Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Vintage Trans-Am Racing

If you love the classic muscle cars from the ‘60s and early ‘70s, here’s a fabulous video from the Sportscar Vintage Racing Association (SVRA) of historic cars racing earlier this month at Watkins Glen. You can check out their website at http://www.svra.com/ to see what other races are coming up. I love their slogan: Some People Collect Art. . . We Race It.

Saturday, September 21, 2013

2013 Targa Newfoundland: Days Four and Five

Day Four

The weather continued good for Thursday. There was also little change in the standings, with the same teams in first place for each of Classic, Modern and Open. In the Grand Touring division, McDonald and Fuller slipped into third, to be replaced by MacMullen and Russell. In the Open division, Pledger and Willett also ran into difficulty, so rented a car to compete in the Grand Touring division on Friday, the last day of the rally.

While there were no accidents, there were some mechanical problems. In the Modern division, Deshaies and McKenzie’s Kia’s engine failed, causing them to withdraw.

Day Five

It was still anyone’s race going into the fifth and final leg, so the first stage of the day, in Bay L’Argent, was a game-changer. At nearly 15 kilometres long, there are opportunities for passing, and several teams took advantage. The heat was definitely on by the Harbour Mile stage. Team Bartleet/Picco, in their Porsche 944, missed a sharp turn and damaged their car, leaving them unhurt but unable to continue.

Despite that, Gill and Didcock stayed in the lead and took the Classic division, being nearly 16 minutes ahead of the next team. In the Modern division, Aweida and Aweida managed to hang on to their lead, becoming the first rookie team to win a competitive division at Targa Newfoundland. Davenport and Benson took the Open division, while Riddell and DeLange took the Grand Touring, possibly the most hotly contested class, undecided until the very last stage.

I expect the contestants are already thinking about next year. And I’m thinking it’s really time I learned to drive a standard.

[SOURCE: http://www.targanewfoundland.com/]

Thursday, September 19, 2013

2013 Targa Newfoundland: Day Three

Seems there’s been more than one team that’s had to switch cars and classes in order to continue this year. I already discussed Hiscott and Cline Abrahams, who are now driving a Toyota in the Open class. In addition, father and daughter team Don and Skye Sawyer left the road in their Mini Cooper on leg one. With no rally car to compete with, they grabbed the family Volkswagen and joined the Fast Tour. Brunner and Laitenberg had a problem with their Mustang on leg three. No problem. They found another Mustang and also joined the Fast Tour.

Leg three started in the Bonavista Peninsula, a first for Targa Newfoundland, and took in the communities of Lethbridge, Brooklyn, Trinity, Goose Cove, New Bonaventure, Port Rexton, and Clarenville. Seems a moose delayed start-up at Goose Cove, but that’s Newfoundland for you. After all the dust had settled, here’s where the teams ended up.


Gill and Didcock are still leading, with a three second time penalty. Rogers and Strupp are still in second, but nearly six minutes behind. Wiltshire and Wiltshire’s Porsche 911 is now third, with Brunner and Laitenberg in fourth with a time of 13:19.


Aweida and and Aweida continue to lead, quite an accomplishment for their first Targa Newfoundland. Hume and Bartleet are one minute behind. Mepham and Solecki are another 12 seconds behind them. The Oldfords, who had been hoping for a third trip to the podium after last year’s disappointment, are out with an engine failure. They deserved better luck.


Davenport and Benson still have the lead at 16 seconds penalty, but the next two teams aren’t far behind. Atkinson and Tarrant are sitting at 1:25 and Hiscott and Cline Abrahams are a mere four seconds behind.

Grand Touring

While everyone now has time penalties, the first four teams are within six seconds of each other. That would be MacMullen and Russell with a total score of 2 seconds, Riddell and DeLange with 3 seconds, McDonald and Fuller at 4, and Bartlett and Picco at 8. Still very much anyone’s race.

Just today and tomorrow before this year’s Targa wraps up.

[SOURCE: http://www.targanewfoundland.com/]

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

2013 Targa Newfoundland: Day Two

For leg two (Exploits Valley) of this year’s Targa Newfoundland, there were 29 cars lined up at the start of the first stage. That’s one more than Monday. Looks like the Watermans, in their 2002 Subaru WRX were somehow left off yesterday’s start list, though the Open list does show them.

Some of the stages passed through on Tuesday were Appleton, Point Leamington, Bobby’s Cove, Pleasantview, and Glover’s Harbour. Regrettably, the stages in Gander had to be dropped as it was getting too late in the day to run them safely.


There were no changes in the division standings, with Gill and Didcock still ahead by 10 seconds and Rogers and Strupp in second. The third Ford, that of Brunner and Laitenberg, is still 5:08 out of first, but Wiltshire and Wiltshire have lost time and are now 7:03 behind.


