Targa Newfoundland - the
best rally in the world
The Targa Newfoundland rally
was an event I wanted to run since its
inception. I mean, where else can you take your
car on city and country roads and drive the way
it was meant to be driven! I had visions of my
own automobile commercial - you know the kind
you watch on TV. Not so much caring about the
car but the beauty of the roads the
"professional driver - do not attempt" was
It was certainly a joy to get the
e-mail and telephone calls from Speed Channel about
their entry and I was to be one of the drivers. Drive
is what I love to do and while I have watched World
Rally, always thought rally racer Michelle Mouton was a
hero, I never really thought of how complicated
completing a rally would be.
"A navigator can't win you the
rally but they sure can lose it for you"; Wise words
from my navigator Tim Winker, a veteran of the sport.
He would become the only man I've ever listened to- my
life depended on it. Cresting the hill at speed I was
glad to hear his words of direction. He was a calming
effect for the nerves I felt to achieve the best
results. He was supportive and enthusiastic to taking
that car just that one step further. His professionalism
was awe inspiring as I watched him spend hours on
calculations. A route book is useless unless you have a
navigator that knows.
After learning we'd be in a 2004 Hyundai Canada Tiburon
I admit I was a bit disappointed. Where was my Lancia
Delta Integrale, famed rally car from days gone by? But
I was assured by Hyundai race car driver Jeff Lorriman
that the car is superb on the track. But a road and a
track can differ. In Newfoundland the roads posed more
of a threat. Pot holes and gravel challenged the
way and left us with wide grins after safe passage
The Tiburon Tuscani, with its six
speed manual transmission had perfect gearing.
Acceleration was smooth and quick during short town
stages with many twists and turns. Horsepower was 172 at
6000 rpm - sure, 488 less than a Ferrari Enzo but don't
roll your eyes. This car handled and performed
beautifully. Add that to the price and incredible
warranty and you have yourself one of the best vehicles
to grace your driveway.
roadways tested the car and the Hyundai Tiburon and it
passed with flying colours.
Driving into that school the first day after a morning
of fast driving and my heart just skipped. Row upon row
of young children waving, cheering presenting their
beautiful race inspired artwork, I was in awe. A more
warming welcome could not be found. But that was a part
of the Targa - the open hearts and homes. Each stop
would result in being greeted by a smile. Any turmoil
or trouble and not only were fellow competitors the
first to jump in to help but residents and new found
friends would tireless be there to aid in any way
possible. Oh how those other racing series could learn
By luck I was next to the 1999
Mustang of Robert Pacione and his remarkable team.
Bonds formed early as they continued to bribe me with
strong morning espressos with a smile as a chaser. How
they put up with my constant banter was a miracle.
While they were out for the Targa crown and I was in
Touring unequipped it didn't mean we weren't competitive
and I soon learned of the strength and loyalty of fine
team work. Just a bit of bad luck and their car was
damaged badly but that didn't stop the "boys". Pacione
was short for passion which the team showed in getting
that car back on track, drivable and ready to compete
the next day. The spirit of Targa award was well
deserved by the whole gang there.
It's certainly humbling when a young girl asks you for
your autograph. I've never felt I was more than a car
girl and certainly not up to the standards of the 200
racerchicks on the site. But as one of only two female
drivers in the Targa ( so I was told) it set my standard
high. I was to make sure I would try my
and more - dedicate anything accomplishment to those
that believed - especially the young fan I may not be a
movie star but I felt like a million dollars at ever
port of call when a young girl say "cool, a girl
The people behind the scenes were
even better. I mean many were called "CRO's - but
competitor Relations Officers were in charge of the
search for the holy grail..and with them they would find
it! Any issue, problem complaint or kudos and they were
<drool> Where else can you let your car experience its
potential. Safety was top priority with a large pool of
incredible volunteers that would make sure you enjoyed
the machine you were to push. The learning curve was
helpful -as the first day wet your whistle and the last
day humbled you. It was a drivers rally - a road
presented to you like a magic carpet and I was certainly
ready for that ride.
