Targa Miata
September 13, 2011 - Gander.
One of the highlights of the event. Why? Because it's every commuter's fantasy. An entire subdivision is shut down and we get to go mental, constantly turning left and right at every intersection. There's no way I could retrace our steps, and I swear we should have crossed over our tracks several times. Just five minutes of sheer madness and a very big workout for the driver, the navigator and the brakes.
The first time through, I took full advantage of my ability to throttle steer. The balance of the car was perfect, even to the point of letting me get loose under braking and come into a corner already a bit sideways with lots of powerslides coming out. It was so busy I was having trouble processing Janel's calls, as she sometimes would call one when I was just approaching the previous. They were very tight. We took something like 14 seconds of penalties, which is very good for Gander.
The second time through, I realized that if that had been an autocross, it would have been a spectacular but slow run. So I decided to drive it properly. Janel also changed her pacing and only fed me the next corner when I was through the previous one. The result was a time that was 8 seconds faster - although our base time was also faster. So we took 17 seconds of penalties. Again, very good for Gander.
entry 969 - tags: 2011 race, day 2, Gander
September 30, 2011 - Romping through Gander.
This is the first time through, when I was basically acting like a hooligan. A hooligan with a big grin.
This is the first of a number of photos from Gordon Sleigh, the official event photographer. So we're going to take a few steps back through the race here. Note the red tape. You'll see both red and yellow tape in the background of a number of the pictures. Red tape denotes a potential impact area, and spectators are kept free of the red tape zones.
entry 997 - tags: 2011 race, day 2, Gander
September 30, 2011 - Exploring the limits of suspension travel in Gander.
The notes for this stage warn about bumps on the inside of corners where the drains are. And they're right! There's a much better looking version of this shot, taken just before I hit the bump, but this one's just so dramatic. I'm happy to report that the car was not upset in the least by this behavior, and the next shot in the sequence shows it carrying on happily. And people wonder why I spend so much time working on suspension travel. I was able to do things like this without any concern about upsetting the car.
According to Zach, there are something like 29 turns in this stage - and I suspect that he left out the dozen or so that weren't marked, but that were parts of a suburban crescent. Even without those, that means an average of one 90 turn every 10 seconds for 5 minutes. No wonder it's so exhausting.

entry 998 - tags: 2011 race, day 2, Gander, suspension
December 10, 2013 - Farewell, Gander.
The Targa Newfoundland organizers have announced the biggest change to the route in the event's history. The rally will no longer head for the Gander region. This means the loss of many of my favorite stages: Leading Tickles, Port Blandford, Bobby's Cove, Pleasantview - and of course, Gander.

Leading Tickles (which is known by different names depending on how long the stage is in a given year, and which direction you're going) is a rockship blast through the woods on a curvy road with patches on patches. You have to be on top of your game, and if you're in a well set up car with good suspension it's magic. It also has consequences, this is the stage that took out the factory MINI in 2008 in a high speed crash that left car parts all over the woods. Oh, it also has the best stage name in the event.
Bobby's Cove wasn't super-challenging, it was just smooth and very fast. That's the stage where I passed a 30 km/h speed limit sign doing 179 km/h, always a favorite moment.
Gander, of course, is one of the famous stages. It's 5 minutes of mayhem, a flurry of identical left-right-left corners as you rampage through a fairly nondescript subdivision. It was ferociously difficult to finish without penalties, and always a highlight of the race for fans and competitors. Even just standing by the road and hearing the half-dozen cars currently on course roaring away out of sight behind the houses was entertainment.

As a result of these changes, the event is now more compact, with slightly shorter transit times. That's nice, but it will be a shame to lose what was arguably my favorite day of the race. The time schedule has also been tightened up, with registration and odometer check on the same day as the prologue and the awards gala on Friday night after the last day of racing. The first change means less time to deal with potential scrutineering problems and less time for the navigators to work on their books, the latter means Friday will be a very, very long day.

Take a few minutes to honor a couple of the greats.
Leading Tickles 2011

Gander 2008

The photo is from Gander in 2011, taken by Zach Bowman.
entry 1117 - tags: news, route, gander, pleasantview, bobbys cove, leading tickles