get an appointment for your inspection.
Myth: The staff at these facilities are evil.
Reality: I was treated with nothing but the utmost
professionalism; the process could be outlined better at the facility
though. They do have guns, handcuffs and badges though; so if you have
a stolen part on the car you might want to think twice.
Myth: If I have a missing VIN #, the inspector will simply slap a new VIN # on the offending part.
Reality: If the part is completely accessible, *they might*.
Otherwise, you must remove anything that obscures the offending part
and come back at another date. If you have a non-VIN'd part, you might
want to go down to the facility where the inspection is scheduled and
ask some questions. They might not like it, but at least you'll get
It's odd that NYS does not have any phone number or
information outlet for these sorts of questions/problems. It's one of
the things that makes this process very daunting.
Myth: You can't drive your salvage vehicle to the inspection center.
Reality: Althought the vehicle will need to pass a safety
inspection at your local garage, you can apply for a 5-day transporter
plate to go to the salvage inspection. If you have a buddy with a
dealer plate, YOU CANNOT use the plate to take the car to the
Anyhow, the 325 failed for several reasons:
The VIN tag under the windshield had some corrosion on it so it was
considered defaced/damaged. NYS cannot release a car with a damaged VIN
tag so we need to pull the windshield out and bring the car back so it
can be re-VIN'd. I believe this was the main reason the car failed.
The front driver's side fender had no VIN #s on it. I need to
remove the inner fender lining so the inspector can complete the
investigation and re-VIN the part.
The passengers quarter panel has been replaced. I need to
remove the rear bumper cover to the inspector can complete the
investigation and re-VIN the part.
In our naivete, we thought that a 14 year-old car with 201K
miles would have been given some leeway as far as non-VIN'd parts --
As you can see from the above spreadsheet, what started out as a good
deal ($525) has blossomed into a not-so-good-deal. I'm not sure I
would've paid $1636.00 for a 92 BMW w/ 200,000+ miles and a salvage
title... But now that we are neck deep, the only direction to go is
||Todd - Sunday, April 10, 2005 | 10:53
|Since our salvage inspection is coming up, we have most of the glass in the 325 finally:
Since the car is now driveable, we took it on its first real
test drive. It revealed alot of problems: grinding from the rear
(guibo? diff?), warped front rotors, totally clapped out suspension
(call me Ishmael) and a most troubling lack of acceleration.
This car is slow.
OK, it's not Ford Festiva slow but it is nowhere near sports car fast.
The BMW people would like you to believe that this car is a sport sedan or coupé. My test drive left me wondering where the sport
went. A friend of mine had a 2001 330CI (230hp) and it was f-a-s-t. I
was hoping for similar acceleration from the lighter 189hp E36 --
I've begun the process of trying to find a late-model (98-99)
completely totalled E36 M3. The car must run and drive, have a 5-speed
transmission, have most of its suspension intact and it absolutely must
have the 'vader' seats! I think we can find a car that matches these
criteria for under $4K from an insurance auction.
If we sell off $2K in M3/325is parts, we will have a 98+ M3 for under $4K. Not a bad deal methinks.
|Things Heat Up
||Todd - Sunday, April 10, 2005 | 10:46
|Several things of note have happened over the last couple of days:
Karl and I bought our first moneymaking car (1994 Land Rover
Discovery -- makes me realize how much I hate these vehicles in
particular *and* SUVs in general). It needs about a million little
things before we sell it but it's in pretty nice shape.
Our NY 907A salvage inspection appointment is April 18th.
Our used-car dealer/captain, JD, informed us that we could not use his
dealer plate to bring the car to the inspection since it was being
registered in my name. We will need to have the car towed -- had I
known this was the case, I could have applied for a transporter
temporary tag... You know what the say about ASSuming.
website has finally launched. You can see a short (2 min, 40 sec) clip
with some of the Targa action if you visit the site. Note: I am not
affiliated with 11thhourracing.com in any way, shape or form.
I met up with the film crew from our 2004 misadventure. Paul
Maloney and Dan Zimmer provided excellent support last year -- I think
it would be great to have a real, dedicated support crew this year. We
just need a more fuel efficient vehicle (*NOT* Jim Turner's 48 foot
long Hummer limo/manliness extension)...
|BMW CCA Membership
||Todd - Sunday, April 10, 2005 | 10:18
"I don’t care to belong to any club that will have me as a member." — Groucho Marx
About 3 weeks ago, I recieved the BMW Car Club of America
membership in the mail. The envelope included a club card (see above),
CCA bylaws and a brochure with all the benefits of membership. To be
honest, I had read most of them online before purchasing our
membership: track time (autocross, etc), driver schools, Roundel
magazine subscription, technical service advisors and friends of BMW.