All 11 cars completed leg two, but the teams are now spread out more. In first place, still with no time penalties, are both Aweida and Aweida and Oldford and Oldford. Two seconds behind are Rittenhouse and Semrad, with Hartling and Proudfoot another two seconds behind them.


While all 8 cars from leg one went on to complete leg two, Bergeron and Kirby, who were leading, are having trouble with a blown piston and may not be able to continue. They’re currently sitting in sixth place. Davenport and Benson are currently at the top, with a one second penalty, and Hiscott and Cline 15 seconds behind them with their second car, the Toyota Corolla, having had to dump the Evo for engine problems. In third are Atkinson and Tarrant.

Grand Touring

All seven cars finished leg two, and the same four teams are still sitting in first, with no time penalties.

[SOURCE: http://www.targanewfoundland.com/]

2013 Targa Newfoundland: Day One

The first official day of racing had a lot better weather than the prologue. Twenty-seven teams showed up at the start line for the first stage of leg one. That included all four teams from the Classic division. Missing from the Modern Class were Hiscott and Cline in their 1995 Mitsubish Lancer Evo. The Open Class was missing Scott and Mikey Waterman in their 2002 Subaru WRX, while the Grand Touring Class had lost Hume and Crant in their 2011 BMW 335is. Too bad! Hiscott and Cline seem to have switched cars and classes and are now in the Open division with a Toyota Corolla.

Four teams left the road at some point during the day’s eight stages, with one being taken to hospital for observation as a precaution. At the end of the day, here’s where the four divisions stood. I’m basing this on the results posted on the website, which don’t always agree with the press releases.


It’s the battle of the Fords, with three of the four cars sporting the blue oval. In first place by ten seconds are Gill and Didcock in their Ford RS 1800, followed closely by Rogers and Strupp in their Mustang. Four minutes and 58 seconds behind are Brunner and Laitenberg in their Mustang GT, with Wiltshire and Wiltshire a further 21 seconds behind in their Porsche 911.


Of the 11 cars that started in the morning, all 11 finished. Four teams are tied for first, with another three less than a minute behind them. So we have Hume and Bartleet in their BMW M3, Aweida and Aweida in their Mustang FR500S, Oldford and Oldford in their Subaru WRX STI, and Mepham and Solecki in their Mini Cooper S JCW, all with no time penalties so far. Even the backrunners, Deshaies and McKenzie in their Kia Forte Koup SX, are only 9:23 behind.


All 8 cars that started the day finished. Bergeron and Kirby in their Subaru STI are tied with Davenport and Benson in their Subaru WRX with 0 time points. Five seconds behind are Hiscott and Cline in a Toyota Corolla. Another five seconds behind are Atkinson and Tarrant in their Acura Integra.

Grand Touring

Again, all 7 cars that started finished. There are four teams tied for first, with no time penalties. We have McDonald and Fuller in their Audi A6, Riddell and DeLange in their BMW 135i, MacMullen and Russell in their Mini Countryman JCW, and Trickett and Trickett in their Audi S4.

Next up: Day Two

[SOURCE: http://www.targanewfoundland.com/]

2013 Targa Newfoundland: Prologue

This year’s Targa Newfoundland had its official start on Sunday, followed by the three prologue stages, a chance for cars and drivers to get used to what they’d be driving over for the next week. And even though the day’s results don’t count, no one was taking it easy, as you can see from the attached video.

But let’s backtrack a bit and talk about the cars and teams in each of the classes. First off is the Classic Class for model years 1981 and before. There are only four entries this year, but that doesn’t mean it won’t be competitive. Based strictly on car number, we have:

- Ben Gill and Dave Didcock from the UK in their 1978 Ford RS 1800 Escort. Hmm. I have them noted as driving a 1979 last year, but I’m pretty sure it’s the same car.
- Chip Brunner (Virginia) and Mark Laitenberg (New York), in their 1965 Ford Mustang GT. I remember that car from last year, too.
- Jack Rogers and CJ Strupp from Indiana, in another 1965 Ford Mustang.
- Finally, we have Edison and Margo Wiltshire from Newfoundland, in a 1979 Porsche 911. They were also competitors last year.

