Truck? Did you say TARGA TRUCK!

by Frank Ewald

Mark Bovey is in love with his wife, Liz. His son, Wyatt, is the focal point of his life. His truck – that is not a typo, I really meant to type his truck – has been with him for what seems like forever. And it is likely not going anywhere fast. It does, however, take him everywhere fast. 2014 was an amazing year for Mark and his truck. You may have heard about it. The truck that ran in Targa Newfoundland. That is correct, the 45 year old truck that completed the 2200 kilometre/1400 mile road rally that is held over nine days (five of the days are competition events) in September of every year. This Targa is held on the East Coast of Canada, with many stages of the course looking over the Atlantic Ocean. It attracts cars and drivers from all over the world. In 2014 it also attracted a truck. The truck you got a glimpse of in my article on Ontario Time Attack and now we are going to look at it a little bit more in-depth. A couple of years ago I heard about this guy autocrossing an insane, classic pickup truck. I met him at the OTA performance driving school that was hosted by SPDA – a club that we both belong to. Mark and I both believe in the philosophy of these two organizations, which is to get drivers involved in organized, grassroots autosport.


Eventual Targa Newfoundland Classic division winner #369 – driver Jack Rogers and navigator CJ Strupp – in the foreground while others are staging. On the right is Scott Robbins' Ford Sierra Sapphire Cosworth – the number 886 right hand drive car finished third in the top tier open division. Scott is a great guy, this was his second time at Targa Newfoundland, and plans are already being made for 2015's running. Scott's navigator is Nicholas Kruczkowski. Just in front of him, bearing the number 6 plate, is the Targa Truck. Mark Bovey driving and navigation done by Miles Markovic.

For about a year now this 1971 GMC 1500 Long Box has been known as the Targa Truck. Mark Bovey and navigator Miles Markovic participated in the Classic category and finished in second place, only 13 minutes behind a 1965 Ford Mustang driven by Jack Rogers with navigator CJ Strupp and ahead of a Porsche 911 and a Chevrolet Corvette. Needless to say this second place finish was a surprise to many, who simply did not think that a farm truck, regardless of how exotic it may be, had any place in one of the world’s most challenging Targa competitions.


Mark hasn't changed much since this photo from around 1992 was captured, but the truck sure has.

Mark’s dad Martin bought this eighteen year old, beat up farm truck for his fourteen year old son in 1989. According to Martin, it was a definite fixer upper at that time but he thought it would be a great project for the two of them and, as Mark was not yet old enough to drive, a great way to learn respect for the automobile he would eventually take on the road. Martin’s first sign, at least in respect to the future Targa Truck, that Mark was somewhat obsessed with building the best he could occurred shortly after the purchase. Martin arrived home from work one evening to find the GMC pick up torn apart with truck pieces literally everywhere. The build had begun!


The pieces have been apart and back together more than once. Each time with a different end goal as the objective – the last build was obviously successful. It is a combination of old and new that defies logic. It really shouldn't work this well but, obviously, it does. There's no question about utilizing the emergency brake – No is pretty clear. You may not be able to read them, but just to the right of the dash are switches/buttons labelled “Cool It”, “Blower” (for the rear brake cooling system), and “Thunder”. I asked Mark what the Thunder button was, wondering if it was an exhaust cut-out or …? Thunder is the push button starter!
The Targa participants drove their vehicles from one event stage to the next. Targa Truck quickly became a favourite of the locals and they had supporters wherever they went. If they stopped, they quickly gathered a crowd. Targa Truck was an underdog but also something everyone could relate to. After all, everyone knows someone with a pick up truck.
Before the steering was updated, you really had to spin the wheel to turn! Mark left drag, moved into autocross, and then Targa. Throughout, his focus is to keep racing off of the street. Find an organization local to you that will support your interest in Motorsports in a controlled environment. Here in southern Ontario, Canada, SPDA and OTA are two of those groups.

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