I talked with Karl about track time and driver school. He
seems to think that he doesn't need any driving instruction ("C'mon it
was all the car's fault!") and that dialing-in the BMW can be
accomplished on empty late-night city streets. Both are very strange
conclusions -- I need to work on him about this.
I got my first Roundel magazine in the mail yesterday and I
can truthfully say that the cost of club membership alone is worth the
subscription to this magazine. Lots of geeky BMW articles, tech info
and a gorgeous layout/expensive production to boot! Now, if the folks
who produce this high-end magazine would turn their attention to the
Another funny thing is the Friends of BMW. It's
basically a directory of people across the US and Canada that are
willing to help out a BMW CCA member in, I think, mechanical need. I
jokingly told Karl that I signed him up for it. When I explained what
it was, he lost his cool. I'd love to read some of the crazy stories
about the Friends of BMW. After a few too many calls, you'd probably want to join the Enemies of BMW.
On a closing note, I got a generic welcome email from the local CCA
chapter president, Scott Stowell. I immediately emailed him back and
introduced myself and our plans to campaign an E36 at Targa in 2005.
Scott replied very quickly with warm wishes. I'm very excited to get
together with the local BMW types when we finally have the car on the
road... or maybe I'll terrorize them with my 280hp SR20DET 240sx S13
|Man, You Screwed That Car Up!
||Todd - Wednesday, March 16, 2005 | 01:02
|You RUINED THAT BMW!
and I have been talking about what we'd like to do to the BMW. I want
coilovers and M3 wheels. Karl wants Twenty-twos, projector headlights
and gold flake paint.
We are on the same page: Make it fast AND bad ass looking. We want the car to be the embodiment of the "Absence of Light"...
Black Interior (or what's left of it)
Low-Gloss Black paintjob
Black Vinyl Team Stickers (sponsor stickers in any color you'd like!)
Black helmets & fire suits
also had a loopy idea about cutting the 'kidney' grill center section
out. I did a photoshop to see what it would look like:
What do you think? Kinda frightening!
|Glass from Bartertown
||Todd - Tuesday, March 15, 2005 | 23:20
|Wow, I'm not very good at the Blog thing. It's been over 2.5 weeks since my last post. Oh well.
So the Targa Newfoundland 2004
spot aired on Speed TV last week. Karl and I actually got some serious
screen time in our, ahem, 600hp supercharged Mustang. It was mostly
Karl -- I really think he crashed the car so we'd be on TV. What a ham.
Over the last couple of weeks, we made some strides on the BMW. We got most of the glass for the car;however, this was not without incident. We got the front, rear and side glass from Sambucci Brothers
in Corona Park, Queens. The rear and side glass went in without
problems. The front glass DID NOT fit. The Sambuccis gave us SEDAN
glass -- we found out the hard way that the E36 Coupé and the E36 Sedan
are TWO DIFFERENT CARS.
So we went back to Corona Park and
returned the used windshield; naturally, we asked the Sambuccis if they
knew of another place to get the correct windshield from. "Go across
the street. They'll help you out."
Columbia Auto Glass said they
could get us a brand new windshield for $100. This was only $19 more
than the used piece from the Sambuccis... As Jon Ackerson would say,
While we were waiting for the Columbians to receive the windshield, we took a tour of Corona Park, Queens.
Park is, most notably, the home to the Mets and Shea Stadium. A half
mile directly behind home base, there is a 4 x 4 block radius of
car-related 'businesses'. The ones that are on the outside perimeter of
this 'neighborhood' appear to be very respectable (like the Sambucci
Brothers), the shops/streets in the interior of this 'hood resemble a
set from a Mad Max/The Road Warrior movie: half-stripped,
abandoned late-model autos and piles of junk car parts litter the
streets, the roads themselves put the Range Rover we were driving to
the test, men huddled around trough-shaped steel structures with
god-knows-what burning in them, tons of shady looking used cars, lots
of overspray, etc. A TRULY CRAZY PLACE.
Last weekend, we put
the windshield in and the BMW went into hibernation until we get an
appointment for the NY 907A Salvage inspection...
September, Karl Apfel and I competed in Targa Newfoundland. Someone
once said, "Racing makes heroin addiction feel like a craving for
something salty." Where do I sign up!?