There are 12 entries in the Modern Class, and many of them are repeat contenders. Again sorting strictly by car number, we have:

- John Hume, Jr. and Ron Bartleet, both of Ontario, in a 2004 BMW M3
- Dan and Tina Aweida from Colorado in a 2008 Ford Mustang FR500S
- Jacques Deshaies* and Guy McKenzie from Quebec in a 2010 Kia Forte Koup SX
- Michael Hiscott and Max Cline Abrahams from Newfoundland in a 1995 Mitsubish Lancer Evo
- Jim Kenzie+ (Ontario) and Brian Bourbonniere (Nova Scotia) in the second official Kia entry, a 2012 Kia Optima EX Turbo
- Mark Rittenhouse (Ontario) and Robert Semrad (North Carolina) in a2008 Mitsubishi Lancer Evo
- Don and Skye Sawyer from New York in a 2006 Mini Cooper S
- Brad Melendy and Wayne Lorenzen, both from Newfoundland, in a 1986 Chevrolet Camaro
- Matthew and Brian Oldford from Newfoundland in a 2004 Subaru WRX STI
- Doug Mephem and John Solecki, both from Ontario, in a 2006 Mini Cooper S JCW
- Scott Robbins and Stewart Tymchuk, both from Ontario, in a 1988 Ford Sierra Cosworth
- Stan Hartling (Turks and Caicos) and Andy Proudfoot (Newfoundland) in a 2006 Lotus Exige

*You can follow Deshaies on his blog (in French) at www.autonet.ca
+You can follow Kenzie on his blog at www.wheels.ca

Next we have the Open Class, with seven teams, four of which are driving Subarus. Hmm.

- Jean Luc Bergeron and Eric Kirby of Quebec in a 2006 Subaru STI
- Menelaos and Gregory Georgiadis of New York in a 2008 Subaru STI
- Dave Pledger (BC) and Robin Willett (North Virginia) in a 1971 Ford Escort Mark IV
- Mike Davenport and Brad Benson of Ontario in a 2002 Subaru WRX
- John Howard and Matt Kelland of Newfoundland in a 2006 Mitsubishi Lancer Evo
- Richard Atkinson and Kirk Tarrant of Newfoundland in a 1995 Acura Integra
- Scott and Mikey Waterman of Newfoundland in a 2002 Subaru WRX

Finally, there’s the Grand Touring Class.

- Terry DaSilva and Graham Austin of Ontario in a 1980 MGB
- Mark McDonald and Andrew Fuller of Ontario in a 2003 Audi A6
- Jon Riddell and Briar DeLange of Ontario in a 2008 BMW 135i
- Craig MacMullen (Nova Scotia) and Justin Russell (Newfoundland) in a 2013 Mini Countryman JCW
- Gary and Judi Trickett of Florida in a 2004 Audi S4
- John Hume (Ontario) and Justin Crant (Newfoundland) in a 2011 BMW 335is
- Peter Bartlett and Bridget Picco of Newfoundland in a 1989 Porsche 944 Turbo

That makes 30 teams in all. If you’re wondering where all the exotics are, they mostly tend to do the Fast Tour, which isn’t scored.

There were heavy showers and wet driving conditions for the three prologue stages, held in Flatrock, Pouch Cove, and Torbay. Certainly a good test for the cars and drivers. And the weather didn’t stop the spectators from coming out. There were a few glitches. One car had an engine failure, while another had some minor damage to its front end due to a mechanical issue taking it off course. A third car also went off course with minor vehicle damage. No participants or spectators were injured. With the possible exception of Hume and Crant’s BMW in the Grand Touring Class, all were expected to be able to continue, though Hiscott and Cline of the Modern Class didn’t complete all of the prologue stages.

Next up, Day One

[SOURCE: http://www.targanewfoundland.com/]

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Two Time Targa Newfoundland Winners Looking for Three

2004 Subaru WRX at 2012 Targa Newfoundland
Photo by Kate Tompkins
Last year’s Targa Newfoundland could have been the third win in a row in the modern division for father and son team Brian and Matthew Oldford from St. John’s. Unfortunately, a crash on day one took their Subaru out of the running. This year they’re going to take on North America’s coolest rally, over 2,200 of Newfoundland’s scenic and twisty roads, once more. For Oldford Senior, it will be his 11th Targa (he first started in 2003). Obviously he’s got the bug bad.

So what exactly went wrong last year? In Brian’s own words, “Whatever happened, happened really fast.” They were on the last stage of the day, in Gooseberry Cove, a stage they’re quite familiar with from past Targas. Somehow, they missed a corner. “Where we went off, in previous years we had been able to read the tree line to get a sense of where the road goes,” Brian continues, “but a local had cut down some of the trees, so the road looked straight and we went over the crest flat-out.”

“I actually never saw the corner,” Brian adds. “I was busy counting us down to the next corner. Then all I saw was alders flying by the window.”

“I don’t think I want to try that again,” he says wryly.

While the car was badly damaged, neither of the Oldfords were hurt, and they’re ready to give it another shot this year. The 2004 Subaru WRX is rebuilt and ready to go. “The car should be competitive,” Brian says.

I’m wishing them better luck this year—they should be a team worth watching.