So my fellow racerchicks - I have
rambled enough about all this. In a nutshell it was a
fantastic event - tailored to you, your driving ability
and your love of the open road. Think of this as an
open invitation to all of you - let's show them
racerchicks perseverance and drive
Tim Winker - the greatest
navigator in the world - enough said!
Pacione Racing - Thanks for
being big brothers to me and my race car - the morning
espressos were my octane boost you guys are the best
Melissa Hurley- Miss
Newfoundland. You truly shine, my pilot friend
Carol Anne Ford - Winner of the
Racerchicks.com award and $500 - you worked tirelessly
to help everyone - your smile was contagious
Hyundai Canada - That car was a
rocket - indestructible! Thank you! What a great car
for a great price!
Speed Channel, Persona and
Rogers High Speed Internet - thank you for the
opportunity to represent you as your driver. All of you
worked so hard to make it happen. Carl, Hawley - you
representative, workers and volunteers: Thank you Frank
for nagging me to come out, and then to all of you for
putting up with me while there.
Newfoundland residents: Thank
you for the hospitality. The beauty of the province is
only surpassed by the big hearts of the people.
Thank you to the many
drivers/cars that generously placed a racerchicks.com
sticker on your car - your support of our site was so
kind. Ross, Eli - wait until next year!
Courtesy of the Toronto Star:
Chicks Rule, Go Nika Go'`Chicks Rule,
Go Nika Go'
ST. JOHN'S, Nfld.-"Girl power"
is my mantra, as I explained to little Ashley.
She had come out with her family to
Confederation Park on demonstration day for the Targa
Newfoundland to get up close to the cars and was
thrilled to see a female driver.
I was apprehensive that day,
knowing all too well that it would be a grueling week of
fast driving and little sleep. I would be in a car I'd
never driven before, next to a stranger that I would
have to listen to and trust completely if I was to stay
out of the Atlantic Ocean.
After listening to Jim Kenzie flap
about the Targa for the past two years, I admit I really
wanted to try my hand, or rather my heavy right foot, at
It turns out I was one of only a
handful of female competitors and, in Ashley's eyes,
even a superstar. With only a couple drivers, a few
navigators and a mechanic of my gender, it was good to
see the young female fans so keen about the rally.
As a driver, I had it easy.
Alisha Grant, navigating for her
father in a 1970 Volvo, "had butterflies" after the
first day. "Once it was over, I got a chance to breathe.
It was really fun."
Tanya Clyde, a crew mechanic for an
airline, was wrenching for the Pacione Motorsport 1999
Mustang. She knew it wasn't going to be an easy week
after driver Robert Pacione did some stunt driving and
found himself, his navigator and his car in a ditch.
But, in true spirit of the Targa, after some very late
nights, the battered and bruised car made it to the last
This is a cruel event. While
camping for me was always a weekend at a resort, I
wondered how I would survive. If this was a reality TV
show, I would have asked to be voted off the island if
it wasn't for one thing: the driving. It was
Each stage posed a new challenge -
from small town streets to long stretches of beautiful
road. Bumps and gravel along the way gave an adrenaline
rush like no other.
This clearly made up for the lack
of a Starbucks, a Four Seasons hotel and restrooms along
the way. I was assured that no poison ivy grew in
Newfoundland and I would be safe.
The Targa would be a life-altering
event, head honcho Robert Giannou told me, but I was
quick to dismiss it. That is until the first morning of
competition came to an end and we met at a local school.
No one can describe the feelings that go through your
mind as you are greeted with such enthusiastic cheering
from a group of young children, many waving their
Targa-inspired artwork at the line of cars.
But I was blessed with a familiar
face, Ashley. Her artwork was more inspiring as she had
spent the night before painting her shirt with the
words: "Chicks Rule, Go Nika Go".
One last hug from my posse and we
were off. I could hear her and her friends chanting my
name. While the Toronto International Film Festival has
its glamour, celebrities and paparazzi, I have my own
little fan club in St. John's that I won't ever forget.
I hope they, too, will remember the one thing I told
them, "Girls can race cars, too!"