TARGA NEWFOUNDLAND 2004
A friend of ours, James D. Turner of Donation Vehicle Program,
had an extra ticket to Targa 2004 AND an extra car to drive in the
event. When he offered it up to us, we thought about it for about 30
"HELL, YEAH! We'll go!"
The car was a 1990
Mustang GT with a rollcage. That's it. Also, it was pretty neglected;
it had been Mr. Turner's Wally Vusich's (Wally is the son of Mr.
Turner's Co-driver: Karl Vusich) daily driver for 8 of the last 10
years. The other 2 years, it sat in a parking lot rusting away.
We had less than 2 WEEKS to get the car into fighting shape; a test drive revealed that the car needed:
I immediately set about ordering the bare minimum of items that the vehicle would need. Here's my laundry list:
|Item ||Vendor ||Cost ||Shipping|
|Tokico HP Shocks/Stuts|| ebay: JDMWerks13 ||260 ||45|
|Hawk Brake Pads ||maximumautosports.com ||100 ||20|
|Ford Racing Springs ||Summit Racing ||140 ||20|
|SS Brake Lines ||Summit Racing ||72|| 20|
|FR/RR/K Braces|| ebay: tru-speed ||200 ||54|
|Sub-total ||772 ||159|
Luckily, everything arrived before we left; however, the night before our departure, we were still wrenching on the Mustang...
Rustang did not pass the Targa tech inspection -- we had a 4-point
rollcage. The rules clearly state that a 6-point is compulsory.
Luckily, the organizers and Newfoundlanders provided excellent support.
They hooked us up with a local guy, Shady Dave, who was willing to fab
up the remaining points for our cage in 24 hours time (for a reasonable
At the very last minute, we got the car tech'd and were able to race.
first day of racing was totally awesome: 100mph+ on closed public
roads. Full throttle passes through tiny fishing villages. We were
The violent jolting of the washboard Newf roads threw our fuel gauge WAY off. We ran out of gas and missed a stage. Oops.
We were really getting into it -- 125mph on backroads! Incredible. Until we need to make a right turn...
only damage from the trip into the ditch was a small ding in one of the
tires. A trip to the Canadian Tire in Gander revealed that both of our
front rotors were cracked and the exhaust was terminally broken. We
replaced the rotors and wired up the muffler...
The Rustang was back on the road and our spirits were high. The whole
trip (we drove to Newfoundland from upstate NY), the clutch made a
small POP! when it was depressed
to the floor. Curious... In the middle of the 3rd stage of the day,
Karl engaged the clutch and the clutch stopped working! He power
shifted the car through this stage and the next. During lunch we tried
to diagnose the problem. A fellow racer/fox-body Mustang enthusiast,
Huw Evans, thought it might be the clutch adjustment. We monkeyed
around with it for an hour with no success. We resigned for the day and
had the car towed back to Marystown.
did a more thorough inspection back in Marystown: the bellhousing is
filled with a steel wool-like substance! Without a replacement clutch
available, we were forced to resign from the race...
natural choice for a return to Newfoundland would be the Mustang: it's
halfway there. It just needs a bit more oomph: better brakes, better
steering, better suspension, more top end power, etc. The aftermarket
is very comprehensive, it is also very expensive. We start
brainstorming other cars:
Rabbit GTI with a 1.8T engine (Too much work and it's still FWD).E36 BMW (too expensive)S13 240sx w/ SR20DET (my daily driver and I don't want to destroy it)Late-80s Audi V8 (too fine for mere mortals like us!)944 Turbo (too expensive, complex)Sentra Classic SE-R (FWD, not enough wine and cheese)Range Rover HSE (best vehicle for Newf roads alas SUVs aren't permitted)Porsche 914 (yikes)1974 Dodge Dart (needs too much work)1979 320i (yuck!)Datsun
510 or 240z w/ SR20DET (impossible to find rust-free examples w/o
$$$$$)We added a few other cars to the 'maybe' list: 80s Supra, E30,
etc and kept our eyes peeled.
Three weeks ago, a 1992 BMW 325is came up on Salvagedirect.com. It had high mileage and all of its glass had been broken out.
$525 later, and we had our race car! It's somewhat clean (bad interior
and those are 'flame' stickers on the fenders!) and it runs well. We
need to push it through the NYS DMV Salvage process before we start
hooking it up for the race... It'll probably take about 3 months to get
the Dubya legal. But when we do, we'll start the race build-up!
|Posted by Todd on Sunday, February 27, 2005 at 16:55