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

12th Annual Targa Newfoundland Starts This Saturday

2012 Targa Newfoundland Start
Photo by Kate Tompkins
Last year’s Targa Newfoundland ran from September 8 through 14 and right in the middle of that, tropical storm Leslie hit Newfoundland. Fortunately, it only caused one day of bad weather, and the race went on. This year’s begins this Saturday, and once again, a tropical storm, named Gabrielle, is headed that way. Here’s hoping she has as little impact as Leslie did.

I won’t be in St. John’s this year to watch the start and finish, but I’ll certainly be following along online. You can get details on the various stages of the 2,200 km run on the official website. While things can change right up to the last minute, the official start is slated for 12:20 pm Sunday outside the Keg in St. John’s. I can tell you from watching it last year that it’s a lot of fun and a good chance to see the cars and drivers before they get banged up. Leg one starts in Torbay first thing Monday, and, if all goes well, the final leg is in Carbonear on Friday, followed by the ceremonial finish back at the St. John’s Keg. Each night there will be a car show in whichever community the day’s racing ended, to raise funds for the Autism Society of Newfoundland and Labrador.

They’re expecting teams from all over to compete in the three classes: Targa (Classic, Modern and Open), Grand Touring, and Fast Tour, including a team from the UK, a driver from the Turks and Caicos, another from Bermuda, and of course teams from Canada and the US. Many are repeat competitors.

Here’s the Vivid Racing team’s video take on their experience last year. Doesn’t that make you want to go?

Friday, September 6, 2013

Bentley SUV Is a Go

Courtesy Bentley Motors
Back in March 2012, Bentley introduced the EXP 9 concept at the Geneva Motor Show. Not everyone was happy about that, with the bulk of the complaints being made about the way it looked. Enough people must have responded positively, however, as Bentley has now announced a fourth model line to accommodate an SUV. Like the other Bentleys, it will be built in Crewe.

It’s not expected to go on sale until 2016, but Bentley will be putting lots of money into it and other new models before that. They’ll be spending somewhere in the neighbourhood of £800 million on facilities and development in the next three years. Good news for Crewe.

While there are lots of quotes from politicians and company executives, nobody seems to be providing any details. The line drawing illustrating the press release (see above) certainly doesn’t give anything away. Bentley’s Chairman and Chief Executive, Dr Wolfgang Schreiber, says: “The SUV will be a thoroughbred Bentley true to the brand hallmarks of luxury, performance, quality and craftsmanship. The styling will set it apart from any other SUV on the road and will be true to the Bentley design DNA. It will be the most luxurious and most powerful SUV in the market.”

In other words, it will be a Bentley. Guess we’ll just have to wait and see.

[SOURCE: http://www.bentleymedia.com/release-481.htm]

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Shelby GT500 Stars in Getaway

Ethan Hawke, Selena Gomez and the Ford Shelby
GT500 Super Snake star in the upcoming action
thriller Getaway hitting the big screens Labor Day Weekend. (Photo: Business Wire)
If you caught action thriller Getaway on the big screen this weekend, you know that the movie didn’t just star Ethan Hawke, Selena Gomez and Jon Voight. Also on screen was a 2014 Ford Shelby GT500 Super Snake. Nothing like a little muscle to liven things up. According to director and producer Courtney Solomon, “I felt strongly that we needed the quintessential American muscle car with enough star power to shine with Ethan and Selena. With 725 horsepower, amazing capabilities and great looks, the Ford Shelby GT500 Super Snake was ideal for this ‘role.’ … We look forward to taking audiences on the ride of their lives in the Shelby Super Snake.”

Have you seen the movie yet? Does the car steal the show?

If you live in the States, you might be interested in the contest at http://fandangogetawaysweeps.com/s/, where you can enter to win your very own 2014 Ford Shelby GT500 Super Snake. The rest of us will just have to keep saving up, but in the meantime, you can at least build one online at Shelby American.

[SOURCE: Business Wire]

Monday, September 2, 2013

Wrap Your Ford Fiesta in Bacon

Bacon-wrapped Ford Fiesta. (PRNewsFoto/Ford Motor Company)
Nope, not the latest anti-rust trick, but a new way to customize your ride. It seems that last Saturday (August 31) was International Bacon Day. To celebrate, Ford showed off one of their 2014 Fiestas sporting custom exterior vinyl wraps from Ford Custom Graphics. The Fiesta in the photo is covered in 10 strips of bacon, but there are other items on the menu. You can take away Bacon Racing Strips for your hood, or display a Side of Bacon over the rear wheel.

Don’t drive a Fiesta? They do have graphics for other Ford vehicles. There are also other designs, though they seem lacking in sizzle beside the bacon wraps. But if consumers show a taste for bacon, could cheeseburger or donut wraps be far away?

[SOURCE Ford Motor Company]